Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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May 27, 2013

Visit to Vietnam War Memorial sparks vets’ memories

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The first time he visited the Wall, Lynn McIntosh was deeply troubled by the asterisk beside his childhood friend’s name. Jack Dove was a year older than McIntosh as they were growing up on Jefferson Street in the West Graham section of Bluefield, Va., but all the neighborhood kids were tight.

“I wasn’t there. My friend was. When his buddies left, he stayed,” McIntosh wrote in the opening stanza of a poem called “Jack” that he wrote following a recent visit to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington. McIntosh spent 40 years living and working in the Washington area with Westwood One and other network radio broadcast groups. His voice still exudes the familiar dulcet tones that radio listeners have counted on for many years.

“On my first visit there, it was the asterisk beside Jack’s name that gave me pause,” McIntosh said during a telephone interview from his home in Gainesville, Va. “I see that and it’s what keeps drawing me back to the Wall. You’ll see people go there and become very emotional. It’s almost ...,” he said and paused. “There’s something magic about the place. People are not going to let it go.”

Captain Jack Paris Dove left his family — a young wife, Ginger, and their daughter, Jill — and his home in Bluefield, Va., in December of 1966 and deployed to Vietnam with the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force sent Captain Dove to Vietnam to complete his 100 flying missions. He and his instructor pilot, Lt. Col. Boyd Squire, took off in a T-28D aircraft on July 12, 1967 on what was Dove’s 93rd mission.

The two pilots were flying at low altitude in mountainous country on a night reconnaissance mission and to drop bombs on enemy trucks traveling on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. When Dove identified enemy trucks on the move, he radioed back the location and requested permission to fire. The two officers were never heard from again.

Dove, 26, was reported missing in action with his aircraft shot down in enemy territory. About a month after the family was notified that Dove was missing, the community gathered for a memorial service in his memory. The military headstone bearing Dove’s name still stands at the front of the Graham Christian Church on Virginia Avenue in West Graham.

Dove wasn’t among the U.S. prisoners of war who were released in 1973, but as the years moved by, the Department of Defense notified Dove’s family they had recovered some personal items from the crash site, according to an article posted earlier this year on the Virginia War Memorial website. The family learned that the remains of the two pilots had been recovered on June 1, 1992, and in August 1995, the remains of Dove and Squire were buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

“We quietly walked through the grass that day, carefully avoiding the stones,” McIntosh wrote in his poem. “His mother, his family, his friends, his country standing with him. I want to believe he knew we were there.”

During the telephone interview, McIntosh recalled standing beside another young man that he would later realize was another close friend, Jackie Richardson, the late son of former Bluefield, Va., Mayor Cecile Barrett. “Jackie and I hadn’t seen each other in years,” McIntosh said. “We were at Arlington, standing side by side. It was quite an emotional day.”

Through the years since 1995, McIntosh has continued making visits to the Wall and looking at Dove’s name. “Now — his name, his part of the Wall. His space there so small, yet so big,” he wrote in his poem. “Looking out in the mist of morning in the light of day, seeing the faces soon to walk by his Wall, knowing the tears are going to fall.”

McIntosh said that he and his wife, Carol, visited the Vietnam War Memorial a week after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. “We were about the only people in the downtown that day except for police,” he said. “It was eerie quiet. Eventually, I looked up and realized it was so quiet because the airport was shut down and there weren’t any planes overhead.”

McIntosh said he continues to visit Bluefield, Va., when he can, although his parents have since passed away. He shares old photographs with present Bluefield, Va., Mayor Don Harris and allows his memories of growing up in Bluefield float in his mind.

“So many years — now gone and I still walk slowly by the Wall, seeing what isn’t ... seeing what is,” he wrote in his poem. “And we are still touching; rubbing the names; questioning. Why — There.”

McIntosh wrote in a letter dated April 19: “With Memorial Day coming up and the possibility of any special coverage planned by the Telegraph to honor locals who will be remembered on that day, I thought that something that I wrote ... might have some interest, if nothing more than to spark an idea that might include my friend, Jack.”

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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