Sunday, February 8, 2004

Effort to name highway
for Ky. hero of Vietnam

By Kimberly Hefling
The Associated Press

Stella Nash
Stella Nash, 78, holds a picture of her son, David P. Nash, at her home in Whitesville, Ky.
(Daniel R. Patmore/The Associated Press)
WHITESVILLE, Ky. - Highway 54 took Pfc. David "Paulie" Nash to Vietnam. It did not bring him back.

An Army chaplain instead traveled the two-lane road through western Kentucky's tobacco fields to deliver the news of Nash's death. The 20-year-old had rolled onto an exploding grenade, sacrificing his life to save three comrades.

That act of bravery posthumously earned him the Medal of Honor - but haunted those with him in Dinh Tuong that night in 1968.

"This is not Hollywood. This guy did this. It stays with you. It stays all your life," said Ken Bryant, Nash's bunkmate, who heard the explosion from afar.

Now, Highway 54 could lead to healing for some of those men who knew Nash during his two months in Vietnam.

An effort is under way to name a 15-mile stretch of Highway 54 from Owensboro to Whitesville in honor of Nash, a former Roman Catholic altar boy who loved cars and worked at a local filling station. Legislation seeking to do so is pending in Kentucky's General Assembly. If it passes, men in his unit would be invited to a dedication in May.

Nash's mother, Stella Nash, 78, still lives in the house on Highway 54 where she raised Paulie and seven other children. She and others in the family are surprised by the effort to name the road, and are pleased at the prospect - especially of meeting the men from Nash's unit.

The effort was initiated by two Vietnam veterans, Larry and Wayne Rhodes, who are cousins who went to the same grade school as Nash in Whitesville. They felt people needed to hear Nash's story.

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