Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wounded Marine Gets Gift from the Past

Lost dog tag returned…
by Robert A. Waters

On June 4, 1968, Lanny Martinson, a 23-year-old Marine from Two Harbors, Minnesota, found himself in the thick of war.  At Khe Sanh, in Vietnam, an enemy land-mine exploded underneath him.  Six fellow-marines died, and Platoon Sgt. Martinson’s leg was blown off.  During the chaos and confusion of his evacuation to a medical facility, Martinson lost his dog tags.

The San Diego Union-Tribune explained that “like a lot of Marines in Vietnam, Martinson wore one dog tag around his neck and the other laced into a boot because the awful truth is that sometimes the killing didn’t leave bodies intact.  Tags in different places improved the odds for a successful identification.”  Martinson’s were likely discarded by medics during treatment.

For 45 years, the dog tags remained lost.

Then, two years ago, an Australian teacher named John Naesmith discovered one of the dog tags near an overgrown air strip in Vietnam.  He checked several online sites in an attempt to locate Martinson, but failed.  Finally, he sent the tag to a friend in America.  Former Marine Jashua Laudermilk and several others began a search for Martinson.

It took less than two days to find the veteran. 

Martinson, at the urging of his daughter, had recently ordered a new set of dog tags.

Now, with his missing dog tag in the mail, the former Marine wrote: “First off all   THANK YOU to everyone involved.  This whole story is unbelievable.  It’s ironic that on June 10th I went online to and ordered a new set of dogtags as I didn’t have mine.  Then on the 13th to find out that John had found one of them just blew me away.  I can’t thank enough, all of the people that took time out of the lives to return my tag to me.  It’s like a piece of me was returned from the past.”

After his story went viral, Martinson wrote: “I want to share all this attention I am getting with all the Veterans of Viet Nam and all those that are now serving their country as we once did.  I didn’t do anything to deserve to be singled out, it just happened.  I hope that all this will enable me to help all of you in some way.  Now that my name has circled the globe, I hope to be able to bring attention, in some way, to our brave brothers and sisters that are now serving on active duty.”

Bad news we have with us always.

Good news should be publicized.

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