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Site Of Vietnam Protest, Commerce Burns

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The Last Firebase was a site of protest and commerce for a group of Vietnam vets. They vowed to stay until all POWs were accounted for and sold knicknacks and memorabilia in the meantime.
Sabri Ben-Achour
The Last Firebase was a site of protest and commerce for a group of Vietnam vets. They vowed to stay until all POWs were accounted for and sold knicknacks and memorabilia in the meantime.

A late night fire destroyed the POW-MIA kiosk that sat between the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. The kiosk was manned by Vietnam veterans around the clock for the past 30 years.

It's now a burnt-out skeleton of a structure. Old signs and charred propane tanks are cordoned off by security tape. The little shack that once stood at the spot started as a site of protest by Vietnam veterans.

It's been criticized as an eyesore and protected under free speech.

"They would have memorabilia tell the story of Vietnam vets. They vowed to remain here -- I believe it was called the 'Last Firebase' -- until the story of all the prisoners of wars was finally known," says Tim Krepp, an independent tour guide.

Krepp came down to take a look as soon as he heard about the fire.

"At one point, there were six or seven of them selling t-shirts. That was stopped by the National Park Service back in the mid-90s," he says.

The vets sued and lost, though they were able to continue selling knickknacks and souvenirs.

"Most of them closed up shop and went home, but this [one] guy stuck around for a while until last night," Krepp says.

D.C. Fire and EMS say the fire appears to have been set accidentally.

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