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The 2017 Veterans Meteorite Hunt

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On the last weekend of April 2017, a small group of U.S. military veterans gathered in the Mojave Desert near Pahrump Nevada to take part in a “group meteorite hunt”. This was an open-invitation to all veterans, whether they had any experience at searching for meteorites, or not. The purpose of this gathering was to have a social function where veterans could meet and share in the experience of meteorite-hunting in the desert. This retreat was the brain-child of Jim Wooddell, and he had no trouble pitching the idea to the Granger Legacy, a veterans support group. He extended invitiations to all veterans for his “meet-up” over the Internet through email and facebook. Readers may remember his March 27th post to the Meteorite-List:

[meteorite-list] Veterans Meteorite Hunt Happening!!!

Jim Wooddell via Meteorite-list <meteorite-list@meteoritecentral.com>

To: Meteorite-list@meteoritecentral.com Date: Mar 27 at 11:15 AM

Hi Folks!

I hope this message goes through!

Together with Granger Legacy, I am putting on a Veteran’s Meteorite Hunt
On April 29th exclusively for Veterans of any of the 5 armed services.
There will be expert meteorite hunters to help guide Veterans during the
hunt to help insure their best chance of finding a meteorite.
All veterans are welcome. A camp out and BBQ are happening, and the
BBQ is no charge to the Veterans.
Breakfast is being served at no charge as well. PLEASE RSVP for head count.
The hunt will be near Pahrump, NV. Some of the Vets are staying at the
Saddle West Hotel in Pahrump rather than camping. If you are a Veteran
and are interested, please join the Facebook Group or contact me direct
to sign up. https://www.facebook.com/groups/156274051559087/

V/R,
Jim Wooddell

As Jim stated above, he was teaming-up with “Granger Legacy” to host this Veterans Meteorite Hunt. For those of you who are not familiar with this non-profit, here is their simply-stated mission statement copied from their website:

Our Mission:

Granger Legacy’s mission is to serve and support our nation’s Veterans, their families, and community with a specific focus on the effort to wipe out the stain of 22+ Veteran suicides every day. [1]

The Granger Legacy’s point-of-contact for this veterans group meteorite-hunt is James “Poppy” Wharton. Here is what the Granger Legacy website had to say about “Poppy”:

James Wharton is the Director of Granger Legacy, an organization founded to carry on the legacy of his late son in law, Army Ranger Jason Granger after he intervened in the suicide attempt of a Ranger buddy and pointed him in a direction of healing and purpose. That Ranger buddy has in turned pulled brothers from the fire and is continuing the mission and living the Creed. We will do everything we can to support him and all Veterans and their families to combat PTS(d), the stigma, and advocate wherever we can beginning with Granger Outpost, an Equine Assisted Therapy ranch in Southern California. We are “For The Warrior, For The Wounded, and For The Widow” as Jason’s tattoo abbreviated “FTW!”

Some of the attendees

Inside the campsite: from left to right – James “Poppy” Wharton, Bob Verish, Jim Wooddell, Wendy Wooddell. Image taken by Monika Waiblinger (2017).

The Granger Legacy - Some of the attendees

Here are some of the attendees sitting around the campfire (from left to right): — David Rodgers, Connie Cejmer., Moni Waiblinger, Bob Verish, Sonia Dunkinson, Wendy Wooddell, Jim Wooddell — Image taken by James Wharton (2017).

The Granger Legacy

After he cooked-up a wonderful breakfast for all of us, Poppy handed-out to each of the veterans one of these “medallions”. Photo courtesy of James Wharton (2017).

Veterans Meteorite Hunt — by “libuszowski”
— a “drone video” by Dave Libuszowski (with well-edited background music).
Published on May 4, 2017
“On April 29, 2017 Poppy Wharton from Granger Legacy, and Jim Wooddell put on a Veterans Meteorite Hunt at Stewart Dry Lake.
This video is a flyby at Base Camp. The winds were real heavy that day, so it was hard to control the drone at times…”

Poppy's first meteorite

Here, on the end of a magnet-stick, is Poppy’s first meteorite find — a fragment (paired to StV 001) from the H6 chondrite that fell in Stewart Valley a long time ago. Image taken by James Wharton (2017).

H6 stone found in 2002

I brought this labeled meteorite to show the attendees, as an example, how chondritic stones weather on a drylake, and from where all of the little fragments are originating — an early-2002 find (paired to StV 001) from the H6 meteorite that fell over Stewart Valley a long time ago. Image taken by Jim Wooddell (2017).

Roy Miller's L6 find

This is known as a close-up “in-situ” image of a just found meteorite, a find made by Roy Miller. Only a small portion of this stone stuck-up above ground level, and it was colored black like the numerous non-magnetic stones (instead of the deep brownish color of the H6 fragments), so it was a good thing that Roy hit this stone with his magnet-stick just to double-check. Photo courtesy of Roy Miller (2017).

Roy Miller's L6 find

After cleaning, a close-up of the L6 stone found by Roy Miller(~1ounce). Now given the provisional number StV170429RoyM — it is visually-paired to StV 002/004/005/017/020 (L6). StV 002 was the first find of more than two dozen freshly fusion-crusted, mostly whole individual L6-chondrites, forming an overlapping strewn-field over the pre-existing H6 strewn-field. Contrary to an erroneous label (that has been widely-spread), there is no “L4” strewn-field in Stewart Valley DCA. Photo courtesy of Roy Miller (2017).

Some of the attendees

The Group Photo: from left to right – (starting with the left-most nose) Franny Wooddell (she was named after the Franconia Strewn Field — Her AKC name is “Franconia’s Little Fireball”), David Rodgers, Warren & Laurie Zwanka (from Florida), Cody Miller, James “Poppy” Wharton, Roy Miller, James Beauchamp (flew in from Oklahoma City), (Dolan) Dave Libuszowski, Wendy Wooddell, who is holding Jim Wooddell, who is holding Dozer Wooddell, Eric Rasmussen (his camera), and Ray Cornelius. Not Shown: Sonia Dunkinson (as well as, Sonia’s friend Connie Cejmer), and Moni Waiblinger & Bob Verish. Two Stewart Valley veterans, that were with us in spirit: the late Larry Sloan and John P. Wolfe. Image taken by Eric Rasmussen (2017).

paleolithic garbage dump

Here is Moni holding some debitage while standing in the middle of a vast gravel bar. Or, is it all just one gigantic, paleolithic garbage-dump? Photo courtesy of Bob Verish (2017).

Before heading back home, I took Moni over to the shoreline where there was a dense accumulation of siliceous gravel, (which other than quartzite) rarely occurs on this dry-lake. Most of the pebble-gravel were in the form of slivers of a wide variety of jaspers, rhyolite and other fine-grained volcano-clastic rock (which is a very rare rock for this valley, and which suggests that these rocks have been tranported). The shapes of these slivers strongly suggest that they have been “worked” by hand. The only reason that I don’t come flat-out and call this a paleo-tool-making site is because this debitage covers an area larger than two city blocks. Even more surprising is that we did not find one “arrowhead”, here. But then, this area is close to a road, and even closer to houses, so it shouldn’t be surprising that all of the “arrowheads” have already been hunted-out. We haven’t extensively searched the literature, but for now, we are convinced that this is a very well-known archeological site.

well-used kitchen utensils

A close-up of what Moni is holding in her hand (most likely debitage). Photo courtesy of Bob Verish (2017).

Hamburger Hill Hero

The author (Bob) examining up-close, either an artifact, or a potential meteorite. Photo courtesy of Moni Waiblinger (2017).

Granger Legacy posted 17 new photos on facebook, on 2017 April 30 at 6:28pm · Pahrump, NV · ….
Here is what Poppy wrote about the meet-up:

Our very first Veterans Meteorite Hunt was an amazing success! We were about 20 strong, counting Veterans and meteorite experts & enthusiasts.
I want to personally thank all who attended especially those that flew in from Oklahoma and as far away as Florida!
Jim and Wendy Woddell, thank you for the impetus, planning, organizing, supplying , logistics… Thank you for everything!
Tammie Wharton, your chili, potato salad, and help organizing and loading for the trip made it possible for me to be a part of an amazing weekend. Thank you.
Brianne Barr, the cupcakes were awesome! Thank you for working all that baking and frosting into your hectic schedule… Would not have been possible without your support.
Nature and comraderie have a way of rebooting you when other options fail.
One Army Veteran told me during the morning hunt that she had finally been able to sleep the entire night and felt great.
That, that right there, made it all worthwhile.
To those that continue to support us, thank you for making this possible.
Let’s keep on keeping on!
James “Poppy” Wharton

Presidential Unit Citation

These items are on my bookshelf above my desk.

It wasn’t until after we returned home, I realized that there was a misconception about my function at this outing. It appears that some had considered me as one of the “meteorite-experts” and that my invitation was courtesy of my having discovered this Dense Collection Area (DCA). The truth is, actually, I am a Vietnam Vet.[3] So, I was invested into this “outing for veterans”, a little more than just for the meteorites. It was my intent to, at the least, share the experience of camping in the desert for a couple days with my fellow veterans. I hope this article shows my appreciation and directs some attention towards the Granger Legacy and their efforts in combating the effects of PTS(d). [4]

Thank you, GL, and keep up the great job you are doing. And don’t forget, “I’ve got your 6”!


References:

[1] Granger Legacy, “War Is Hell. The Demons WILL Follow You Home!”

search results for Keywords: James “Poppy” Wharton

[2] Meteoritical Bulletin Database, search results for

Keywords: Stewart Valley

[3] The Crouching Beast: A United States Army Lieutenant’s Account of the Battle for Hamburger Hill, May 1969, by Frank Boccia

[4] Hamburger Hill: The Brutal Battle for Dong Ap Bia: May 11-20, 1969 by Samuel Zaffiri

External links:

Stewart Valley 001 from the Meteoritical Bulletin: the entry for “StV 001” – as Published in Meteoritical Society – Meteoritical Bulletin, Database:
Stewart Valley 001 (StV 001)
California, USA
Found: 2001 Feb 17
Classification: Ordinary chondrite (H6)

Physical characteristics: Type-specimen is from the 4th find (of more than 1000 fragments continually being found from this locality); a weathered-brown broken stone; a few finds are whole individuals with relatively fresh fusion crust (combined weight in excess of 24 kg). Some pieces can be reassembled into their original mass.

Stewart Valley 002 from the Meteoritical Bulletin: the entry for “StV 002” – as Published in Meteoritical Society – Meteoritical Bulletin, Database:
Stewart Valley 002 (StV 002)
California, USA
Found: 2001 Feb 17
Classification: Ordinary chondrite (L6)

Physical characteristics: Type specimen is from the 22nd find from this locality, but is the first of more than two dozen freshly fusion-crusted, mostly whole individual L6-chondritic stones, forming an overlapping strewn-field.


Veterans Meteorite Hunt — by “libuszowski”

— a “drone video” by Dave Libuszowski (with well-edited background music).

Published on May 4, 2017

“On April 29, 2017 Poppy Wharton from Granger Legacy, and Jim Wooddell put on a Veterans Meteorite Hunt at Stewart Dry Lake. This video is a flyby at Base Camp. The winds were real heavy that day, so it was hard to control the drone at times…”

The Granger Legacy

— a “streamed video” about The Granger Legacy by GallantFew, Inc.

Streamed live on Feb 10, 2015

“Jim Wharton is the Director of Granger Legacy, an organization founded to carry on the legacy of his late son in law,
Army Ranger Jason Granger after he intervened in the suicide attempt of a Ranger buddy and pointed him in a direction
of healing and purpose. That Ranger buddy has in turned pulled brothers from the fire and is continuing the mission and
living the Creed. We will do everything we can to support him and all Veterans and their families to combat PTS(d), the stigma,
and advocate wherever we can beginning with Granger Outpost, an Equine Assisted Therapy ranch in Southern California.
We are “For The Warrior, For The Wounded, and For The Widow” as Jason’s tattoo abbreviated “FTW!”


My previous Bob’s Findings can be found *HERE*

If you would like more information, then “Click” HERE.

bolidechaser at yahoo-dot-com

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About the Author

Bob is a retired aerospace engineer living in Southern California, and has been recovering meteorites from the Southwest U.S. Deserts since 1995.

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