Centerpiece statue of Vietnamese American memorial arrives in Wichita

The statue that will become the centerpiece of the Vietnamese American Community Memorial has arrived in Wichita and will be installed on the banks of the Arkansas River later this month.

Those who have been planning the project say they hope to have a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony for the memorial in late June or early July.

Kenney Nguyen, one of the organizers, said workers plan to attach the statue to its base near Veterans Memorial Park this month. He said the statue will remain covered until the dedication is held.

Babs Mellor, the lead sculptor on the project, said the statue depicts side-by-side American and Vietnamese soldiers. She said it was delivered to Wichita from a foundry in Loveland, Colo., early this week.

When completed, Mellor said, the memorial will display flags from the United States, South Vietnam and Kansas. A fourth flag honoring the nation’s prisoners of war and missing in action also will be flown.

Mellor said the memorial will include a plaque – with one side written in English and the other in Vietnamese – that notes the sacrifices of Americans and South Vietnamese who fought the communist North Vietnamese.