After 45 Years, A Marine’s Dog Tag Is Found In Vietnam
It’s a picture that became a Facebook viral sensation, and now a 68 year old Vietnam veteran will be getting back dog tags back that he thought were lost forever. It’s amazing to think old relics are still being found in war zones and helping veterans fill holes from a very emotional time in their lives.
Lanny Martinson was a 23-year-old Marine sergeant in Vietnam when he last held his dog tags. In the 45 years since, he thought they were gone forever, lost in the mad rush to save his life after he and other Marines walked into a minefield.
He’ll soon be getting one of those dog tags back, after a network of people worked together to find the tag’s owner. When they contacted him, Martinson was just at the point of filing papers to request new dog tags, all these years later.
Describing how he felt when he realized his tag had been found, and that he could have it back, Martinson tells John Wilkens of U-T San Diego that he was overwhelmed.
“It’s like I left a part of me over there and somehow it’s made its way back to me from a dark place,” he says.
Martinson’s story has brought him a burst of fame, both among veterans’ communities online and in his hometown newspaper. The Lake County News-Chronicle of Two Harbors, Minn., did a feature story on him, and the struggles his family faced after he was wounded.
When asked what happened to his dog tags, Martinson tells the News-Chronicle that he would answer that he had no idea — “(At the time I lost them) I was in a lot of pain and on morphine, so I wasn’t too sharp,” he says.
A couple of years ago, the long-lost dog tag was discovered in the undergrowth where an airstrip had once been. That was in Khe Sanh, where Martinson had fought in a battle that raged for months. And it’s where on June 4, 1968, he stepped on a landmine that destroyed his right leg. Martinson came home from the war in a wheelchair, not sure where his tags had wound up.
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