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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
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March 13, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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March 13, 1997
 

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10 Thursday, March 13, 1997 Pahrump Valley Gazette r i Revisiting Forgotten Memories By Robert Lowes When I first went to Korea back in the early fifties, I was among the first group of state- side replacements to arrive after the outbreak of the conflict between the north and the south. At the time, I was considered the "kid" in my unit. By the time of the buildup of our involvement began in Vietnam, a few short years later, the kids we were sending there to fight an unopular war thought of me, a few years their senior in both age and grade, as the "old man." How time flies when you are having fun. My fun during those intervening years consisted of starting a family and get- ting a foothold in my journalistic career. It wasn't until after the Robert Kennedy assonation in 1967 that I became personally involved in covering the war beyond the anti- war protests on college campuses and flag- burning demonstrations at military installa- tions. From those early experiences, guess you could have called me a "Dove" regarding the faraway war. However, by the time the war was finally over and I returned, I obviously had become a "Hawk." Not that I became a believer in the war, but as an eyewitness to the needless slaughter of young Americans lives as a result of a misguided national policy. I wrote for and about them, morethan I did in support of the war. Those fesh-faced kids, who served and survived are now in their late forties or early fifties, I'm sure con- tinue to think of me as the "old man," a title, which I now have grown to cherish rather than resent. Vietnam Veterans from opposite sides of the country gathered last week to honor and re- flect on some oflen-painful memories of America's most divisive and misunderstood war, which came as close to splitting the na- tion as did our own Civil War more than a hundred years earlier. Back in our nation's capitol, six United States Senators, all veterans of the war, joined with others in front of the V-shaped black granite Vietnam wall that carries the names of the 58,196 dead and missing. They came to honor the memories of these men on the 15th anniversary of the memorial to those who didn't make it back from the Southeast Asian war. Meanwhile, out here in the West, a small, but dedicated contingent of Vietnam-era vet- erans assembled on the desert sands of the de 00]a'vu time at memorial walls Amargosa Valley in Nye County to salute a traveling replica of the national monument, popularly known as the "Moving Wall," Those veterans from across the nation had just completed their 15th annual running of the annual 100-mile Death Valley Marathon to pay homage to fallen comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. This, perhaps marked the final running of the an- nual memorial run for the aging veterans. "The spirit is still willing," said run co- ordinator Hank Humphreys of Buf- falo, "but our war-worn knees are getting weak." "There are still veterans of that tragic war whose scars have not healed and who need our comfort and assistance. The next time you see one of them, all Americans should just say a long-overdue "Welcome home," said Sen John McCain, R-Ariz., who was captured, tor- tured and held prisoner by the North Vietnam- ese for seven long years after his Navy plane was shot down. We interviewed his father, the late Adm. John McCain, Sr., on an almost weekly basis when he was the head of CINCPAC. and were personally priledged to be one of the first correspondents to interview the young commander on his release from the infamous Hanoi Hilton It is with great pride and respect that I have followed the post war senatorial career of the youg Vietnam veteran from neighboring Ari- zona. McCain, who was joined at the recent D.C. ceremonies by five other Vietnam veterams who today are also United States Senators. They were: Sen. Charles Robb, D- Va., Sen. Bob Kerry, D-Neb., Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen.Max Clleland, D-Ga. McCain admitted that he, like millions of other Americanss, was not always a supporter of the memorial wall when it was first con- ceived. Built with contributions to the Viet- nam Veterans Memorial Fund, its stark design was criticised as being too gloomy. But all that changed when McCain himself visited the memorial one evening just out of curiosity and saw two Vietnam veterans - strangers to each other - meet at the wall. "In a few minutes, they were embracing like long lost friends and crying," said McCain, his Slim attempts songwriting 99 Bottles of beer on the wall. If one of those etc. etc. and it goes on for ever and ever. After I get done with my lateist project I will be able to sing my own version of this song. For years I've been experimenting with dif- ferent varations of solar heating. Most of the time I don't know what i'am doing but I go ahead and do it anyway. I've got the heat collect- ing part, down pretty Slim Sez good. It s a simple hot bv Slim Sirnes air system, where the sun " heats Aluminum pannels (made up of flattened cans what else.) The air hehindthese parinels gets up to around 160 to -180 degrees and is then drawn by a blower down into a heat sink room where in theory it will be available when needed. But here is where it fell short of the desired results. My first attempt of heat storage was to fill this room with rocks of varying sizes of which we have plenty of and being free was even better. The idea being that the incoming hot air circulating thru the rocks would heat them. This worked fair and maybe I shoulda quit while I was ahead. But then l read somewhere that wa- ter was an even better heat storage medium. So out comes the rocks. There sure seemed to bea lot more of them then when I put them in there. I used to wonder what was going on in there when I would hear panting and strange noises. I thought I had it solved as to what sort of wa- ter containers I could use watel] to replace the rocks. Out at the dump there are always a lot of empty 9ne gallon plastic milk jugs. If I filled them with it should do the job. Well sorta. Sorta that is till the got warmed up. Plastic melts when it gets hot and it's not to much fun when a room full of hot water trys to spread it- self all over the rest of ihe place. Ditto, bless her refrained from commenting. So out comes the now empty plastic bottles and I got me an almost empty heat sink room which every day would be filled with hot air which would be allright if I was a politician. What to replace voiice heavy with emotion. "It made it clear to me that this was a wonderful place of rec- onciliation, a wonderful place of healiing." Sen. Charles Robb agreed with his colleague and fellow veteran. Even though the construc- tion of the wall was an experiment that we were not sure would work, Robb said the monument served its purpose from the beginning as a place of healing'that continues to this day. Sen. Bob Kerrey said the final step to- ward that healing pro- cess will be made when former Rep. Pete Peterson, D-FIa, who was aptured and held prisoner after his plane was downed, takes up his post as the first U.S. ambassador to postwar Vietnam later this year. "The body heals much quicker than the spirit and the heart," said Kerrey, who lost part of his right leg in the war in a mine explosion. Like the six senators, millions of Americans have found solace in reading the names in- scribed on the wall. More than 2.5 mill people visit the D.C. wall every year , making it the most visited monument in Washington. Typical of those visiting the monument for the first time, Nye County Commissioner Bobby Revert told us that it was the most-mov- ing experience of his life to read and touch the names 58,196 dead and missing. The visitors, some with lips quivering, others with tears in their eyes, frequently leave personal momentos at the base of the wall, which is comprised of 140tablets of polished black granite.  . , The c0nfirind dead are marked with  dia- mond; those missing in action with a cross; those MIAs whose remains have been positevly identified have a diamond superimposed on the CROSS. ,   Now twenty-two years after the last Ameri- can soldier left Vietnam, the senators sadly re- flected on the legacy of the wall. They then laid a wreath at the base of the monument. At the conclusion of equally emotional cer- emonies in the Amargosa Valley, the Moving Wall traveled to Death Valley and then on Barstow and Ridgecrest, Calif. The local visit of the Wall was co-sponsored by Jim Marsh of the Inn/Casino and Amargosa Valley VFW Post 6826. them with that would last and more importantly be free? Looking out in the yard. I saw a pile of dif- ferent glass bottles leftovers from when I built my underground Greenhouse-chicken coop roof. Fill then with water and it should work real well to store heat. Of course like all projects there wasn't enough of them. I guess I coulda hung out in the local pubs doing my part to generate moreempty bottles. But found that my kidneys wern't up to it and after a while who cares about filling heat slnks. The answer to my bottle supply problem came as we were driving to town the other day. All along the road sides were beer bottles depos- ited by drivers observing the empty open con- tainer laws. So thats what is rapidly filling my heat sink room. It would be interesting to be around a few centurys from now, when some researcher digging found my stash of bottles. I wonder what would be going through their minds. Have a good one I gota go out and get some more bottles.