Vietnam Bronze Map Memorial
Vietnam Southeast Asia Monumental Bronze Map
- Vietnam Southeast Asia Memorial Pavilion
- USAF Academy Colorado
Dedicated 1 October 2010
On 1 October 2010 a large 8 foot tall bronze map of Vietnam and Southeast Asia was dedicated at the new Vietnam Pavilion at the United States Air Force Academy. Generously donated by the class of 1970, the building and map are designed to honor the 150 Academy Graduates who were killed in action as well as all graduates and service members who participated in the war. The sculpture measures 8 feet high and 7 feet wide and weighs 800 pounds. The sculptor James Nance, a Vietnam vet and former Air Force pilot, was commissioned by the class of 1970 to create the monument and took a year to hand sculpt every terrain form by referencing 490 million Digital Elevation Measurements taken from the space shuttle.
The solid feel, gravity, and permanence of bronze combined with the exaggerated vertical scale of 20x gives the map a powerful monumental presence, which invites the visitor to touch and remember. Since the dedication a steady stream of veterans and families from all services have visited the site and by touching the map have revisited their Vietnam experience with shared tears, laughter, and stories.
1. 2010: Southeast Asia Memorial Pavilion, USAF Academy Colorado
2. 2013 Museum of Flight, Seattle
3. 2019 Fairchild Hall, Cadet campus, USAF Academy, Colorado
Size: 94 inches tall by 81 inches wide
Area Covered: 900,000 Square Miles
Countries covered: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, (parts of China & Burma)
Material: Silicon bronze by the lost wax method of bronze casting
Weight: 800 pounds
Suitable for navigation: landforms based on topographical maps and space shuttle Digital Elevation Measurements
Vertical exaggeration factor: 20x
Viewing the map from 8 feet away would be like looking at the earth from 1,000 in space
Original Commission December 2009, Installed 21 September 2010
Commissioned as a gift to the Air Force Academy by the Academy graduating class of 1970 for their 40th reunion
Mounted vertically on the South wall in the new Vietnam Pavilion Memorial building which was also a gift from the class of 1970
- Major rivers and lakes painted blue. Mekong can be traced from the Delta into China.
- All major US airbases and all NVA air bases depicted with F-4 and MIG –21 icons.
- Most accurate depiction of “Ho Chi Minh Trail” network in existence, referenced by the artist directly from the commander of the North Vietnamese Army General Vo Nguyen Giap’s personal battlefield maps.
- Thirty selected major battle sites and towns depicted for geographical orientation.
- Unique hand applied, hot bronze, colored patina. Sealed and waxed. Green jungle is partially rubbed back to reveal highlights of rich French brown bronze patina on the mountain peaks.
- Oceans have a sculptured texture and when combined with an incredible multi layered patina (developed by the artist) has the illusion of looking into the water with coral reefs visible below the surface.
- Sculpted in high relief, the Vietnamese dragon “Ha Long” measures 16 inches long and is located on lower right of panel. Revered by the Vietnamese people as bringer of rain and prosperity, “Ha Long” is representative of Ying and Yang and is present on the US Vietnam service medal and the former South Vietnam crest.
- Latitude and longitude markers, legend, and distance scale
- Hand painted cast Vietnam Service ribbon 4 inches long
- Borders delineated by a cast raised polished bronze ribbon.
- All 4 military regions, I –IV Corps, delineated with polished borders.
- F-105 Compass rose