A wonderful friend of mine, and a lot of history, has left this land he loved so much for a special place, on what I figure is a “Big Ranch in the Sky.” Darwin Lamb, the last of the iconic family that included Senator Floyd Lamb, and Sheriff Ralph Lamb, passed away the other day at his ranch in Cedar City, Utah. I first met Darwin (83) in 1967 when I was working for the Mint Hotel as its public relations director. At that time he was a member of the Clark County Commission, and I was working on an idea I had for an off-road race. I knew he was a cowboy and that he probably would be the “Go-to-Guy” to help me, should I need permits for the race, etc. Oh, the name of the race? “The Del Webb Mint 400 Off-Road Rally.”
After sending off two guys and a news photographer to race from Las Vegas to Lake Tahoe (our sister hotel the Sahara Tahoe) in 1967, and getting all kinds of national publicity for the stunt, I talked to Darwin in the coffee shop of the hotel one day. He loved the idea of making it a real race with a bunch of jeeps and dune buggies competing. Everyone that knows anything about off-road racing knows the rest of that story—it’s one of the biggest and most important races of its kind in the world to this day. The big thing was he would help push it through, and he wanted to race in it!
After Bill Bennett, General Manager of the Mint Hotel, approved of the idea, I sat up a meeting with Darwin. The date of the race was set for April, 1968. Darwin suggested we go talk to the owner of the local American Motors dealership, Herb Biddulph, where they sold the good old World War II Jeep. Darwin called and sat up a meeting. After about 30 minutes Lamb had convinced the owner to LOAN him a new jeep so he could race in the Mint 400, and to provide some AMC cars as official vehicles for the race. Darwin had a roll-bar built on the Jeep and some other alterations to prepare it for the race. I had a red jeep loaned to me which I used to get around town and to help publicize the race. Of course, Herb had no idea what an off-road race could do to a Jeep, or what Darwin was doing to it. The race was a huge success, and Darwin, who crashed a couple of times, had to return the jeep to the dealership. Needless to say it was pretty much destroyed. But, Darwin was so proud of the fact that he went further than Indy 500 champion Parnelli Jones, who destroyed his Bronco. I think it was eventually sold as junk.
Over the years we would get together for various events, or just to sit down and enjoy telling stories over a glass of booze at his ranch like restaurant out on the edge of town. Clark Bingham, who at the time was married to one of the Lamb daughters, and I, had formed an off-road racing team. We had a Class one unlimited race buggy built to compete in, not only the Mint 400, but the famous Baja races. The Lambs had an annual tradition of rounding up wild Mustang Horses on a range outside of Alamo, where the Lamb ranch was located, and where the Lamb family was raised. It was a working ranch too. Clark convinced Darwin to go to his brothers and ask if we could bring one of our dune buggies to the round-up. “We could outrun the horses and bring them across the valley quicker and deliver the herd to the wranglers on their horses, and they would finish up the job with fresh horses,” was how Bingham sold the idea. Permission was granted. But Ralph Lamb remained skeptical of course. We eventually proved to the Sheriff that it was a good idea. That was the plan. It worked for a while, but we did end up getting a couple flat tires, then we crashed in a hidden gully, and by the time nightfall approached Clark and I were beat. It was more work than racing in the Mint 400. Every night Ralph would have a truck deliver a catered dinner for the group. We sat around a campfire and I listened to some of the wildest stories I had ever heard. We did this for a couple of years. For a kid from the City to participate in something like a round-up, and to hear those stories, was a very special treat. And now those stories are gone forever.
The last time I talked to Darwin was just after his brother, Ralph, was buried. We said we would get together for a dinner soon. I was planning on going to Utah next month. Now I only have some wonderful memories of a great guy, who lived the life of a cowboy and did it good! He is survived by his beautiful wife, Mavourneen, and children Tommy, Ocey, Marion, and a number of grand-kids. Farewell old friend. Have a great ride. April 20, 1932 – January 24, 2016
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“VETERANS: A Motion Picture,” a documentary produced by award-winning journalist and Army Vietnam veteran Chuck N. Baker, has been released to help dispel news stories and editorial opinions that he says often tends to paint all veterans as having PTSD and other mental and emotional problems.
“Too many veterans have not received their fair share of positive media coverage,” Baker said. “I have produced a documentary film that illustrates in brief interviews and vignettes how most American veterans return from military life and become positive citizens. Overwhelming media depictions of soldiers who come home and who can’t adjust to civilian life is just plain wrong, and is an insult to the veterans community as well as to the active-duty military.”
“I had a small budget and wrote and produced the entire documentary as a labor of love,” Baker added. “Now that it’s out, I’d like to see a top actor — Nicolas Cage comes to mind — initiate a major production on the subject.” Baker added that Cage has truly been one of his favorite actors who has appeared in numerous military-related films. “I think this would be an excellent opportunity for him to use his talent to help the veteran’s community.” (Baker has recently written to Cage and his representatives have agreed to formally present the idea.)
Baker points out that he in no way “seeks to denigrate those individuals who in fact do suffer from ailments due to their military experiences. They have served honorably and proudly in defense of their nation, and they deserve full credit and gratitude from the government and the public. But for too long, many veterans have not received their fair share of positive media coverage, and I hope to help turn that dialogue around with this documentary.” By interviewing men and women from different services who served at different times, he has woven into a single narrative a DVD that illustrates how veterans return to civilian life and successfully lead productive, fulfilling lives. Many of the interviews were culled from Baker’s recent veteran’s television show, while some interviews were done especially for the DVD. Those stories are combined with archival footage, government promotional film and statements from veteran’s service organizations. “This film puts the lie to a general media perception of large numbers of disturbed veterans returning from service and not contributing to society in a meaningful way,” Baker said.
A long-time journalist, author and filmmaker, some vintage scenes used in the production were shot by Baker as far back as the 1960s when he was a young teenager. Those B&W shots were produced with a silent 8 mm camera. “I was working for the Chicago Tribune as a copy boy. So I was able to attend news events and shoot some film at the time of some famous politicians who happened to have been veterans,” Baker said. “I didn’t know then that I would use the footage far into the future or that I would serve in combat myself a few short years later.” Those vintage political scenes are artfully woven between the current footage he produced. And as credits roll at the end of the film, there is actual brief footage of Baker, then an Army soldier, walking in the streets of Saigon in 1965. Baker is a veteran of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, “The Big Red One.” He received a Purple Heart after being severely wounded in Vietnam.
Baker has worked for several newspapers, television stations and radio outlets. He is the founder and former managing editor of the Veterans Reporter newspaper, and was the producer and host of Nevada’s former television show “The Veterans Reporter-Chuck N. Baker Reporting.” He is currently the producer and host of a Las Vegas radio show. The DVD is currently available at WWW.VETERANSREPORTER.COM. “VETERANS: A Motion Picture,” is offered for $19.95.