The Wall That Heals arrives in Tama County

Local servicemen Kopriva, Payne, Slater, and Stein part of the Memorial

The Wall That Heals accompanied by more than 100 escort vehicles enters the town of Montour this past Tuesday by way of the Lincoln Highway on its way to Meskwaki Settlement School. –Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker
The side panel of the 53-foot trailer that transports The Wall That Heals – a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – pictured on Tuesday, August 2, as it passes through Montour on its way to Meskwaki Settlement School. –Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker
A young boy carrying a small American flag pauses with his bike on August 2 near the Lincoln Highway in Montour ahead of The Wall That Heals arriving to town on its escort route through Tama County. –Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker
Escort vehicles numbering more than 100 follow close behind the 53-foot trailer carrying The Wall That Heals in the town of Montour on Tuesday, August 2. –Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker
Montour residents including members of the Montour Fire Department wave as The Wall That Heals accompanied by more than 100 escort vehicles makes its way through town along the Lincoln Highway on Tuesday, August 2. –Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker
Kopriva: John Gaylord Kopriva. –Photo courtesy of The Wall of Faces

A little after 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 2, The Wall That Heals – accompanied by more than 100 escort vehicles – made its way across the Tama County line just outside Le Grand, passing through Montour on its way to Meskwaki Settlement School in Tama.

As the mobile exhibit moved through the rolling topography of the Tama County countryside on a 53-foot trailer, passing poppling soybean fields and rural acreages, residents of the local communities on the route, including in Montour, gathered along Lincoln Highway to wave and pay witness.

The Wall and the Mobile Education Center will be open 24/7 for viewing on the grounds of the Meskwaki Settlement School’s baseball facility from Thursday, August 4 through Sunday, August 7 – closing at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. The school is located at 1610 305th Street, Tama. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

In addition to honoring the more than three million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed forces during the Vietnam War, The Wall bears the names of 58,281 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war including the first Traer serviceman killed in Vietnam, North Tama Class of 1966 graduate John Gaylord Kopriva. Kopriva’s name is honored on Panel 22W, Line 112 of The Wall.

Also included on The Wall with ties to the North Tama Telegraph area are Robert P. Payne, buried in Buckingham Cemetery (honored on Panel/Line 45E/24); John E. Slater, a 1964 graduate of Dysart High School whose family lived in rural Marshalltown at the time of his death (honored on Panel/Line 36W/27); and Ronald M. Stein, buried in Dysart Cemetery (honored on Panel/Line 19E/75).

All four men’s biographies can be found on the virtual The Wall of Faces.

Kopriva’s virtual entry can be viewed here.

Payne’s virtual entry can be viewed here.

Slater’s virtual entry can be viewed here.

Stein’s virtual entry can be viewed here.

Several ceremonies and events have been scheduled to coincide with The Wall’s visit to Tama County including the following: History of Meskwaki Service Members on Friday, August 5, at 8:00 p.m.; Post Colors by Tama American Legion on Saturday, August 6, at 8:00 a.m.; Post Colors by Belle Plaine American Legion on Sunday, August 7, at 8:00 am. The Closing Ceremony is set for Sunday, August 7, at 1:30 p.m.

John G. Kopriva

John Kopriva from Traer is the only service member whose “home of record” is either Traer, Dysart, or Clutier. His obituary is printed below, courtesy of Kennan Seda.

“Services for John Gaylord Kopriva, first Traer serviceman to be killed in Vietnam, were held Thursday at 11 a.m. in St. Paul Catholic church with the Rev. Fr. Richard A. Bohr officiating. Burial was in St. Paul Catholic cemetery. Rosary was recited Wednesday night at Overton Funeral home.”

“Sp/4 Kopriva, 20, died Sunday, June 22, from wounds he received the day before while under fire from supporting aircraft directed at a hostile force somewhere in Vietnam. The son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph J. Kopriva Sr., he was the seventh Tama county youth to be killed in combat in Vietnam.”

“Military rites were conducted by servicemen from Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Honorary casket bearers were Stanley Hanus, Jerry Hulme, Mark Kucera, Charles Buresh, Tom Stull and Rodger Hadley.”

“Born Nov. 27, 1948, he grew to manhood in the Traer community and was a 1966 graduate of North Tama high school. As a junior at North Tama, he placed third in the 95-pound class of the state wrestling tournament. Prior to entering the Army, Sp/4 Kopriva attended the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls for 1½ years.”

Purple Heart

“He received the Purple heart after being wounded in Vietnam March 21, then returned to active duty April 22. The Traer soldier had served in Vietnam since Oct. 10, and was to return to the states in 3½ months. He was serving with the 1st Cavalry division in Vietnam.”

“Specialist Kopriva is survived by his parents; three brothers, LeRoy of Decorah, Joseph Jr. of Traer and Larry of La Porte City; four sisters, JoAnn Kopriva, Verna Kopriva, Mrs. Ronald (Patricia) Hulme and Mrs. Gene (Beverly) Rund, all of Traer; and a grandmother, Mrs. Vera Zmolek of Traer.”