JENKS, Okla. – It’s an honor half a century overdue, but an Oklahoma veteran will finally receive a Commendation Medal for courage and heroism for his service in Vietnam.
Johnny Marler, who celebrates his 68th birthday on Sunday, was barely an adult when he arrived in Vietnam more than 50 years ago.
He turned 18 just a week before deploying.
A medic in the U.S. Army, Marler quickly saw action. His job was to tend to injured soldiers and to save lives. He never sought praise or recognition, but others took notice of his actions and his courage nonetheless.
Fast forward five decades to a phone call received by Marler’s oldest son, Jeremy.
“He got a call from a young man who had been going through files recently declassified,” said Sandra Marler, Johnny’s wife. “He asked my son if he knew a Johnny Marler and my son said, ‘That’s my father.’” He told my son he had come across an award letter that had never been delivered.”
The letter detailed a day in Vietnam when Marler and his comrades came under enemy fire. Marler did not run away but instead ran into the hail of fire to reach a wounded comrade, providing emergency aid and then dragging him to safety.
The actions earned Marler the honor, but he never received it.
The kind stranger forwarded the letter to Jeremy, who shared it with his mother.
“I was ecstatic to hear about the award,” Sandra Marler said. “My husband was and is a good man.”
When Sandra shared the letter with the Veterans’ Administration, they reached out to Senator Jim Inhofe’s office and quickly plans were put in place to ensure Marler would receive his long-overdue recognition.
Thursday, Senator Inhofe visited Grace Living Center to officially present the medal earned a half-century ago to Marler, at long last honoring him for his heroic actions in Vietnam.