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"The Ultimate Price"

The names of more than 58,000 men and women cover the black granite walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Another 300,000 Americans were wounded in action. The following letters serve as a somber reminder of the precious cost of war.

John K. Marshall (1949-1968) was born in Green Bay and enlisted in the Marine Corps in December, 1967, while still a senior in high school. He served with the military police (27th Mar., 1st Mar. Div.) and as a fire team leader (C Co., 1/5th Mar., 1st Mar. Div.) near Da Nang from May, 1968, until November 17, 1968, when he was killed in action.

Letters from John K. Marshall to his family:

August 29, 1968

Dear Mom & Dad & Family

Well I got here to the 5th Marines yesterday. We came over by helicopter. Guess what I'm getting. Now don't panic. I'm getting a "Purple Heart." At 8:30 P.m. on Aug 27 I was coming back from the bathroom and we started to run to the bunker but the second round came in and I got shrapnel in the left high part of the leg and in the forehead right above the eye. When I was running the mortar hit and I fell to the ground. I felt the piece of metal hit my head. I then made it to a bunker and took off my T-shirt and put it on my head. After that I went to the doctor and they took the metal out. I then got a penicillin shot. I got a little piece in the arm too. So I guess I was lucky I wasn't nearer to it when it hit. There was about 6 that hit. There were about that got hit too. I thought at first that was the end of me. Cause I felt it hit my head & blood started coming out fast. I didn't know I was hit in the leg till later. Well I get a Purple Heart out of it anyway. 
. . .You know if you get three purple hearts you get out of Vietnam. . .

love
John

September 2, 1968

Dear Mom & Dad & Family

Well this isn't such a quiet unit as the 27th. We got into a fight with the VC. We killed a bunch of em but they killed & wounded more than enough of our guys. Our squad leader was killed. He got shot in the back in the spinal cord. The guy next to me was shot right in the shoulder. Those bullets make some big holes in people. I seen a couple of VC with bullets in their heads. It's enough to get you all shook up. I'm getting another purple heart cause this morning I was scraped by a bullet. It was on the right side. I had my flak jacket on laying on the ground. I was crawling when I was hit. The flak jacket isn't bulletproof but it helps against mortars & grenades some. Your novenas are helping me. That's 2 purple hearts in 6 day. Those wounds I had could of turned out serious if I wasn't lucky. It rained out hard the last 2 nights. I get wounded 1 more time, and I come back to the U.S. Well I pray everyday so I can make it back. I'll write soon as I can again. So keep praying and I'll make it back.

love always
John

Marshall wrote the following letter three days before he was killed in action. His third Purple Heart was awarded posthumously to his parents.

November 14, 1968

Dear Mom & Dad & Family

Hi again. Everything is pretty okay here. Been having quite a bit of rain the last few days but today has been pretty hot. Been getting all your letters. . . .
I had a dream last night that some VC were coming towards me and I got shot pretty bad but lived & got a third purple heart. Before I was wounded I had a dream I was shot. So who knows. We been back on C-rats the last 2 weeks. Your last letter I got was dated Nov. 4th. Did you get my check from Nov. 1st for 120.00. I should have close to 600.00 in the bank now. Well that's about all I have to say for now so I'll close.

Love always
John

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