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City Gets Model of Vietnam War Tribute

November 06, 1998|HARRISON SHEPPARD

Backers of a planned memorial portraying cooperation between American and Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam War now have something to show potential donors for the project: a 3-foot clay model.

The City Council commissioned Garden Grove artist Tuan Nguyen in August to design the 14-foot bronze memorial, which will be in Little Saigon.

The clay model Nguyen recently finished portrays American and South Vietnamese soldiers standing side by side. Nguyen, who came to the United States from Vietnam in 1989, said he was trying to portray the spirit of cooperation between the two countries, rather than the brutality of war.

"I think about the collaboration between the two soldiers, the friendship between two countries," Nguyen said. "It's not against each other, so I put them shoulder to shoulder looking in the same direction."

Mayor Frank Fry Jr. said he wants the memorial built for three reasons.

"I felt that it would heal the Vietnamese people themselves," Fry said. "It would help heal the American people, and the third reason is it would help Little Saigon."

The city is in the middle of efforts to revamp Little Saigon into a regional tourist attraction.

About $150,000 is needed to build the statue, and funds will come from private fund-raising that will begin now that the model is complete.

Retired generals James J. McMonagle of the U.S. Marines and Lam Quang Thi of the former South Vietnamese army helped choose the sculptor and worked with him to assure authenticity of the uniforms and gear.

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