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Local Vietnam veteran’s 30-year search for his war buddy finally comes to end

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Vietnam veterans visit the grave of their fellow Marine, David A. Orton, at the Marion National Cemetery in Marion, Indiana. From left they are Dave Kline, Wendell Shannon, and Bob Means of Urbanna. Means is author of “My Soul To Keep—Picking Up Pieces—A Marine’s Journal After Combat.”

Urbanna resident Robert (Bob) Means has been searching for his Vietnam war buddy Dave Orton for 30 years. The search recently ended in a military cemetery in Indiana.

Means’ search began in earnest after watching the 1986 movie Platoon. “Until that movie I tried to put the war behind me” he said, “but the movie ignited a burning desire to meet up again with the Marines I fought with.”

His big break came after his unit’s 5th 155 Gun Battery’s (5th Guns) first reunion five years ago where he met up with former gun crew members David Kline and Wendell Shannon. “It was a fantastic experience to be back together with my buddies after so long a delay. I could have stayed there for the rest of my life. I didn’t want it to end. The big question became, ‘Has anybody heard from Dave Orton?’ ” said Means. 

The 5th Guns battery unit went into Vietnam in early 1967 after forming up at 29 Palms Marine base in California. “We spent 9 months forming up the battery of 155 self-propelled guns at the Palms getting organized and going through intense training in the California desert,” said Means. “It was there we began to mold together as a proud family.”

posted 11.08.2018

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