AUGUSTA — A berthing unit from a U.S. Navy ship will be on display this week at the University of Maine at Augusta, along with the actual notes and artwork scrawled inside the sleeping area by soldiers and Marines – many from Maine – who were transported on the ship.

The unit is from the USNS General Nelson M. Walker, a 608-foot long troopship that sailed to Vietnam throughout 1966 and 1967 and was capable of carrying 5,000 troops at a time, according to a news release from the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, which is co-hosting the exhibit.

An eight-man berthing unit, complete with original sheets, pillows and life vests, that was removed from a Navy troopship that transported troops to Vietnam in the 1960s will be on display at the University of Maine at Augusta this week. Notes and drawings by soldiers “knowingly being delivered to war and possible death” are the focus of the Vietnam Graffiti Project. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Graffiti Project

The Vietnam Graffiti Project, as the traveling exhibit is known, will be on display in the Danforth Gallery at Jewett Hall through Friday, with visiting hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On Thursday, there will also be a ceremony to honor Vietnam veterans from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the exhibit.

“The Walker troopship was a vessel whose passengers were knowingly being delivered to war and possible death,” said Gregory Fahy, dean of arts and sciences at UMA. “The images and writings they left behind are full of love, anger, and dark humor. They provide a vivid, candid portrait of one of the most turbulent times in American history.”

At the ceremony Thursday, Vietnam veterans from Maine will receive the veterans bureau’s Vietnam certificate and coin, in addition to a lapel pin from the national 50th Commemoration celebration.

For more information regarding the ceremony or to register for it as a Vietnam veteran, contact Laura Allen at 430-5816 or [email protected]

According to the news release, the berthing unit was preserved as an exhibit by Art Beltrone, a military artifact historian..