LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech University’s southwest collection will be taken on the road this weekend during the U.S. Department of Defense`s “Welcome Home” event held in Washington D.C., which commemorates the 50th anniversary of American troops returning from the Vietnam War.

Steve Maxner, director of the Vietnam Center and Sam Johnson Vietnam archive said their collection is one of a kind featuring 30 million pieces from the Vietnam War, making it the second biggest archive behind the national archive. 

Maxner said there are many items big and small featured, including photographs and handwritten letters, to five helicopters saved from the historic war. 

He said they hope to visit with veterans about how to preserve their war artifacts, but also want to educate others on the importance of those who served.

“We can visit with them about what we’re doing there and hopefully they can enjoy that celebration of American veteran service,” Maxner said.

Maxner has a special spot for each piece collected, especially after serving in the army himself.

“Some of my earliest memories are of the Vietnam War on television, I think that’s what a lot of my generation kind of takes away from that experience,” Maxner said. “It’s the first televised war for us and so that was part of my childhood experience.” 

Maxner said his experience led him to serve in the army, and now he works with Vietnam veterans on preserving their memories for the archive.

“We’ll make sure that they know there’s a home here at Texas Tech that wants to preserve their legacy of service.”

Maxner said they are working on having a separate museum to display all their pieces here in Lubbock, but are needing funding. To donate, visit the link here.

The archive will be on display at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Thursday through Saturday (May 11-13). The celebration will include flyovers, parachute drops, entertainment, historical exhibits, interactive engagements, and more.