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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (02/2006) Headlines (01/2006) Headlines (05/2006)   Vol. 40 February 2006 
Treasure In The Headlines
As seen in the February 2006 edition of W&ET Magazine

MARBLE STATUES FROM ROMAN ERA UNEARTHED

The life-sized marble statues of two ancient Greek goddesses have emerged during excavations of a 5,000-year-old town on the island of Crete, archeologists said recently.

The works, representing the goddesses Athena and Hera, date to between the 2nd and 4th Centuries A.D.- during the period of Roman rule in Greece- and originally decorated the Roman theater in the town of Gortyn, said archeologist Anna Micheli from the Italian School of Archaeology.

"They are in very good condition,"she said, adding that the statue of Athena, goddess of wisdom, was complete, while Hera- long-suffering wife of Zeus, the philandering king of gods- was headless.

"But we hope to find the head in the surrounding area,"Micheli said.

Standing 6 feet high with their bases, the works were discovered recently by a team of Italian and Greek archeologists excavating the ruined theater of Gortyn, about 27 miles south of Iraklion.

From the Chicago Tribune, submitted by Bob Bolek, Hometown, IL.



FIRE GUTS HISTORIC LEWIS AND CLARK SITE FORT

A 50-year-old replica of the fort where the Lewis and Clark expedition spent the soggy winter of 1805-06 was destroyed by a suspicious fire, authorities said recently.

Volunteer firefighters worked for hours to try to save Ft. Clatsop at the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park after the fire broke out, park superintendent Chip Jenkins said. But "half of the fort was burned up, and the other half is essentially a loss,"he said.

The site was being treated as a crime scene, and investigators said they were looking for a truck seen leaving the area as the firefighters arrived.

State police and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were sending dogs trained to sniff out the presence of any flammable liquids.

Jenkins said the fort had no electricity or gas source.

The fire happened less than six weeks before a Lewis and Clark bicentennial event was scheduled to be held at the fort, the culmination of a two-year national celebration of the explorers' journey west. The expedition wintered at Ft. Clatsop after reaching the Pacific Ocean in November 1805.

"We will rebuild,"Jenkins said. "The Lewis and Clark bicentennial events will go on through the winter."

The fort, a popular tourist attraction, is the centerpiece of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park, which is among the newest of the nation's 388 national parks. The 10,000-acre park is made up of several sites in Oregon and Washington linked to the westward end of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806.

The 50-by-50-foot replica fort was built in 1955 to mark the sesquicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition. It was built near the site where experts believe the original stood, its design based on drawings and descriptions in the journals of William Clark and Meriwether Lewis. Five years after the Lewis and Clark expedition left Ft. Clatsop and started for home, fur traders sent by New York financier John Jacob Astor arrived on the coast and built their own fort. The site of that fort became the city of Astoria.

From the Chicago Tribune, submitted by Bob Bolek, Hometown, IL.



STOLEN WALLETS BRING FLASHBACK FOR OLD SOLDIERS

Crews demolishing old military barracks on the sprawling base of Camp Roberts near Paso Robles, California, stumbled on a surprising find: wallets.

Tumbling out of heating ducts suspended from the ceilings, the wallets were stuffed with remarkable well-preserved personal belongings dating from World War II and the Korean War.

Love letters. Religious medals. Base passes. High school identification cards. Driver's licenses. Dog tags. Snapshots. Tips for surviving an atomic blast.

The only thing missing was money.

An intensive search has reunited all but three of 25 wallets with their owners or relatives.

Staff Sgt. Tom Murotake of the California Army National Guard, who is in charge of the investigation, calls the three unclaimed wallets his "cold cases."

One belongs to Joe Dean Hougland, a 73-year-old man Murotake described as a "Crocodile Dundee-type believed to be wandering the desert between Arizona and Mexico."

Another belonged to Perfecto Pacheco, who was 54 when he died in 1984 in Puerto Rico. Murotake continues to search for relatives who might want the wallet, letters, religious medals, military documents, meal cards, passes and snapshots.

One photo was from his mother, Panchita, who wrote a note on the back in Spanish: "A mi querido hijo, con todo el carino de tu madre que no te olvida"- "To my beloved son, with all the love of your mother, who doesn't forget you."

The fact that none of the wallets contained any money leads Murotake to conclude they were stolen.

"The thefts usually involved a trusting guy from a small town who set his wallet down, then got distracted,"he said. "Someone else, in one fluid motion, nabbed the wallet, snatched the cash and chucked the rest into the heating duct overhead."

Over the decades, the heat turned the leather into something resembling beef jerky, but left everything inside intact.

Murotake said the wallets become instant "touchstones,"jolting memories back to a grueling and uncertain time when thousands of recruits converged at the base for 13 weeks of basic training.

From there, they were shipped out to the front lines in Europe, the Pacific and Asia- some without their cherished photos and pocket keepsakes.

The wallets they left behind offer a glimpse inside life in the 63-man barracks on the 43,000-acre base straddling Highway 101, once the world's largest infantry and field artillery training center.

Take the romance tucked inside the glassine pouches of a wallet taken from Patrick John McElholm, of Bellingham, Washington, during the Korean War.

McElholm's wallet had pictures and letters from a sweetheart. Her name was Barbara Nolde, a woman with dark hair, big eyes and a sunny smile.

In the first letter, "This woman went through the trouble of writing intensely personal things about her love, devotion and desire to spend the rest of her life with this man,"Murotake said. "His response was that she should try to live as normal a life as possible while he was away."

Nolde's next letter announced that she planned to attend a dance. McElholm was not happy, but appreciated her honesty.

In a final letter, Nolde wrote: "I guess you'd have been better off if I had never told you."

"I just had to find out how the story ended,"Murotake said.

In 2002, he began searching the internet and discovered that McElholm was killed in action in Korea on Sept. 5, 1952. He was 21.

An article about McElholm's wallet was published in a Bellingham newspaper.

"I got e-mail from people who knew this woman,"Murotake said. "Turns out she later married. But a framed photograph of Patrick held a prominent place on her mantelpiece until she died in 1992."

Robert Morning of Rialto, California, thought it was a case of mistaken identity when Murotake called to say he wanted to return remnants of a wallet apparently stolen here 48 years ago.

Then Murotake came knocking on a recent Sunday with a driver's license stating Morning's age as 16 and his hometown as "Hollydale, Calif.,"a mailing address in a southeastern Los Angeles suburb that no longer exists.

"Yeah, that's me,"said Morning, 64, sorting through mementos accumulated when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. "This is bringing back a lot of memories."

Except one: How did his wallet end up at Camp Roberts?

"I've never been to Camp Roberts,"he insisted, "and I have no idea how my wallet got there."

Morning, who breathes with the help of an oxygen tank and copes with the lingering effects of a mild stroke, lifted the returned items, one by one.

He used to complain that he had nothing interesting to say to his four grown children, but now he has a lot to talk about.

"This has been a real boost for Bob,"said Morning's wife, Maxine, trying not to cry. "It's as though a piece of time has come back to greet him again with memories of the old days, and better times."



From The Charlotte Observer, submitted by David M. Wolan, Charlotte, NC.



FROZEN BODY MIGHT BE WWII AIRMAN

Two climbers on a Sierra Nevada glacier discovered an ice-encased body believed to be that of an airman whose plane crashed in 1942.

The man was wearing a World War II-era Army-issued parachute when his frozen head, shoulder and arm were spotted recently on 13,710-foot Mt. Mendel in Kings Canyon National Park, park spokeswoman Alex Picavet said.

Park rangers and specialists camped on the remote mountainside in freezing weather for an excavation expected to take several days. The body was 80 percent encased in ice, Picavet said recently.

"We're not going to go fast,"she said. "We want to preserve him as much as possible. He's pretty intact."

The excavation crew included an expert from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, a military unit that identifies and recovers missing personnel.

Park officials said they believe the serviceman may have been part of the crew of an AT-7 navigational training plane that crashed on November 18, 1942. A climber found the wreckage and four bodies in 1947.

About 88,000 Americans are missing in action from past wars, military officers said- 78,000 of them from World War II.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command works on hundreds of cases a year, averaging two identifications a week, said spokeswoman Rumi Nielson-Green.

Finding bodies preserved in a glacier is unusual but not unheard of, said command officials. Two years ago, the unit recovered the body of a Cold War-era officer who died in Greenland.

From the Chicago Tribune, submitted by David Wolan, Charlotte, NC, and many other readers.























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