By Selwyn Harris
Memorial Day observances were held at several venues throughout Nye County this last weekend.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10054 on Homestead observed the holiday with an annual service at Chief Tecopa Cemetery on West Street in Pahrump on Monday.
Post Commander Tom Vick, who served four years in Vietnam, said though he could not attend this year, it is something he enjoys doing every year.
“I just did not have the time to get down there, but from what I heard from everybody, my senior vice did a great job and had nothing but compliments on the ceremony and all. It is something that we are required to do every year and whether it’s required or not, it’s something that we enjoy doing to pay our respects to the fallen,” he said.
VFW Senior Vice Commander Wilbur Wilberschied presided over the ceremony.
Wilberschied said it was a great honor to participate in Vick’s absence.
“Like a lot of Vietnam vets, I lost friends from high school there. I lost uncles from previous wars and it’s an honorable day. It needs to be respected as such,” he said.
He also noted the importance of not losing the real message of Memorial Day as it relates to other activities.
“When I see people using Memorial Day for selling cars and furniture it’s a little disrespectful to me. Nobody goes to school, the banks are all closed. All of the public buildings are closed,” he said.
Chaplain Kenny James played Taps at the end of the ceremony.
He noted that the opportunity to play the tribute was a huge honor for him.
“I feel like it is my duty to go down. I’ve been in Pahrump for a long time and I think this is my 20th ceremony. I’ve had the opportunity to meet all of my friends and comrades from the wars back to Korea. Now I notice that they are getting fewer and fewer, but it is an honor. We have a lot of young people who are overseas right now and years to come. They will be filling the seats that Wilbur and I have vacated and it is their duty,” he said.
Similar events occurred over the weekend in Beatty and Tonopah in Northern Nye County. Tonopah’s annual Jim Butler Days coincides with Memorial Day weekend.
As a pre-Memorial Day observance back in Pahrump the Senior Center held its annual flag retirement ceremony on Friday.
The theme of the program this year entitled “What has Gone Wrong,” was presented by Transportation Director Don McIntosh.
The ceremony featured a moment of silence, and the official retirement of the center’s flag, followed by a Presentation of Colors and the National Anthem.
McIntosh said the ceremony, including the weather was one of the best ever.
“It went absolutely fantastic. I had several compliments and there was a lot of patriotism and you could feel it in the air. One man who has lived in Nevada for many years said it was the best ceremony that he has ever seen,” he said.
Another ceremony held at G.G. Sweet Veterans Memorial Park took place on Monday.
Sweet was a decorated Marine Corps veteran who passed away in June 2010.
His ashes were interred during last year’s ceremony.
Vick, meanwhile, noted that another well respected local veteran who was a regular attendee in years past, passed away this year.
Matthew Bates was a prisoner of war in World War II.
Vick called Bates one of the last of the great ones.
“Matthew spent three years as a POW in Germany. He was always a joy to have around. We really miss Matthew. We miss them all,” Vick said.
Bates took part in the Normandy invasion in June 1944. Later, allies mistakenly bombed the freight train he was on while being transported to a prisoner of war camp.
He was taken prisoner after being captured during the first wave of the attack in the bloody Battle of the Bulge.
Bate died Feb. 19, 2012 at age 94.