LaTourette visits Honduras during break

By Sean Noble

NIU President John LaTourette spent his spring break in a truly “hot spot”—Honduras, where U.S. troops were sent last week in response to a Nicaraguan incursion there.

LaTourette said he and his wife, Lili, joined a group of 20 people visiting the site of an archaeological find in Copan, Honduras.

He said the group included William Fash, NIU assistant anthropology professor and director of excavations at the Copan site.

LaTourette’s group left for Honduras on March 13, four days before President Ronald Reagan sent 3,200 American troops in an “emergency deployment” mission to Honduras.

LaTourette said, “Our group was 300 miles or more from where all the action was taking place. We were in the northwest part of Honduras, and the action was along the southern border.” He said the group was in no danger during its trip.

LaTourette said there were no real “media” in Copan to keep his group informed at all times of the military movements farther south.

The only frightening occurrence during the trip came when some Honduran natives opened their “fiesta week” with “a fireworks display including huge bottle rockets” at 3:30 a.m. on March 16, LaTourette said.

The site visited by the group is that of a “major city of about 17,000 people that reached its zenith in about 800 A.D.,” LaTourette said.

He said Fash is directing the excavation of some mounds which were once Mayan pyramids.

Orville Jones, assistant dean of NIU’s International and Special Programs Office and one organizer of the trip, said Fash, who has taught at NIU since 1984, has taken groups of students to visit the excavations every summer since his arrival at NIU.

LaTourette said, “A benefit of being on this trip was that we were there with the experts who could explain the ruins to us. We could observe them at work.

“Dr. Fash is now in a position, at his young age of 33, to become one of the leading archaeologists in the world,” he said.

LaTourette said his group returned March 20 from Honduras.