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Hometown Hero - John Koehler

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Hometown Hero - John KoehlerTerry Kovarik reports

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 .


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