Memorial Day Ceremony 2024 - May 27, 1:45 PM

A Marine's Story: Part 3

Transition from Active Duty to Civilian Life

Our Marine spent the next year working hard to provide for his bride and help her finish her tour of duty.  His nightmares and terrors were very real and caused concern for both.  She had nightmares of her own due to her service.  They both believed in the commitment they made to God at their wedding and worked through their problems.

During this year they flew to Texas to see his baby brother get married!  It was a joyous reunion, and all seemed to go very well.  Then back to VA until February 1971 when his wife was discharged.

Upon her discharge, they drove to Colorado to visit her family and then to Texas where they had decided to settle down.  He was excited to see his mom and brother and family again.  Their adventure was taking a new turn…

Their life in Houston involved adjusting to civilian life, family life, and the changes in the world that had happened because of Vietnam.  One flight they took into the airport at Houston he was met by a Hari Krishna member that wouldn’t leave him alone and our Marine decked him!  The policeman at the airport hurried our Marine out before there was any trouble and nothing was ever said about it.

Our Marine’s life involved having a daughter and raising her, normal family stuff, buying a home on the GI Bill, going to school a bit, and fishing, hunting, and dancing with his wife!

He was working and eventually took a job with his brother, and as things often happen, it didn’t work out.  The war left his little brother with serious issues like jungle rot and drinking and his life was spiraling downward.  The two brothers had some disagreements through the years that eventually led to a serious parting.  His brother had three sons and it crushed our Marine to leave them.

A Change of Heart and Service to Veterans

Commandant of the Frank J Carroll Detachment of the Marine Corps League.

He never did much-involving veterans or veteran organizations.  He did find Jesus and accepted him as his savior.  After that he did a lot for his church.  His family was saved, and life began to look up for him from that point on.  His attitude and disposition improved immensely! 

In 1988 his wife got a job in Denver, and they moved where she could be close to her family. 

 In 1999 he and his wife began to get involved in veterans’ affairs and for the next 10 years he devoted time to the honor guard at funerals and did over 500 of them.  He was in the American Legion and Marine Corps League and served as Commandant of the Frank J Carroll Detachment for a tour. 

His wife was involved with the Women Marines Association and became national President which meant our Marine was her “Loyal Escort”!  All the women in the organization loved him!  They loved him wherever he went.  It got to be a joke among his friends because the women would pay attention to him and no one else! 

Agent Orange and the Identity of Our Marine!

Tony and Paula Sarlls

Then, on November 1, 2009, our Marine went to the ER with coughing up blood.  He was a smoker so the couple thought it might be an infection or something.  Unfortunately, it was Agent Orange cancer, and he was given 2 weeks to live, unless he did radiation and chemo.  Then he might get a couple more months.  His brother had had the cancer for years and had lost a leg to it and jungle rot, but he was still doing pretty well with it. Our Marine said he wasn’t going down without a fight so did the chemo and radiation and got about 2 more months before passing away.  Before he died his brother called and thanked him for saving his life in Vietnam and mended the wounds festering all those years. 

His wife and daughter are still living, and he is one of the driving forces behind the Memorial as his wife is the president of the USMC Memorial Foundation.  Our Marine is Anthony (Tony) George Sarlls!

It is for Marines like Tony and his brother, David that this Memorial was dedicated so many years ago and for them that we dedicate our efforts to making it the best it can be!  OOHRAH!

We encourage you to share your or your Marine’s story by sending it to

Picture of Paula Sarlls, President of  the USMC Memorial Foundation

Paula Sarlls, President of the USMC Memorial Foundation

Paula Sarlls served in USMC ’67-’71 as an air controller at Quantico, VA MCAS. Paula worked for over 30 years for the VA, IRS, US Customs Service and DHS, and retired 2004 with numerous awards. The programs she created have been used nationally for decades. Her enforcement operations resulted in the seizure of over $1 million in illegal merchandise.

Paula owned two businesses, PS Tax Service and P & T Candles. She is a veterans advocate, President of the Women Marines Association CO-1 and former national President ( ’05 – ’08). She is a member of the Marine Corps League, US Marine Corps Memorial Association, Aurora Defense Council, United Veterans Committee of Colorado, American Legion, and is an Honorary Board member of the Colorado Freedom Memorial Foundation, and Honorary Commander of 140th Wing – Colorado Air National Guard ’15 – ’16.

She was the SW Region and Colorado “Daughters of the American Revolution” Veteran Volunteer of the Year in 2020. She received the Colorado Veteran Volunteer of the Year in 2015 and many other awards including the Civilian Marksmanship Program Patriot Award in 2013.

Paula is the mother of one daughter.

She is a Gold Star widow and sister-in-law.

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