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Local veterans hold two-man Memorial Day observance

An interesting coincidence occurred just days before Memorial Day, as two local veterans made separate plans to honor this nation’s fallen servicemen and women at the Chief Tecopa Veterans’ Memorial.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jose Telles said he was talking to fellow Marine Corps veteran Burt Gigoux when they discovered they had comparable ideas on how to pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the annual Memorial Day service at the site was canceled this year.

“I was talking to Burt and he told me that he had planned on playing ‘Taps’ all by himself here,” Telles said after the tribute. “It was very interesting because I had planned to lay a Memorial Day wreath here all by myself. We got together, and here we are.”

Following the brief 8 a.m. two-man ceremony, Gigoux said he’s been playing “Taps” on the bugle each Memorial Day for the past 20 years.

“It’s 24 notes that honor our deceased brothers,” he said. “I joined the United States Marine Corps in 1966 on a two-year enlistment, and I got out in 1968.

The bugle, Gigoux noted, also has an interesting history behind it, as well as the original owner, who is now deceased,

It should be noted that Gigoux was a resident of Montana before relocating to the Pahrump Valley.

“This bugle belonged to the signalman who sent out the message in Morse Code that Pearl Harbor was under attack and it was not a drill,” he recalled. “His daughter was on the cemetery board in Billings, Montana, and when they removed all of the stuff from his house, they found this bugle. It was probably from his days with the American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps. They presented it to me and I have been playing it ever since, so it has traveled with me. I’m accustomed to big services. We built a veterans’ cemetery through the county in Billings, and we were able to get it nationalized in 2014, and I played at five of them every Memorial Day. Three years ago, I drove up there just to play ‘Taps’ at their Memorial Day ceremony. It was very disappointing when I learned that we could not have a formal Memorial Day service here in town.”

Telles, who joined the Marine Corps in 1953, and retired in 1978, was one of the main coordinators of the Chief Tecopa Veterans’ Memorial.

He spoke about his efforts to establish the facility located at 751 East Street.

“In 2003, I was approached by our former Buildings and Grounds Manager Matt Luis, who asked me if I could help him create a veterans’ memorial here,” Telles said. “So there was an opportunity for me to help Pahrump get a memorial created in 2007. We had a very nice opening with over 250 people in attendance, and the VFW organized it. At the time I was telling our veterans it was the first time Pahrump ever had a real traffic jam. Ever since, I have been coming here for every Memorial Day observance. It’s a very beautiful veterans’ memorial, and the memorial committee has been doing a real good job in keeping it up. I really love this place.”

When asked whether some Americans actually know the true meaning of Memorial Day, beyond pool parties and backyard barbecues, Gigoux’ response was quick and to the point.

“We hold our services in the morning to honor our dead and the ones who have fought for our freedom, so people are free to have their barbecues in the afternoon,” he said.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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