The site is on an overpass straddling Interstate 95 which is also called the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway.
Landscape architect Perry M. Morgan won the design competition for the memorial. He created two facing walls - a curved wall inscribed with the names of the men killed in action facing a straight wall engraved with scenes from the war.
The two walls are composed of polished, charcoal gray granite which were quarried in Cold Spring, Minnesota.
The images on the granite panels were based on sketches by Tom Rice, a graduate student at Temple University's Tyler School of Art. They are arranged in a left to right chronological order, beginning with the launching of the US carrier aircraft in August, 1964 and concluding with the rescue of Vietnamese refugees at the US Embassy in April, 1975.
To the left of the scene panels is a similarly sized panel inscribed with the insignias of the five branches of service above a world map; to the right is a panel inscribed with a large map of Southeast Asia.