America’s Heroes and Boulder City, or Why We Love Veterans
Larry was a special friend, a fishing buddy. Fishing buddies lie, cheat, compete, and, sometimes, are even willing to die for one another. The first time we ever went fishing together, I remember us sizing each other up. He had nice, very new gear with a very pretty lure that I was sure no self-respecting fish would attack unless he got really pissed off at it. Larry boasted, “This lure is going to catch the biggest fish of the day. Wanna bet?”
We stood on opposite sides of a very narrow point and started to cast. First cast, and bam! — I get one. Big smile, probably more noise than was necessary, but then the first fish was mine. Larry kept casting with a confidence that indicated that a fish was on the way, when, bam! — I caught another. The second fish, I could tell, was starting to piss Larry off. And at this point in our relationship he was more client then fishing buddy, so I thought I might advance a suggestion that might relieve the tension by offering Larry to fish on my side of the point … as though it was obviously just my luck to be casting at the the side of the point where all the fish were. Larry took the offer, and we switched spots and started to cast anew, when, yeah, you know it, bam! — I caught another beauty.
Larry looked a little incredulous with his mouth open, and I quickly seized upon a moment of inspiration and switched rods and lures with him. This moment seemed to resonate with Larry too, because he seemed happier than the moment before. I hesitated even casting that pretty lure. It was silver and red and had what appeared to be an airbrushed design that looked good at eye level in the expensive zone at the tackle shop and worked great at catching fisherman, but generally scared fish. Still, I felt like I should try it, since Larry would have much more satisfaction catching a fish with my tackle if I was nearby, fruitlessly exercising my wrist.
Well, as the day was going … you know the rest. Casting with a lackadaisical indifference, I still somehow managed to hook what I knew was a trout that had a name. I even tried to lose that fish, fearing that I had just lost a good client to a stupid fish. But somehow the fish managed to almost land itself. Fearing the worse, I pulled up the fish by it’s jaw and turned to Larry, who to my surprise had a big grin on his face. “I told you that that lure would catch the biggest fish.” So I paid him the twenty I’d bet him, and we were both happy. From that day on we were fishing buddies.
Larry was a Vietnam Veteran. He joined the Air Force rather then be drafted into the Army. So, Larry didn’t have to carry a gun, and some of his adventures even sounded fun. But one of the things he did in Vietnam was hang around and help load planes carrying Agent Orange. Larry had a few health issues, but he was not a complainer or blamer, and most of all he was a patriot who felt he was doing his duty. Larry was a soldier, father and a mentor to countless people, and he died way too early (at 68) from complications caused by lack of oxygen. Thank you, Larry, for your service and for being my hero and my fishing buddy.
Larry’s final resting place will be the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City. Many veterans have retired in Boulder City and we have the American Legion Post 31, Nevada State Veterans Home and the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, not to mention the City Cemetery. Whether in the ground, driving around town, hanging out in the gardens, or fishing on a point at Lake Mead, if you live in Boulder City, you know a veteran. Thanks, Buddy, for your service, sacrifice and friendship.
— Alan Goya