CORPUS CHRISTI – Late last month, the Texas Surf Museum unveiled a new Vietnam Veterans Memorial entitled “Waves of Honor” and features two walls of dog tags – one for each of the 3,414 Texans who died in the Vietnam Conflict.

The tribute was inspired by the museum’s current exhibit on loan from the California Surf Museum, “China Beach: Surfers, the Vietnam War, and the Healing Power of Wave-riding.”

It is located at 309 N. Water St. in downtown Corpus Christi.

About the “China Beach” exhibit, Curator and President of the California Surf Museum Jim Kempton said, “The exhibit depicts the unique surfing experience of the era – what it meant to those veterans, and how they were able to use surfing as a healing mechanism both during the war and after they returned.

“The war in Vietnam came at a time of great upheaval both for surfing and in the world at large. The years from 1965 to 1973 saw a massive and radical change – in politics, surfboard design, music and culture.

“This exhibit explores the war’s effects on the surfers who served there, and the changes that occurred in surfing during the years of conflict.

“Most of all China Beach reveals the healing power of wave-riding for which the Vietnam War and surfing will forever be linked.”

The exhibit features surfboards, memorabilia, photos, videos and stories from the soldiers that surfed the Vietnam waves as well as tools used to make boards overseas.

There’s also replicas of the China Beach lifeguard station and full-size recreation of the China Beach Surf Club from 1967. 

After the installation of the “China Beach” exhibit, museum board members reflected on the environment surrounding Vietnam and wanted to create a memorial to honor Texans who died in service to our country.

“There is a dog tag with the name of every Texan who fought and died, a total of 3,414, placed on the memorial so they can receive the respect and appreciation they deserved then and still deserve today.” Chair of the Board of Directors for the Texas Surf Museum Brad Lomax said.

Executive Director of the Texas Surf Museum Emily Veazey added, “This memorial is bigger than our organization, bigger than our city.

“The Waves of Honor wall belongs to the state of Texas. It is our hope that citizens from every corner of our state visit our museum to see this display in person.”

The “Waves of Honor” Wall was originally only going to be on display until the conclusion of the China Beach exhibit, but its significance and popularity may give it a home at the museum permanently.

A ribbon cutting for the exhibit is scheduled for Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. 

Following the ribbon cutting, beginning at noon, board members, staff and volunteers will read the names of all 3,414 individuals honored on the “Wave of Honor” Wall.

Anyone who would like to make a donation towards the cost of the fabrication and installation of the memorial are directed to the memorial’s Go Fund Me page, Texas Surf Museum’s “Wave of Honor” Wall. Giving may be made in honor of friends and family.

For more information, visit texassurfmuseum.org or call the museum at 361-882-2364. 

“While we cannot bring back their loved ones, we pray that this small gesture brings honor and comfort to their families,” Veazey said.