Carlisle Reheard doesn't remember a lot details the day Gary Gemoets appeared at her front door on Feb. 14, 1958, wearing a suit and clutching a huge Valentine's Day.
She was a shy 6-year-old and found it disconcerting being the center of attention with a photographer on hand to capture the moment for a front page photo for the Wind & Sand newspaper at White Sands Proving Ground.
But 60 years later, Reheard still has vivid and fond memories of the two years she spent at White Sands as the daughter of retired Army Col. James Gober who was serving in 1958 as an Army project officer for the Lacrosse short-range guided missile project.
"I loved living at White Sands. It was one of my favorite places to live of all time," said Reheard, who now lives in Lancaster, Pa., where she works as a dental assistant. "As a child, it was just fascinating to me. I remember loving the desert, the vegetation and the creatures," she said, laughingly added that even the snakes didn't daunt her.
Although she could be the shy girly girl at times, Reheard said she was just as happy mixing it up with boys such as her neighbor Gary who could not be located to share his Valentine's Day memory on that day in 1958.
Reheard said her family history at White Sands even includes her grandfather who was also stationed at White Sands during his military career. After her father's tour at White Sands with the Marine Corps, he later received an interservice transfer to the Army. His military service included combat tours in Korea and Vietnam where he received the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation for action during the 1972 Easter Offensive.
"He gave honor to his career in the military," said Reheard, who said her father, however, rarely spoke about his military service. Reheard said she still holds those who serve their country in high regard.
"Military people are very special," she said, noting that servicemembers live by a certain code and way of thinking. "I can spot someone in the military a mile away."
Reheard has not had the opportunity to revisit White Sands and see where she lived in base housing, but her time at White Sands and the southwest will always remain a special time in her life, and she has often shared the photo of her receiving the Valentine's Day card with her children and grandchildren. She hopes to return one day.
"There's nothing like it. You can't describe it."