From 1955-1975, more than three million Americans fought in the Vietnam War, This event took place in North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Nearly 60,000 American soldiers were killed, close to 150,000 were wounded, and almost 10,000 Americans went missing. This awful time in American history tends to be associated with the draft, but records show that around two thirds of those who served did so voluntarily. This costly war ended with the withdrawal of United States forces in 1973 and the unification of Vietnam under communist control two years later. The entire event tends to remain a controversial topic among many American citizens even five decades later. In 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built in Washington D.C. honoring almost 58,000 names.
Through the years, many more have been added. Two Grand Bay locals unfortunately hold a place there in Washington D.C. on that sacred memorial. Private First Class David Nelson Lafferty was born on October 4, 1947 and resided here in Grand Bay until his enlistment with the United States Marine Corps as a young man. On December 27,1967, when PFC Lafferty was only twenty years old, his life was taken in Thua Thien. Private First Class Wilbert Eugene Waxton was born on May 8, 1944 and also resided in Grand Bay until his enlistment with the United States Army. His life ended on April 22 of 1966 at the age of only twenty two.
On January 30, 2014 Representative David Sessions introduced an amendment to the Alabama House of Representatives asking that a memorial be placed in their hometown of Grand Bay to honor the courage and bravery of these two men. The amendment held that portions of U.S. Highway 90 would be named after these two local heros. The portion of U.S. Highway 90 between the Mississippi state line and mile marker three will be designated the Marine Corps PFC David N. Lafferty Memorial Highway and the portion from mile marker three to mile marker six will be named the Army PFC Wilbert E. Waxton Memorial Highway. The amendment states that the Alabama House of Representatives finds it fitting and proper to recognize and honor these two young men in a tangible and permanent manner because of their brave service and sacrifice which allow Americans to continue even now to enjoy the blessings of freedom. On the 3rd of April, 2014 this amendment was adopted, stamped with the Alabama Great Seal, and signed by Governor Robert Bentley and Secretary of State John Merrill.
The memorials have not been placed yet as of now. The community of Grand Bay will need to raise $3,000 total in order to place both memorials. Once that had been accomplished, the state of Alabama will continue upkeep with no further charge. The friends and relatives of these two heroes would appreciate your help in making this memorial come to life. Donations are accepted and appreciated at Grand Bay Fast Lube on the corner of Highway 90 and Potter Tract Road. For further information on how you can help in this project, you may call or visit Buddy Patteson at Grand Bay Fast Lube. On behalf of The Connection Paper, we thank those who have served and are currently serving our country and we look forward to seeing this memorial come to light.