By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Veterans will soon be blazing a trail to check out a new detailed wall map hanging in the Victory Center Military Store in the Indian River Mall.
Earlier this week, John F. Shupe, Vero Beach resident and retired chief cartographer of the National Geographic Society, and Barry Shapiro, owner of Lighthouse Art and Framing in downtown Vero Beach, presented local Vietnam veterans with a framed 1967 map of Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Not only is the Victory Center a store selling patriotic products and a gathering place for veterans, it is also the headquarters for the local Vietnam veterans group, Chapter 1038 of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
The map will hang on the wall and be available for public viewing and is certain to be a big conversation piece, said Marty Zickert, chapter president and president of the Veteran's Council of Indian River County.
The map includes Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia as they were in the late 1960s when the veterans were fighting and traveling in the area, Mr. Shupe said.
"In 1967, I was in high school and I could not go in the military, but I had a few friends in Vietnam, and a few of them didn't come back," he said. "The Vietnam veteran is sort of a forgotten entity. This is just a way to give back to those veterans."
The 31-inch by 39-inch map is preserved in glass and an archival frame.
"When I heard what they wanted to do, I said let's do it," Mr. Zickert, a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel said. "The guys will be able to go up and put their finger on where they flew, dropped bombs, where they traveled. It's pretty impressive."
He said he hoped having the map in the Victory Center will draw even more veterans to come and share their war stories and remember fighting for their country.
The Victory Center is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Sundays.
For more information about the Victory Center, visit www.vcms-fl.com or call (772) 226-5316.