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thedrifter
05-05-09, 09:01 AM
Published: May 04, 2009 10:12 pm

Ollie North visit set for May 23 in Beckley
Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

Patriotic emotions could hit a fever pitch Memorial Day weekend in Beckley in a speech delivered by Marine Lt. Col. Ollie North, one of America’s better known military profiles, given his highly decorated Vietnam War service and work as a Fox News commentator on the war against terrorism.

North is to appear at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 23, at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center in a visit arranged by Faith Baptist Church of Beckley.

“It’s really, with Memorial Day, sort of a patriotic celebration of America,” Kevin Traube, a member of the Faith Baptist committee, explained Monday.

North was chosen because of his lengthy service with the Marines and his broadcast work with Fox, where he has unearthed the human angle by exploring stories that chronicle bravery, courage and service, Traube said.

“It is just a celebration and appreciation of all those who have been in the armed forces,” he said.

“Most churches would be very pro our country and just appreciate the freedoms that we have and seeing the military as a part of what brings us those freedoms.”

Since the initial story broke in early February about the colonel’s visit, Traube said the church has received an outpouring of favorable responses.

“We’ve had calls from out of state about it, which kind of boggles my mind,” he said.

North certainly isn’t without controversy.

During the Reagan administration, he became mired in the Iran-Contra Affair, a scandal that placed North in the midst of channeling arms to Iranian intermediaries, with proceeds going to the Contras in Nicaragua, embroiled in a struggle against Sandinistas who were attempting to turn the nation into a Communist state, patterned after the mold set decades earlier in Cuba.

North assumed responsibility for his role but many at the time insisted the Marine was merely the “fall guy” who had to be removed since he was an embarrassment to the administration.

For his conviction in three of 16 felony counts, North was put on probation two years, fined $150,000, and ordered to serve 1,200 hours of community service. But within two years of the 1988 case, the convictions were overturned.

A platoon leader during the Korean War, North toted home a handful of decorations — two Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, and a Bronze Star.

His impending Beckley appearance was arranged largely through a church member, Chuck Holton, an eight-year member of Army Rangers who served in both Panama and Desert Storm.

More importantly, Holton teamed with North to produce a book titled “American Heroes in the Fight Against Radical Islam,” and currently the two are laboring on the second of the four-part series, that installment dealing with the Vietnam War.

Tickets for the event go for $10 in advance at Christian Bookstore, Mountaineer State Miniature Golf, Raleigh Tile and Marble, and By His Grace Book Shoppe. At the door, tickets cost $12.

“We’re plugging away at this thing and it seems to be coming together,” Traube added.

— E-mail:

mannix@register-herald.com

Ellie