Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart Recipient
A Letter to Tracey Samlow
From my Mom, Carole Anne (Dobes) Spohnholtz
About her Father, LAWRENCE MICHAEL SPOHNHOLTZ and his time in the U.S. Military, his service in Vietnam and as a Dad.
Larry joined the Navy, Sept. 26, 1963.
His basic training and later Corpsman school were at Great Lakes.
He graduated Corp school in June 1964!
After that, he was stationed at Portsmouth, Virginia, on a pediatric ward for 2 years.
He then was sent to Camp LeJeune for Marine training, before being deployed to Vietnam!
He was with the Kilo 3/7 in Vietnam, 1966/67.
He came home on Mother’s day 1967 to Tomahawk. Wisconsin, his hometown.
He was then stationed again at Great Lakes. We started dating in June and will never forget the 4th of July that year. We were coming out of my parents’ house, when some kids lit some firecrackers off. The next thing I knew he was laying flat on the ground!! Automatic reflex was to duck for cover. That night we went with another couple to the drive-in theater, for a movie, and fireworks after. The car was a convertible, and when the fireworks started, he almost climbed under the front seat!! It was a so hard to see that kind of reaction, knowing it was something other than the fireworks that affected him!
He was released from active duty in September 1967. He still felt honor bound to continue his service, by joining the Navy reserves.
He stayed in the reserves for 2 years, until his Honorable discharge September 26, 1967.
We were married on September 20, 1967!
He really didn’t talk about Vietnam. He was proud of his service and would talk about the Navy, especially a friend he was serving within Virginia, Gordy. We even went to visit him one Summer. He would say that the Marines were the best, but not really expand on it.
We had company one day, and somehow our friend said something about how hard it had to be for him taking care of all the wounded etc. Larry said, “you do what you have to do, and that included the body bags”. Normally he was able to verify who in them, except when there were multiple casualties in a small area. A foxhole was hit with a mortar, with 3 Marines in it!! He was only positive of one of the remains, because two of the men were white, and one was black! It still bothered him about it!
He found a website for Vietnam Marines for the Kilo 3/7 unit and started to get newsletters from them. He even talked to the man who started the website, and Reunions. That was the first time he reached out about his tour in Nam!
He always read the newsletters, and sometimes would write back about something he read. This one time he was reading a newsletter he just received, and the next thing he was sobbing! It took him a while before he could talk to me. There was a picture with an article about one of his Marines that he took care of, but who didn’t make it. Seeing his picture brought it all back!!
In August of 2011, we were able to go to one of the reunions. There he was reunited with Charles Koenig, who was with him in Viet Nam!! After spending time with him, and the others, he felt more at peace, and part of the family that this group has become. The group includes all the years we were in Vietnam, so the ages vary. We were so happy and, felt so blessed going to the reunion. We also met 4 other corpsmen there. The Marines really respect the corpsman and make you feel like one of them, even though they were technically Navy.
Larry kept in touch with some of the men, by emailing back, and forth. He really enjoyed himself and his fellow Marines. Even though Larry has past, I still get the Marine newsletter from them, to keep in touch. Larry was so proud of his service to our country and of being a Marine!
From all of us at Voice of the Vet, we Salute You and Thank You for Your Service to and for our Country.
Rest In Peace Sailor!