Northland Marine Killed in Vietnam Returns Home

Posted at: 06/29/2013 4:35 PM | Updated at: 06/29/2013 6:11 PM
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

A marine from Bayfield killed in Vietnam returned home after 46 years. Hundreds turned out to honor him at a memorial on Saturday.

Marine Lance Corporal Merlin “Merl” Allen died in 1967 at the age of 20. Enemy fire shot down his helicopter in Vietnam, and the wreckage was not found until last year.

His remains returned home to Wisconsin on Wednesday, and the local community pulled together to honor him on Saturday.

Losing Allen over 40 years ago was a shock to everyone in Bayfield especially his sister Marylin Neff.

“It was overwhelming, but we never forgot him,” Neff said.

Hundreds filled the Bayfield High School gym to remember the man lost so many years ago. Judy Meierotto described her former classmate as having time for anyone.

“And we had many good times together. Merl always had the best smile ever and his family always came first, and friends and I would have to say country next. He was a wonderful guy,” Meierotto said.

She was amazed that Allen's remains finally came home to family and friends.

“For this to happen so many years after losing him has to be so rare. I think everyone that knew him and people that didn't just want to be a part of this,” Meierotto said.

The show of support was emotional for Allen's family, but his sister said the memorial was something Allen would have loved.

“If he was here today, he liked a good party, and he would have loved this. Just thank you Bayfield, Washburn and everybody for helping us have this little party for him,” Neff said.

It took three searches in Vietnam to find the wreckage and bring Allen back home. His family was waiting over four decades for this moment, and Neff said a weight has already been lifted.

“The healing process for me has ended. What we had last night and then the response that we have here today, I'm feeling so much better,” Neff said.

Allen was given military honors at Little Sand Bay following the memorial in Bayfield. Neff said he will be laid to rest with his parents on York Island.

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