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DMV hands out first 12 ‘Fallen Veteran’ license plates

CARSON CITY — Jeff Evans walked into the Department of Motor Vehicles office today carrying the faded papers in which the Army notified his mother that his father had been killed in an airplane crash in Vietnam in 1970.

He left with “Fallen Veteran” license plate No. 7.

In a ceremony led by Gov. Jim Gibbons, family members of 12 service members who died in American wars were given the first of the new fallen veteran license plates.

“It will give me a chance to talk about my father and his sacrifice,” said Evans, a coach and athletic director at Douglas High School in Minden. “I want to honor him.”

Looking at a wall covered by the dozens of license plates manufactured by the DMV, Gibbons said he cannot understand why it took so long for Nevada to make fallen veteran plates.

“This is long overdue,” said the governor, who served in the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm.

During the 2009 session, the Legislature unanimously approved Senate Bill 139 that authorized the DMV to manufacture the fallen veteran license plates. The bill initially was proposed by state Sen. Joe Heck, R-Henderson, but after his defeat it was introduced by state Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas.

Under the law, parents, step-parents, grandparents and siblings of any service member killed in any war may secure the license plates. They must pay the normal registration fees for their vehicle, plus an extra $1 to cover the manufacturing costs.

According to Review-Journal records, 66 service members with Nevada backgrounds have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But DMV Director Edgar Roberts said his agency has no idea how many plates will be purchased since they will be given to families of people killed in any American war, not just the war on terrorism.

“We can never repay someone for their loss, but we can honor them with these plates,” Roberts said.

His own brother-in-law was killed in Afghanistan so his wife will be purchasing one of the special plates.

People who receive the plates must show the DMV some kind of proof that they are related to a fallen veteran.

Twelve of the new plates were awarded today during the ceremony. Most of the family members attending were members of the Gold Star Families organization.

Plates are available at DMV offices statewide.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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