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 OHIO alumnus James William Reed was killed in action during the Vietnam War.

OHIO alumnus James William Reed was killed in action during the Vietnam War.

Photo courtesy of: The Reeds

Jeff W. Reed and Jeff A. Reed stand by their uncle's name, James W. Reed on 'The Wall That Heals.'

Jeff L. Reed and Jeff W. Reed stand by their uncle's name, James W. Reed on 'The Wall that Heals.'

Photographer: Maisee Fried

Veterans pay their respects to fallen soldiers at 'The Wall that Heals' Exhibit.

Veterans pay their respects to fallen soldiers at 'The Wall that Heals' Exhibit.

Photographer: Maisee Fried

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A Bobcat Wherever He Went, James William Reed Honored By 'The Wall That Heals'

The Vietnam War exhibit bears the name of the alumnus, who inspired his family’s love for OHIO


James W. Reed, BSJ ’66, was a Bobcat wherever he went.

Though he died during the Vietnam War, his admiration for Ohio University lives on through his two nephews.

James W. Reed was killed in action July 24, 1970 after taking a flight that was meant to be for another pilot. The Scripps College of Communication graduate stepped up to take the flight of a new father. He was supposed to return home that month.

His love for Ohio University inspired both his nephew, Jeff L. Reed, BSJ ’71, and great nephew, Jeff W. Reed, BSC ’06, to attend OHIO.

“He was like a big brother to me, I really looked up to him. He absolutely influenced my decision to come to OHIO and study communications,” his nephew said.

“I wanted to come here because my dad came here and also because my [great] uncle came here. I’m named after my uncle,” said his great nephew, who is also a board member of the OHIO Alumni Association.  

Both father, Jeff L. Reed, and son, Jeff W. Reed, visited Athens over the weekend to view “The Wall that Heals” and pay their respects to their uncle and the fallen veterans who served during the Vietnam War.

“The Wall That Heals” is a half-scale, 250-foot-long replica of the “Vietnam Veterans Memorial” in Washington, D.C. The mobile exhibit is touring the nation.

It was on display 24 hours a day at OHIO’s Bicentennial Park Sept. 14-17. Unveiled on Veterans Day 1996, “The Wall That Heals” is an outreach effort of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring and preserving the legacy of service and educating all generations about the impact of the Vietnam War. 

The trailer that carries “The Wall That Heals” doubles as a mobile education center, displaying information about the era and the service members whose names appear on the wall.

Just like the original wall, “The Wall That Heals” lists names in order of causality. Both memorials bear the name of OHIO alumnus James W. Reed.

Jeff L. Reed was surprised to find out the wall was coming to Athens.

“Time has a way of healing wounds, and the wall coming here is a way for people to pay respects. It gives people an opportunity to appreciate the sacrifices that some of their fellow Americans made in defense of the nation and the stopping of communism,” he said. 

Viewing the memorial in Athens made an impact on the Reeds.  

“To have that wall traveling the country and specifically to OHIO, a place that was special to me and to my dad and to my uncle — to have his sacrifice and legacy here is very special,” Jeff W. Reed said.

He said the measures his great uncle took to protect another pilot spoke about his uncle’s time as a Bobcat.

“The love Bobcats have for OHIO is a love for something bigger than ourselves. I think we Bobcats love this school so much, we understand committing ourselves to something greater. And that’s exactly what my uncle did, he gave his life to something greater than himself,” he said.