Military tag lost 40 years ago returning to Vietnam War veteran


The year was 1968 and the place was Khe Sawn in Vietnam. It was the height of the war, and it's where a fresh-faced U.S. Marine from Minnesota was deployed. On a June day that year, Lanny Martinson was hit in his right leg by shrapnel from a landmine.

"When I put the tourniquet on, I decided myself that's gone," Martinson said.

His leg was later amputated. He would later realize his dog tags were missing. Actually it was lot later, when his teenage daughter asked about them.

"I would think I looked for them and couldn't find them and just told her I didn't have any for you to wear," Martinson said.

Time went on, the war ended and Martinson retired. He moved to Sugar Land from Minnesota a few weeks ago. On a whim, he ordered replacement dog tags. Four days later came the phone call, telling him the tag he lost had been found in the jungle outside Khe Sawn by an Australian man.

"He said he was just walking along, saw something shiny and picked it up and it said Martinson, LP on it," Martinson said.

The dog tag had been found two years earlier. It has taken that long to locate Martinson. Next month, it will be handed back to him.

"After I hung up my wife Delphine said, 'I think you better go in the bedroom and shut the door for a while. You need some alone time,'" Martinson said.

"I think this is all meant to be, I really do. God knows he's earned it," Delphine Martinson said.

Martinson expects to shed some tears when he touches a symbol of the past that is uniquely his, a small piece of metal that tells a story.

"It's actually part of you. It's given to you right away when you go in, and it's just part of who you are," he said.

The Australian man who found Martinson's tag will personally bring him the tag. He will be accompanied by retired Marine and Vietnam veteran motorcycle riders.

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