Patrick Lines will mark Veterans Day like he usually does - he'll pop open a beer and spend about an hour remembering an old friend.

"At least for an hour I'll concentrate and remember as much as I can about Frank Rhoades," he said. "I want my memory to stay fresh with me."

Frank Moss Rhoades - known as Moss - was a high school friend of Lines who grew up with him in the suburbs of Puget Sound. They were drafted together into the U.S. Army in 1965 then fought in Vietnam in 1966.

Lines came home alive; Rhoades did not.

Fighting in central Vietnam near the city of Pleiku, south of Da Nang and near the border with Cambodia, Lines served on a mortar team with the 4th Infantry Division. Rhoades was in a different unit of the same division fighting a mile away when he stepped on a land mine and was killed.

"His body went home and I wasn't there to attend the funeral," 56-year-old Lines said.

It's the memory of his friend, lost in combat, and the constant need to honor him, which Lines said makes up a large part of his life. "When I get up in the morning and go to work I do it because Frank Rhoades can't," he said.

That one friend is the symbol of everything Lines lost in Vietnam, and Rhoades' sacrifice is what Lines, who now works at Fort Stevens State Park, believes makes today meaningful.

"When I think about Veterans Day, I think about Frank Rhoades," he said. "He embodies everything we should think about."

But millions of others fought for this nation, and Lines is glad that Veterans Day can serve a valuable purpose for those who fought and died.

"I really appreciate the day and observance," he said adding people should take the time today to say "thank you" to a veteran for his or her service.

With the threat of another war looming on the horizon, Lines said he understands that more Americans will be called, but said their sacrifice is worth it. "If there is a real threat to the U.S. ... young men and women are going to have to step up and sacrifice," he said.

But if those young people do serve, Lines said it is important that the government treat them with dignity and respect. He said in World War I, troops were gassed and in World War II they were used in atomic experiments. Vietnam vets are still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange.

"My biggest concern is if the sons and daughters of America have to go, the government will take care of them," he said.

Following his service in the Army, Lines said he worked as a seasonal employee with Oregon State Parks before becoming a full-time employee about 20 years ago. For nearly all of those 20 years, Lines said he has worked at Fort Stevens State Park.

Lines, who is divorced, lives outside of Seaside and enjoys mountain biking, working on music amplifiers and playing a "big Chicago blues harmonica."

In honor of Veterans Day, Fort Stevens State Park is hosting members of the 2nd U.S. Artillery who will be conducting re-enactments and firing cannons. The Daughters of the American Revolution is also holding a flag retirement ceremony.

- Andrew Adams


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