Mike Laudenslayer is a Vietnam veteran, now living in Dalton. He was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, a branch of the military he is proud to have served in.

"If I’m going to go to war, I’m going to go with the best," Mike said about choosing the Marines.

He has medals, ribbons, and pictures from boot camp that remind him of his time in the service.

"That's in the past,” he said, “I have all the memories I need."

Memories that take Mike back to his time at war.

"I was in infantry, Marine Infantry," he explained.

He’s humble, as many veterans are, and talks about his experience as something that shaped his life now. But don't be fooled, Mike has seen his share of bloodshed.

"Probably some of the hardest things I ever did was going down to the bank to identify bodies," he recalled.

He does not talk about combat. Not with family. Not with anyone.

"I’m not,” he urged when asked about it. “There's no sense in it."

However, he explained he earned a Purple Heart when he was wounded in Vietnam. He won’t say how he earned it. That's a story he also keeps close to the vest. But decades later, the injury sticks with him.

"I can't go to a fireworks display on my own,” Mike explained. “I can hear the mortars coming out of the tubes and that bothers me, because I was in mortar attacks."

It can be emotional for him to talk about, but he doesn't let it keep him down.

"You deal with it by dealing with it,” Mike said. “That's the best way I can say."

There are also a few other memories that make him laugh, from his time at boot camp. And when it all comes down to it, Mike said he wouldn't trade his years in the Marine Corps for anything else.

"For a Marine there's nothing better," he said through tears.

He said the Marines taught him to work through life’s obstacles.

“If you run into road blocks there's a way around it, or over it, or through it," he said. 

Mike is still active in the community, helping with Toys for Tots. He said volunteering helps keep him involved and around other veterans.

If you are a veteran and would like to get involved in Dalton you can check out the Georgia Department of Veterans Services and the Dalton American Legion.