In the Rearview

A decorated Marine returns home, big gun used to spark avalanche and Panthers pounce on the Tigers in hoops


- 50 years ago - 'Taos Pueblo marine returns home', Jan. 11, 1968

Marine Staff Sgt. Harry R. Lefthand was on one of his many patrols in Vietnam when his group came under fire. Wounded, the Marine from Taos Pueblo, still managed to help retrieve two fallen fellow Marines with "calm professional skill and selfless disregard for his own safety," according to a commendation for Lefthand. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his actions that day. He received the Bronze Star from Major General Robert E. Cushman Jr., base commander of Camp Pendleton in California. He later received a Gold Star for "meritorious service" in lieu of a second Bronze Star, according to media accounts.

Lefthand served with the Third Marine Division. He is section leader of Rocket Section, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. In 1965, he spent Christmas and New Year's Day in the South China Sea and Thanksgiving in Vietnam.

Lefthand was a career Marine who went on to serve as a drill instructor at Camp Pendleton. Lefthand was the son of Santanita Lefthand and attended Santa Fe Indian School before enlisting in the Marine Corps. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam.

He retired in 1974 after nearly 20 years with the Marines and returned to Taos.

- 25 years ago - 'Wet, have snowfall measures out, guns roaring', By Mike Sauffer, Jan. 14, 1993

"If you think this winter's snowfall has been a little wetter than usual, you're right." Those must of been nice words to hear at this point in January a quarter-century ago.

Danny Ruiz of the Soil and Conservation Service office in Taos reported that 57.6 inches of snow was recorded at the Taos Powerderhorn snow course (gauging station) in Taos Ski Valley. After measuring the moisture content, Ruiz worked out that 15.4 inches of water was waiting to melt into the ríos, streams and acequias: good news for farmers as much as for skiers.

It seems people keep their eyes on measurements of water and snowpack as much as they do the lottery, so even little differences matter. In 1993, the water content in the TSV snow was up 28 percent over the average of the previous four years and up 23 percent over the longer-term average.

"It's definitely up for this time of year," Ruiz said. "And what with the recent rains we've had at the higher elevations this year, I think our upcoming reading will also be higher."

The heavy and wet snow forced the ski valley to up the ante on avalanche protections.

Folks from the Carson National Forest "gunnery crew" fired 19 highly-explosive shells, weighing 66 pounds each, from a permanently placed 105 mm recoilless rifle into snow-laden slopes high above the ski valley. The explosions caused controlled slides.

Oh, and about that snowpack: as of deadline, there was about 2 inches of snow at the Taos Powderhorn station.

- 10 years ago - 'Panthers take razor-thin homecoming victory in local hoops showdown', By Gabe Toth, Jan. 10-16, 2008

Basketball is revered with near-religious adoration in Northern New Mexico. And no game is more of a rite than homecoming.

The homecoming game a decade ago between two local rivals -- the Peñasco Panthers and Taos Tigers -- was dramatic and down-to-the-wire. It "see-sawed back and forth" through the first half hour of play. The Tigers gnashed their teeth and took first blood after only 2 1/2 minutes into the game. Even still, the Panthers ended the first quarter in the lead.

The Tigers outscored Peñasco Valley in the next two quarters. "We had breakdowns defensively. [Taos] got some turnovers and made their baskets," said Panthers coach Clarence Vigil.

But it wasn't over.

The Panthers pushed back in the last quarter, outscoring the Tigers 20-9 as they caught up and took the lead, closing out the game with a 61-59 win for Peñasco.

Jono Gurulé was the leader in points. He picked up 19 and Armando Feliz followed behind him, scoring 13 points.


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