Veteran Salute: Time in Vietnam molded life

Veteran Salute

He is a Marine, whose service to his country spans from Vietnam to the political trail.

Stephen Markley says he has a much different perspective on the war than most, since the small and experimental unit he was part of was so involved with Vietnamese military members, and civilians inside the villages.

From a very early age Stephen Markley knew he wanted to be a Marine.

Markley also came from a long line of servicemen.

“All of my male relatives served in the military, even the farm kids, they didn’t take their deferments, they went ahead and went in,” Vietnam Veteran Stephen Markley said.

Markley did the same and went to Vietnam.

“Every time the sun went down you didn’t really know if you were going to be back in the morning,” Markley said. “It was really threatening!” 

Markley was with a small, specialized unit stationed out in the middle of nowhere. Their mission was to help in any way they could.

“I mean we did everything! We were pall bearers at funerals, helped deliver babies, we did everything! Lots of med camps, where we would try to go in and try to provide medical care for the Vietnamese,” Markley said. 

He says he would do it all over again.

“It’s been an interesting life, and that little eighteen month period of my life, that I spent there has molded everything that has happened since, and still does,” Markley said. 

He says he has had the opportunity to meet some fascinating people in his lifetime and at one time was campaigning for a presidential hopeful, until he met his opponent.

“I’d actually by this time given speeches against Reagan, you know, just another actor in the White House, but eventually met him and completely changed my opinion,” Markley said.

He says his fellow serviceman Rick Eilert, also knew Reagan well and he helped his life long friend write For Self and Country. One of the characters in the book was based on Markley.

“Both our mothers said great book, wish you boys could do something about your language. Both of our mothers,” Markley said.

The book details what it was like for Markley and others who were wounded.

His story was also featured in Beyond Dark Clouds.

The book features a few pages and pictures of Markley, one he says documents one of the happiest days of his life.

“I’m calling a girl I was dating at that time! That’s the day I got out,” Markley said.

Once home, he used his velvety voice to grace the radio waves and that line of work lead the cowboy to many opportunities to help the future, by participating in youth rodeos.

Markley has also stayed very involved with many veteran organizations over the years.

He says helping others is one way he learned to cope with survivor guilt, since he made it home and many others were not as fortunate.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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