Ashland resident and retired Marine David Lee Tucker, Jr. lines his sidewalk with the American flag

By: Tara Blue
Freedom often comes at a high price, one that is often paid for by our military service members.
Ashland resident and retired Marine David Lee Tucker, Jr. lines his sidewalk with flags this time of year as a reminder of this fact.

The flags are a display of his love for our country and for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans because Tucker believes we are experiencing a decline in patriotism.

“Flags don’t get flown as much today, and it’s a shame.”

Tucker remembers a time when American soldiers returning from Vietnam were treated with contempt.

He served 10 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, from 1967 to 1977. As a dog handler assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, Tucker was sent first into Vietnam combat zones to scout out possible threats.

He was injured twice during the Vietnam War and spent much of his service time in hospitals.

He was awarded the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts for his actions in combat.

At the age of 17, Tucker and his war dog “Satan”, whose name is derived from the Marine Corps moniker “Devil Dogs”, scouted the terrain of Vietnam in 1967.

Although he was honored for his service, the appreciation for his sacrifice did not carry over well into the civilian world.

Tucker remembers when many Americans did not hold a favorable opinion of soldiers and veterans who fought in Vietnam.

“We wouldn’t wear camo hats or military clothing (in public) and we had to be careful telling people we were in the military.”

Tucker says over time, his generation of Vietnam veterans fought hard to be treated properly and he appreciates that the public now holds a positive view towards veterans.

“We pushed proper medical care for veterans through congress. Now, vets are getting what we were promised.”

Tucker and his wife have two daughters who graduated from Southern Boone and they have since lived all over the U.S.

They recently moved back to Ashland last year to be closer to the Truman VA Hospital in Columbia, which they say is one of the top-ranking VA Hospitals in the country. They are thankful to live in a community that supports prior service members.

“Veterans are a small group of people who are willing to risk their lives to protect our freedoms. To me, the flag is a way to say thank you.”