Naismith went to Vietnam in 2010 to teach English. One day he went on to explore the place where the battle of Khe Sanh took place in 1968.
Khe Sanh was one of the bloodiest, and certainly one of the longest battles of the Vietnam War. It began in January and ended in July. The battle was fought between the North Vietnamese Army, U.S. Marines, airmen and soldiers and the South Vietnamese forces.
This is the place where the Australian teacher found an old aluminium dog tag. Although the area where the battle took place had completely changed and a museum had been built there, the dog tag survived 43 years under the dirt.
Naismith didn’t ignore all these signs but carried a whole investigation, trying to find the man it belonged to – presumably American Marine and most likely a casualty of the war.
The reason for which the U.S. forces entered the war, was to prevent Communist North Vietnam from invading and taking over South Vietnam. The number of casualties for the United States grew hugely during the war, with soldiers who never made it back home and others who did but had been heavily wounded – both physically and mentally.
The Vietnam War used to be the longest war in U.S. history, before the war in Afghanistan, the Your Houston News.com reports.
Because it was sometimes difficult to identify the bodies of the fallen servicemen, every American soldier and every member of the U.S. military, were requested to wear dog tags stating their initials, surname, blood type, gas mask size, serial number and religion. The tags were put around the neck and laced onto the boot. Every man had 2 tags.
At first, Naismith asked for support from the United States Government but the search was taking months and nobody knew if the man was still alive or if he had died during the war. Determined to find his own way around the mystery, he left Australia and traveled to the United States. There he met his friend Charlie Fagan, who was the owner of Good Time Charlie’s Motorcycle Shop, in California.
Charlie new someone who worked with Vietnam Vets and put Naismith in touch with her. Tanna Toney-Ferris told the story of the dog tag using social media networks and websites.
In June 2013, somebody post a message to an online Marine network: “[H]elp me locate the owner of the USMC Vietnam Veteran’s dog tag. [… It was] found in Khe Sanh Vietnam 2 years ago by an Australian teacher. The name is L. P. Martinson. His name is NOT on the WALL, so he made it out of Vietnam.”
Marine Staff Sergeant Joshua Laudermilk saw the message and managed to obtain Martinson’s phone number.
On June 4, 1968, US Marine Corps Sergeant Lanny P. Martinson lost his leg during the fight. He then worked in construction management in Minnesota until 1998, when he was granted 100 percent disability. Four years back he moved to Texas with his wife Delphine.
Martinson never realized that both his tags were missing until his 16-years-old daughter, Bobby, asked him if she could have them.
On August 20, 2013, John Naismith left California and traveled to Texas. Three days later he met Sergeant Lanny for the first time, 45 years after he was wounded in the Vietnam War. Missouri City held a special ceremony for the Vietnam vet the following day and over 100 people attended the event.