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In a poem Northrup writes: "We called ourselves U-S-M-C: Uncle Sam's Misguided Children."

Northrup had already been a Marine for four years by the time he landed in Vietnam in 1965. "All the stories I heard while growing up were about warriors in my family," he says. His relatives had served in Korea and both World Wars, not to mention the battles with the Dakota a couple of centuries ago. "So it was just my turn."