Virginia Marine Looking for Man He Saved in Vietnam War - WSET.com - ABC13

Virginia Marine Looking for Man He Saved in Vietnam War

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Lynchburg, VA - Sergeant Steve Bozeman is a well-known veteran in Central Virginia.

You may know Bozeman as the man who has been organizing events at Monument Terrace every Friday for the past 11 years. Or maybe you first met him when he was profiled in ABC 13's Heroes from the Heart of Virginia series back in December.

Bozeman had mentioned a lifelong dream of his to find someone he deeply cared about. Reporter Parker Salybaugh took that dream and set out to make it come true.

For years, Sergeant Bozeman has wondered what happened to a man who he only knew for a few moments, a man whose life he saved during the Vietnam War.

May 4, 1967 is a day that has haunted Sergeant Bozeman for nearly half a century.

"They shot and the helicopter caught on fire and we crashed about a quarter mile away. The helicopter is on fire but there is one marine still stuck in there," said Bozeman.

Without any hesitation, Bozeman risked his own life to save the life of a man he had never met.

"I threw my machine gun down and hauled ass across the rice paddy, and reached up in the helicopter and got him out," he said.

Bozeman never knew the name of the man he saved, but counts it a privilege to have done his duty.

Sergeant Bozeman first shared that story back in December. Behind the scenes and unbeknownst to Sergeant Bozeman, Slaybaugh began to search for the unknown Marine. But trying to locate a man whose name I don't know and who we know very little about isn't easy.

But after weeks of searching and months of failed attempts, it was time to bring Bozeman in on the secret and together we decided to find help.

"Dear Senator Warner. My name is Steve Bozeman and I need your help in locating the name of an African American Marine that I pulled from a burning helicopter in Vietnam. I would at least like to know his name and hopefully he lived. Not a day goes by that I don't think of this incident," said Bozeman in a letter he wrote to Senator Mark Warner.

"We're happy to help, and I'm happy to report the Marine Corps is happy to help as well," responded Sen. Warner.

Five months after this journey began, he  finally felt a glimmer of hope. Warner and his staff filed a request with the National Archives.

"What Mr. Bozeman did was a real act of heroism," said Warner.

"I'm blessed to have lived a long life and have kids and grand kids; I hope he did too," said Bozeman.

For 46 years now, the same scene plays over and over in his mind.

"I can still see him lying right there in front of me when we picked him up on the stretcher and brought him in the helicopter," said Bozeman.

Leaving him even more determined to find the man.

"I'd like to sit down and shake his hand and talk about the days in Corps and that fateful day that we met," said Bozeman.

Call it coincidence or call it fate, one day shy of the 46th anniversary, Warner's office stamped the papers to their initial investigation.

"I know the Corps has gone ahead and actually identified the unit and now they are trying to go through further records to find which soldier was injured and try to track him down." said Warner.

"There is some hope now, after 46 years of wondering," said Bozeman.

Still no name, but a step in the right direction.

"We had a couple hundred thousand Marines that was there during that day, now we got it down to at least 100 marines that we can identify," said Bozeman.

A lot of questions remain to be answered, but what I know is Sergeant Bozeman, even though he may never admit it, is a hero to us all.

"Would you consider yourself a hero?" asked Slaybaugh.

"No, no, no, no, see this shirt," said Bozeman pointing to his memorial shirt. "These guys on this wall they're heroes. No doubt about it, 58,000. I was just a marine doing my duty."

Bozeman and Sen. Warner are more determined than ever to find the other man, the other marine, the other hero.

"To me it means a lot to find him, and hopefully I can," said Bozeman.

Unfortunately this Chapter to the story ends here, but we hope maybe you can help in writing the next chapter.

Bozeman now needs your help-- share, tweet and e-mail his story to everyone who may have any more information who could help find this person.

The date the crash happened was May 4, 1967 in Vietnam. The gentleman was an African American Male and was in Delta Company, First Battalion Third Marine. The operation was Operation Beaver Cage.

If you have any information that could help in finding this Marine, please email pslaybaugh@wset.com.

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