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Vernon L Kesler

War: Korean
Parent/Wife: Harry/Agnes
City: Marshfield
Birth Date: October 28th, 1929
Death Date: January 26th, 1951
How Died: KIA
Where Died: Korea
Where Buried: Hillside Gate of Heaven
Rank: Cpl
Branch: Army

Kia=Killed in Action
Dow=Died of Wounds
Dod=Died of Disease
Mia=Missing in Action


The Forgotten Soldier?

People often refer to the Korean War as the Forgotten War. It was never declared as a war but more of a police action. The Korean war was preceded by World War II and succeeded by the controversial Vietnam War, but that is no excuse. Soldiers fought and died, fighting for democracy. We must never forget the effects that the Korean War had on the lives and families of many Americans. They must be remembered. The memory of one forgotten soldier will now be remembered.

Corporal Vernon L. Kesler was a lifelong resident of Marshfield, WI. He graduated from Marshfield High School in 1946. At the age of 17, he chose to enroll in the army and entered the end of World War II. Besides Kesler's basic training, he spent his 1-1/2 years of service in the Intelligence Corps in Kyoto, Japan. He spent his time filing and screening reports. After many long hours of hard work, Kesler received the grade of sergeant at the end of his term.

After his discharge, Kesler remained in the reserves and enrolled in St. Norbert College in Depere, WI. Kesler was a junior in college when much to his family's dismay he was recalled to duty on September22 of 1950.

Kesler spent the next seventy-one days of physical exhaustion training to become a rifleman. Because of Kesler's extreme devotion and hard work, he was awarded as assistant commander of a packet, or small group of men. His job was to direct and lead the packet of men as they fought the enemy.

On November 15, 1950 he was deployed to Japan landing in Yokohama. The next day he arrived in Korea. His job was to evacuate GI soldiers from an unsafe zone. According to letters sent to his parents, he spent a large majority of his time in constant rearguard actions. The bravery that this man executed can only be marveled by the many of us who have never spent a day at war.

It was a daunting New Year's Day for Kesler and a group of GIs who found themselves surrounded by Red Forces. In an effort to protect their lives, they voluntarily made the decision to leave behind all their possessions but their rifles. They successfully broke through the forces on tanks. They rode a scrupulous twenty-three hours aboard the tanks without stopping. But their success was short lived when they then proceeded to hike another forty miles to a retreat zone. They were then shipped seventy-five miles aboard trucks, a painstaking journey endured by the courageous group.

January 20, 1951 Kesler unknowingly sent the last letter he would ever write to his family. The corporal told them that he was with a reserve outfit going to new weapons classes all day and standing guard all night. The fear in his parents can only be expressed as absolute.

Unfortunately, the ultimate standstill came for Kesler when an altercation with enemy forces erupted. He fought with valence for his country and what it stood for. On January 26, 1951 Corporal Vernon L. Kesler lost his life in Korea. He was the first Marshfield resident to lose his life in the Korean War. No Marshfield resident should ever go without recognizing the wonderful man who once roamed the streets here, a man who saw the same things that can be seen everyday, but who chose to defend the United States of America and fight for democracy. Marshfield will mourn the loss of this brave soldier and honor his memory for years to come.

Mr. And Mrs. Harry Kesler of Marshfield, WI were notified of their son's death on February 10, 1951 through a dreaded telegram from the War Department. Words can not express the grief that his family must have felt at the news of their lost member. Vernon not only left behind his parents, but eight brothers and sisters who will always hold the memory of their brother with them. Harold Kesler who lived in Manitowoc, WI, received his Bachelor of Science degree on the day of Vernon's death. Herbert Kesler was a senior at St. Norbet College. Eileen Kesler was a laboratory technician at the Mayo Clinic. Vivian Kesler was a senior at Marshfield High School. As well as Marilyn, Carol, Harriet and Karleen Kesler, who were students all attending Sacred Heart School. This family will forever remember the effects that the war in Korea had on their lives. They will always remember how their beloved son and brother fought for a united cause, and lost his life.

Corporal Vernon L. Kesler's memorial mass was held on February 12, 1951 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Marshfield, WI.
The bravery of this soldier can and will not be forgotten. His family and friends will always remember their slain soldier who gave his life defending the rights of the United States of America, and we will too. You are not forgotten.

Written by: Miranda Reigel, Student East Junior High


News Articles

Funeral Services for Kesler
Kesler Notice
Kesler Notice 2
Kesler Returns Home
Kesler Tribute Page
Legion Ceremonies
Legion Post Adding Kesler to Name
Memorial Mass for Kesler


  Honoring Our Wood County War Dead