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Canfield native on a giving back mission
August 7, 2019

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Allen McCabe, a native of Canfield, Ohio, has been elected to the Board of Directors for the national nonprofit organization Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF). VVMF is the nonprofit that built The Wall in 1982 and still maintains it today.

McCabe is the son of John and Savilla McCabe. He attended Canfield High School and was a senior in 1972, a time where young men were put into a lottery for the draft.

"I was in the lottery for Vietnam in the Spring of 1972," McCabe said. "The year you turned 19 you were eligible for the draft. I was senior at Canfield High School at the time, class of '72, but you still had to go through the lottery the year you turned 19...and I turned 19 in November of that year. I had a very high draft number but it would not have mattered. 1972 was the first year that no draftees were taken for Vietnam. Nixon had been pulling the ground troops out. In fact, the last ground troops came home in the summer of 1972. So in one way at least, Nixon was okay in my book."

After graduation McCabe eventually moved to the D.C. area where he lives today. He serves as Vice President for Hughes Network Systems in Germantown, Maryland, but in his spare time loves working in the National Parks.

"I got involved in working at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial not long after 9-11," he said. "A friend knew how much I loved history and suggested that I might consider being a Volunteer for the National Park Service on the National Mall in Washington D.C. as a way of giving something back to the country."

He got involved, filled out the paperwork, and began volunteering on weekends. He worked at the World War II monument, Washington Monument, and a few others, but found himself drawn back to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

"It was 'my time,'" McCabe said. "I grew up through the Vietnam War, it was on the news every night with Walter Cronkite or Huntley/Brinkley."

As for the VVMF, McCabe said it was the one that built The Wall in 1982. The organization was founded by Vietnam veteran Jan Scruggs who had the goal of putting the wall on the national mall. The Wall did get built all off donations with no tax money used.

With McCabe and a couple other individuals added to the board this year, the current board sits at 13 members. New board members have strong ties to the organization's mission at The Wall, whether it is a family connection or through thousands of hours of volunteer service like McCabe, who logged over 10,000 hours to date. Each member is vetted and elected by the voting board members. It takes a commitment to volunteer one's time and effort to continuing our mission to maintain The Wall, to do outreach in communities around the country and to educate all generations about the service and sacrifice of our Vietnam veterans.

McCabe said one of the board's biggest outreach programs is the Traveling Wall, two-thirds size, portable version of the real thing. The Traveling Wall can be taken anywhere is the U.S. to showcase the full size one.

McCabe said an attempt was made to build a museum near the site to collect all the artifacts left there. Unfortunately, that never happened due to lack of funding, but a lot of items left at the wall are warehoused by the National Park Service in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

The main goal of the VVMF is to raise funds for outreach and to maintain The Wall in Washington D.C. While most board members are not required to put in time at The Wall, McCabe said he has other plans.

"As a Board Member I hope to provide input based on my experiences and interaction with not only the Visitors but also the other Volunteers and Park Service Rangers," he said. "Most of the Board Members do not work as Volunteers at The Memorial. They bring their unique experiences and knowledge from service in Vietnam to the corporate world. I hope to bring my experiences with the visitors, volunteers and Rangers to help the Board understand how the actions of VVMF may be viewed by the public."

"We're pleased to add these new Board members," said Board Chairman John Dibble about McCabe and the other new board members for 2019. "They each have strong connections to the Vietnam era and the ongoing mission of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. The Vietnam War still impacts our country in many ways, affecting families and friends. As volunteer Board members, they are committing their time and talents to ensuring current and future generations remember the sacrifices of Vietnam veterans and learn the lessons of that divisive time in our nation's history."

McCabe said he is honored to serve in the capacity he is now in. He said the Vietnam War was during his era and he has discovered one Canfield veteran whose name is on that wall.

"The small town of Canfield has only one person on The Wall, John Kos, who was killed Feb. 9, 1970," McCabe said. "He was born in 1949 so I guess he must have been class of 1967 or 1968. So he would have been out of school before I entered high school. John is listed on The Wall on Panel 14W, Line 118. It's just the way war works. I have met people from tiny communities of a couple thousand who may have had five or six residents killed in Vietnam. I'm sorry I never met John, but he's a hero to me along with the 58,275 others on The Wall."

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