Summer 2021 Taos, New Mexico Episode 1: Angel Fire and Vietnam Veterans Memorial

On July 9, 2021, the two-hour drive from Santa Fe to Taos made for an easy moving day. Taos Canyon Stop RV Park was our second choice for staying near Taos. Yet it turned out to be one of our all-time favorites. The wildflowers outside our back window were a surprise, and we treasured the quiet after our stay in Santa Fe.

Orange and yellow daisy
Lavender trumpets
Red lipstick
Papery petals

Terraced lots with brick retainer walls gave us the feeling of having our separate space while encouraging conversation with our neighbors. The drawback was the lack of cell service or usable Wi-Fi, although lack of connectivity has its benefits. An online break now and then can be a good thing.

Jon sets up our campsite
Purple and yellow wildflowers blanketed the Angel Fire valley

Angel Fire Resort

In search of decent Wi-Fi, we drove up to Angel Fire, a ski resort area in the winter and a mountain bike trail during the summer. Horseback riding, hiking trails, and a golf course are other amenities available.

Angel Fire Resort lobby

We drank our decaf mochas and caught up on internet stuff in the lobby area outside of the coffee shop. The cozy-cabin décor looked comfy and instead of typing away on my keyboard, I would have preferred curling up on the sofa, reading a book.

Wi-Fi was best in the lobby area

For a ski resort, Angel Fire, incorporated in 1986, is more low-key than other such resorts we’ve visited. This could be due to the village’s population of around 1,000 people. Participation in sports activities seems more important than shopping, although there are a few sports gear and other types of stores. With the hotel and plenty of condos near the ski area for accommodations, the resort’s popularity is clear. The Village of Angel Fire is 28.84 sq mi (74.68 km2) and encompasses the entire Angel Fire Ski Resort.

Indoor Jacuzzi at Angel Fire Resort

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Angel Fire is also home to one of the best Vietnam Veterans Memorials we have seen where visitors will find a chapel, visitor center and gift shop, and an adjacent cemetery.

According to the memorial’s website, the David Westphall Veterans Foundation honors, “America’s veterans and members of its military forces by memorializing the sacrifices they have made and by recognizing the sense of duty and the courage they have displayed as they answered their country’s call to arms.”

Foundation partnerships with the National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center in Angel Fire and the Village of Angel Fire provide free retreats for veterans and their spouses diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Doug Scott’s Dear Mom & Dad

Dr. Victor and Jeanne Westphall conceived the memorial to honor their son, 1st Lt. David Westphall, who died in combat during a 1968 ambush in Vietnam. Constructed between 1968 and 1971, the memorial was the first major Vietnam memorial in the United States and recognized by congress in 1987 as a Memorial of National Significance.

The A/C 670 Huey helicopter, known as the Viking Surprise, served with 121st Assault Helicopter Company (AHC). Damaged, repaired, and reassigned to the 118th AHC. New Mexico National Guard donated it to memorial grounds in 1999. Restored in 2016-17.

Inside the visitor center, we found a walled-off corner where the HBO movie, Dear America: Letters from Vietnam, was playing. We settled into chairs and watched for a few minutes. Then I understood why someone had strategically placed tissue boxes nearby. When our emotions ran high, we left. Better to watch in the privacy of our home.

Senator John McCain is featured in the photo on the bottom left.
Remember A-F-L-Q-V
Lakota Nation-Oglala Sioux Tribe Display
Displays in the visitor center
Helicopter display
New Mexico and Marine Corps displays
Jon served in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam during 1969-70

The US Military Aluminum Mermite Hot/Cold Insulated Food Container shown in the photo below brings back memories from 50 years ago for Jon. The days when the helicopters arrived in the field lifted his spirits. Along with fuel and ammo for the armored vehicles, the choppers also brought hot meals in the Mermites for the soldiers.

Mermite, also known as Hot Boxes

After looking at all the photographs and memorabilia inside, I felt the same sorrow, solemnity, and peace I experienced during our visit to the USS Arizona Pearl Harbor Memorial in Oahu several years ago. The thought of all the lives cut short and the families and friends that mourned for their loved ones became oppressive, sending me outside to wander among the trees and flowers and bushes.

State Veteran Cemetery Angel Fire, New Mexico

The State Veteran Cemetery is a recent addition to the memorial and held its first interment on July 2021.

View of cemetery and valley
Recent gravesites
Roundabout and flags

Coming up in future episodes, we explore Downtown Taos Historic District, Red River ski area, Kit Carson Home & Museum, Earthship Biotecture, and much more.

Safe Travels

2 thoughts on “Summer 2021 Taos, New Mexico Episode 1: Angel Fire and Vietnam Veterans Memorial

  1. Thank you for the tour of this memorial. It looks beautiful and calming. While it makes one sad to visit, it is rightly so, and it is important to honor those who sacrificed. On a lighter note, it’s so nice when your second choice turns out to be a favorite. I look forward to your next post and learning about what you visited. Enjoy your day!


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