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E. L. and Thelma Gaylord Special Exhibits Gallery

This gallery is host to revolving exhibits heralding Oklahoma’s important citizens and rich heritage.

Welcome Home: Oklahomans and the War in Vietnam

Welcome Home: Oklahomans and the War in Vietnam exhibit looks at more than the historic events that occurred during the war. It explores the impact of the war on Oklahoma families, as told through the stories of the young men and women who served their country in the armed services and the immigrant families who fled Vietnam and came to Oklahoma seeking freedom and opportunity.

The story begins with a look at the family histories of Oklahomans who served in Vietnam. This opening section concludes with the stories of young people from those families who volunteered to serve their country in the armed services during the war.

The second section explores the roots of Vietnamese families that eventually relocated to Oklahoma. It also follows American military personnel and Vietnamese families onto the stage of war during the 1960s and 1970s. This includes stories of those in uniform, both American and Vietnamese, as well as stories of civilians whose lives were changed forever.

The next section tells the Vietnamese refugees’ harrowing stories of escape as they left all they had known in their homeland to obtain safety, security, and opportunity in the United States. While they left under varying circumstances, they shared the common goal of a new life. The fourth and final section of the exhibit brings Oklahoma-born military personnel and immigrants back to Oklahoma, where their stories continue as they deal with challenges and seize opportunities. The exhibit provides a contemporary portrait of Oklahoma’s diversity set against the backdrop of historic events.

In preparation for Welcome Home: Oklahomans and the War in Vietnam, the Oklahoma History Center transported a newly acquired Huey helicopter to Oklahoma City. This addition to the exhibit honors those who stepped up and served in the War in Vietnam and was donated by native Oklahoman Bob Ford, who said, “Any Army pilot or crew member who had the privilege to fly the Huey in combat loves it; it never let us down.”

The aircraft came from Weatherford, Texas, escorted by the Oklahoma Patriot Guard Riders. The Huey was installed the following day and is suspended from the History Center atrium.

NewsOK.com shared more info about the exhibit in a recent article: Wall That Heals and new exhibit explore Vietnam War’s impact on local families.

Pictured above, left: First Lieutenant Bob Ford in Hue, South Vietnam, January 1968. Right: Ban Nguyen with his father and sister in South Vietnam. Ban is an operating partner of Jimmy’s Egg restaurants, which is owned by his father-in-law Loc Le.

Oklahomans and the War in Vietnam trunk

We need your help! To enhance the educational experience associated with the new exhibit Welcome Home: Oklahomans and the War in Vietnam, the Education Department would like to develop a new traveling trunk. The content will explore the impact of the war on Oklahomans, both the service members who fought and the Vietnamese refugees who fled to the state. The trunk will include lesson plans, photographs, books, documentaries, military items, traditional Vietnamese objects, and other materials that the students can touch to bring history alive.

The goal to purchase everything needed for the Oklahomans and the War in Vietnam trunk is $1,500. You are invited to make a tax-deductible donation in any amount to help us put together this new education trunk. Click the Donate now button and be sure to type “Vietnam Trunk” in the “Direct my donation to...” field. We appreciate your support!

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