It was 7:00 a.m. on May 30, 1955, Decoration Day— or Memorial Day as the federal holiday was becoming known—in honor of soldiers who had died while serving in the nation’s armed forces. Recently mustered-out Korean War veteran Captain Silas A. McGuiness was smartly crossing through the parking area of his campsite alongside Oak Creek in the Coconino National Forest of central Arizona. His large officer command tent, which was set up at the back of the site and under the shade of tall oak trees, was proudly decorated with a U.S. flag hanging from the left flap of the tent’s entrance. His olive-drab U.S. Army M35 two-and-a-half-ton 6x6 cargo truck—with a big white star on either of the cab doors—was parked to the right of the tent.
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