Marlin Edwin Bembenek

Specialist Five
Army of the United States
02 January 1942 - 27 October 1966
Gaylord, Minnesota
Panel 11E Line 117

Combat Medic

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Marlin E Bembenek

The database page for Marlin Edwin Bembenek

02 Jan 2002

Dear Marlin,
Today is your birthday. You would have been 60 years old.
They say that time heals, but sometimes healing takes more than time.
You are missed and you are still loved and thought of often.


27 Oct 2005

Dear Marlin,

It is hard to believe that it is 39 years ago today that you were taken from us. You are still in our hearts and we think of you often. Especially so this summer.

I went to Florida and met John Gagne who was with you the day you died. It was very special to meet John and his wife, Rita, because John sent me two items he had engraved for you last spring - a silver cup and a bracelet. I wear the bracelet all the time because you feel closer when I have it on.

Then I went to Minnesota and crashed your high school class reunion. The first thing that happened when I arrived was people told me they had been talking about you. In fact they had collected $200 to purchase a stone and have it engraved for you and mounted in a memorial in Arlington. Everyone I talked to mentioned your name. Some people that I didn't even know told me that you had been a good friend of theirs.

I was impressed and even blown away to know that your classmates were still talking about you even though it has been 45 years since graduation.

With much love, Jan

04 Mar 2006

Dear Marlin,

I missed your birthday this year. I thought about you on your birthday, but didn't get on the internet that day. I did call Mom and we talked about you. I am writing you on Kevin's birthday.

I believe Kevin came into our family to ease the pain of losing you. I only wish he had come earlier so the two of you could have gotten to know each other better. He has some of your mannerisms and he walks a lot like you. And he loves the farm and the outdoor life just like you always did.

I started a new job a couple months ago. I am a fitness specialist in a medical insurance company. It is part time and I love it. The reason I am telling you this is because one of the employees there had me in tears yesterday. She is a young woman and she saw the bracelet that John Gagne had engraved for you and then gave to me. She asked about it and then asked about you.

It was really a joy to be able to tell her what everything on the bracelet meant. But when she asked about you, I kept getting more and more teary eyed. It is hard to believe that nearly 40 years later I still can't keep from crying when I talk about or even sometimes think about you. They say that time heals. It doesn't! It just helps a little.

Well, Happy Birthday to you and to Kevin.
Love, Jan

From his sister,
Jan Barosh
Honolulu, Hawai'i

The Faces Behind the Names

is the title of a series published as "a one-man self-publishing endeavor" by a former Naval officer, Don Ward, who characterises it as follows:

"This significant historical historical project of gathering family-submitted biographies, letters, and photos of men killed in Vietnam is one of the most touching collections ever compiled of the men who were lost in that war. In these books, you will read comments from their families that remind us all of the terrible loss of America's young men and the life-time grief caused by this tragedy."

In Volume I, Jan Barosh remembers her brother:

My brother, Marlin Edwin Bembenek, died 30 years ago, saving someone else's life. That was my brother. He was a giver - he would give the shirt of his back, or anything, to help someone else.

Marlin was exactly one year and 12 days older than I. From my earliest memories, I looked to him with respect and admiration. He was my mentor, my leader, my teacher, my playmate, and my good friend.

When Marlin started school and I was too young to go, he used to come home and immediately read everything that he had learned that day from each book. I sat there, looking over his shoulder and learning to read along with him. I couldn't wait to go to school - to learn all those fascinating stories and things.

Each time someone asked what my brother did in Vietnam, the answer, "He's a medic in the infantry", brought a solemn look to the asker's face. Their silent prayers rang loudly in my head as I barely heard their voices softly whisper, "I hope he comes home." These responses should have prepared me for the inevitable. But all they did was prepare me for the 6:00 a.m. phone call that morning, when I knew what had happened even before my mother told me.

When Mom told me the date and time of death, my mind immediately went back to that horribly strange, weirdly uncomfortable feeling that had briefly come over me as I taught my ladies' exercise class that same night. Could it be....? Yes, 8:00 p.m. Wednesday night in Minnesota, was 10:00 a.m. Thursday morning in Vietnam.

It was a sad, difficult funeral. There were a lot of people there, many of whom I didn't even know. I only remember a few things that happened:

Our eight-year old brother stood alone next to the coffin. I was standing apart, watching and thinking that he barely knew his older brother, who had left home three years earlier, enlisting in order to avoid the draft, thinking he would have a better chance as an enlistee rather than a draftee. The tear that fell from my younger brother's eye, falling on my older brother's casket tore my heart out. It was hard enough for me. What was it like for him? Although I would never again be able to see my big brother, learn from him, share plans and experiences with him, or even tease him, at least I have lots of wonderful memories. And I have my two cherished gifts - a bracelet he sent me from his station, Fort Richardson, Alaska, congratulating me on my college graduation; and some furry Alaskan slippers that I try not to wear much, for fear they'll wear out. I was lucky that year - to have my name chosen to send a gift to Marlin for the Christmas exchange. Was it our special bond from childhood that selected my name?

I feel sad for our younger brother. He was deprived of knowing his special older brother during his growing years.

Hearing taps - the most horrible, lonely, lovely song in the world.

I can't write anymore. I'm crying again. Marlin, I miss you.

Taken from
The Faces Behind the Names, Volume I
with permission.

17 Jan 2002


by his sister
Vernette Bembenek Mehlhop

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Although officially assigned to HQ Company, 4/23rd Infantry, SP5 Marlin E. Bembenek was in the field with "B" Company at the time of his death. Bravo 4/23 lost another soldier on 27 Oct 1966, SSG Michael Rand of New York City, NY. Staff Sergeant Rand died of wounds; The Virtual Wall is unable to determine if he was involved in the same action as Specialist 5 Bembenek or was wounded in a different incident.

Visit John Dennison's
Medics on the Wall
memorial which honors the
Army Medics and Navy Corpsmen who died in Vietnam.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his sister,
Jan Barosh
03 Jan 2002

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 03/12/2006