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From Vietnam to Kentucky Derby dreamer: Remarkable life shapes Gary West

From Vietnam to Kentucky Derby dreamer: Remarkable life shapes Gary West

What did he just hear? Did that scratchy voice on the car radio really blurt out The 172nd Transportation Company? Deployed … to Vietnam? That was his Army reserve unit, which seemed quietly tucked away in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

When 20-something Gary West finally arrived to his job at the Armour & Co. meat-packing plant in neighboring Omaha, Neb., in January 1968, his mind a muddled mess, he beelined to the nearest telephone.

“I wanted to get the full story before I got too excited about anything,” said West, 73, a founder with wife, Mary, of a telecommunications empire that made them billionaires and owner of one of the favorites for this year’s Kentucky Derby,...

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