Fifty years after the never-officially declared Vietnam War claimed more than 58,000 American lives before it ended in 1975, Patriots Point hopes to mark the anniversary with a new exhibit and program by the end of next year.

Agenda items

In other Patriots Point business:

Board member Susan Marlowe, who heads the Education and Museum Services Committee, said 250 teachers from the S.C. Council for Social Studies will hold their conference on the World War II-era aircraft carrier Yorktown Sept. 26-28. It’s the first time the group hasn’t met at a hotel.

The new Flight Academy will open in March, boosting the number of overnight campers.

With the return of cooler weather, Patriots Point will bring back Open Cockpit Sunday this weekend. It’s a chance for visitors to get inside certain aircraft exhibits that are normally closed. Other dates for the event include Oct. 13, Nov. 10 and Dec. 8.

Details are still being worked out along with funding, but executive director Mac Burdette said Wednesday he wants the state agency to spearhead the state’s commemoration to help draw visitors to the naval and maritime museum in Mount Pleasant.

Burdette hopes to secure the traveling Vietnam Wall exhibit as part of the commemoration, which will last through 2025 and mark major milestones of the failed effort to contain communism in the southeast Asian nation.

Though the U.S. was involved much earlier after the conflict began in the 1950s, America did not commit ground troops until March 1965, so the official 50th anniversary will be recognized in 2015 nationally.

On the early and evolving program, Burdette wants to include Vietnam prisoners of war, other Vietnam War veterans and retired Maj. Gen. Jim Livingston of Mount Pleasant, a Medal of Honor recipient for his combat actions during the Vietnam War.

Burdette said Patriots Point has secured $15,000 from real estate investment company Lupert Adler and another $15,000 from Charleston hotel developer Mike Bennett to help with the commemoration. Charleston County has offered $25,000 in accommodations tax money to pay for marketing but could pledge more once Patriots Point puts a plan in place by December, Burdette said.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or