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Exhibit brings Vietnam War experience to life at Patriots Point

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Have you ever wondered what it was like during the Vietnam War? A new exhibit at Patriots Point brings the whole experience to life.

The Vietnam Experience opens to the public Saturday. It's an interactive exhibit with various artifacts such as helicopters and a patrol boat in addition to videos and sound effects that really take you back to the Vietnam War.

It's a hero's welcome home, and an exhibit dedicated to those we proudly served the country during the Vietnam War.

"We are basically zeroing in on the period of the TET Offensive in 1968 with two different bases in Vietnam, one a Navy support base for patrol boats on the Mekong Delta and then a separate one which would be a piece of the Marine base at Khe Sanh with a Marine artillery fire base," said Mac Burdette, Executive Director of Patriots Point.

And as soon as visitors walk in, they are taken back in time. Hearing the sound of helicopters brings back memories for Vietnam veteran Pat Deweese.

"That is a fighter coming across. Hopefully he is dropping some napalm or something," said Deweese.

Deweese volunteered to serve after hearing a classmate was killed in action.

"This is what we had back in '68 and '69 when I was there. I was stationed just outside Da Nang, Vietnam but this is the Medevac helicopter -- plenty of room inside," said Deweese. "Only one casualty in here right now but we could get six guys in here. I only did this for about three months until I was helping another guy back to the helicopter and then I got wounded so then I worked in the operating room from then on as a surgical technician."

He says he comes to Patriots Point as often as he can, but this new addition really hits home.

"It just brings back so many memories. I love coming here," said Deweese. "Good and bad, I try to block the bad ones out. This is a sweet bird, saved a lot of lives."

But there is more than the UH1 helicopter on display. Every video and sound effect on the site makes visitors feel like they were there. Some videos even take people into middle of the war zone.

It's an interactive experience that Deweese says is important so that we never forget the sacrifices of war.

"So no one forgets these guys right here, these guys on these stretchers, the guys that didn't come back," said Deweese. "The 58,479 guys that did not come back."

Those at Patriots Point want this exhibit to educate and entertain those that visit, but most importantly to honor those that served.

"We feel like that Vietnam veterans did not get the recognition, the respect that they deserve when they came home from that long war," said Burdette. "We want Patriots Point to be the place that Vietnam veterans think of as a place they can come to reflect with their families and their friends about their service in Vietnam and we kind of call it the homecoming they never got."

This new exhibit is free to all Vietnam veterans Saturday, Nov. 8 and Sunday, Nov. 9. Then on Tuesday, Veteran's Day, all veterans will enjoy free admission.

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