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Hometown Hero - John Koehler

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News video: Hometown Hero - John KoehlerTerry Kovarik reports

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Transcript: Hometown Hero - John Koehler

((erin)) time now for this week's ''hometown hero". john koehler served in vietnam aboard an aircraft carrier, well away from the ground war. ((tom)) but this u-s marine corp veteran is now fighting for those impacted by agent orange, no matter which side they fought for. local five's terry kovarik has kay- ler's story. [:00] terry kovarik; john koehler was looking to put his life on a different track after high school. in 1971. the united states marine corps was his vehicle. john koehler : "i was looking to get out and beyond my original scope out of eau claire county. and see the world and learn a little bit about people and fulfill my military obligation." [:21] terry kovarik: after basic, koehler served aboard the aircraft carrier u.s.s. ticonderoga protecting fellow marines, sailors and key parts of the ships arsenal. [:30] john koehler :"we ran the ship's brig and we had nuclear weapons on board. and we provided security for them. and i was also nco in charge of the gun mounts." [:45] terry kovarik: the ticonderoga did it's part in helping wind down u.s. involvement in vietnam. it launched aircraft that dropped mines in haiphong harbor, north vietnam. [:55] john koehler :"they stepped up bombing again around christmas, 1972 christmas to get the peace talks going again. and that seemed to have a positive affect in getting the north vietnamese back to the peace table." [1:10] terry kovarik: after koehler was discharged from the corps, he made a successful career as a teacher and a consultant. but koehler never talked about the war or got involved in veterans organizations. that is until fellow he served with started showing symptoms of exposure to the defoliant "agent orange". [1:27] john koehler :"my brother was a vietnam veteran and he ended up with some physical and mental disabilities and ended up committing suicide in 2005." [1:39] voice of: john koehler :"it's an issue that not only continues and hurts the veteran himself but it continues for like seven-generations. [1:47] terry kovarik: koehler is looking for more hard data on agent orange's long-term impacts. so next month he and other veterans will return to vietnam to see how post-war generations there have been affected. [1:59] john koehler :"they estimate that there's roughly four-million people over there that were exposed to it. and there's been four-hundred thousand deaths related directly to agent orange." [2:11] terry kovarik: koehler wants to learn how agent orange victims are being helped there and share with veterans and anyone who can make a difference. [2:20] john koehler :"talk a little bit about what i found, take some pictures and talk with some doctors." [2:27] keeping it local in appleton, terry kovarik. local 5 news. ((tom)) we are still accepting your nominations for a hometown hero.. write terry kovarik at the address on your screen . ((erin))




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