Marine veteran reflects on his service and what the Fourth means to him

WTAP News @ 10
Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 7:58 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - “I’m a proud marine. I served proudly. I still to this day as a member of the Marine Corps League promote the marines,” says Donald Dearth.

Marine corps sergeant, Donald Dearth served 13 months in the Vietnam War.

During that time, Dearth says that he dealt with his own moments of close calls out in Da Nang.

Once as a radio operator at camp A101, when he heard explosions outside of a radio shack he was hard at work in.

“And I’m asking the sergeant major, ‘What’s going on?’ He says, ‘We’re getting overrun. You need to grab your rifle and get out here and start shooting,” says Dearth. “So, I spent that night – that was my night of combat. It was an all-night deal. A lot of the green berets didn’t make it.”

And another time when dearth was a trombone player with the First Marine Aircraft Wing Band.

As he and his bandmates were told to get out of where they were performing, because of a Viet Cong attack.

“He said, ‘Marines, what I need for you to do is pack up your stuff, get on those trucks and get out as fast as you can. And we’re all going, ‘Uh oh.’ And he said, ‘Yes, you’re in danger as of right this minute,’” says Dearth.

After his service, he found a way to give back to veterans and marines through the Marine Corps League. And the group’s fundraiser, “Flags for Heroes.”

That gives people the opportunity to dedicate a flag to a hero in their life.

“It gives everybody a chance to express who their real hero in life is,” says Dearth. “It may have been their first-grade teacher, it may have been their drill instructor at boot camp. It maybe God. We’ve had people do that.”

Dearth says that after his time serving his country, he sees the holiday as a time to remember those who served with him who are no longer here.

“Now on the Fourth of July, I don’t worry about the fireworks, I worry about the veterans that we’ve lost that didn’t come home,” says Dearth. “Fifty-two thousand of them or better that didn’t come home from Vietnam were my fellow brothers and sisters.”

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