There's no need to do a double take as the grand marshal rides by on Memorial Day. That really is Mike Mauger.

There's no need to do a double take as the grand marshal rides by on Memorial Day. That really is Mike Mauger.

Mauger is well known to Worthington residents as a 40-year veteran of the Worthington Division of Police. He retired in January after eight years as chief.

What is less known is that Mauger was a Marine before he was a police officer. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1968 and served a year in Vietnam in 1969.

First as a rifleman and then a platoon radioman, he saw action and earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, serving with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

His combat base, An Hoa, was in the Quang Nam province, about 20 miles southwest of and along the route to DaNang.

Skirmishes were mostly small but regular, yet he was wounded in a big battle in late 1969.

While conducting patrols in the area of Liberty Bridge, LeBac 5, his platoon was ambushed.

A fellow soldier stepped on an IED, burning his foot and eye badly. Cpl. Mauger assisted in directing supporting arms to defend the platoon and in directing a medical-evacuation chopper in for the Marine, who succumbed to his wounds.

Mauger wanted to stay and fight, describing his injury as a "flesh wound," but was forced to board the chopper and spend 10 days aboard a medical ship.

Seeing those who were wounded and dying was a sight he will never forget, and watching the medics work was impressive, he said.

Mauger returned to duty and then was shipped back to the United States in February 1970. Eight months later, he joined the Worthington Division of Police.

Asked how often he thinks of his year in Vietnam, Mauger answers without hesitation.

"Every day," he said.

The experience taught him about people, leadership and commitment and instilled in him an appreciation of everyday life.

"After you see people die, you realize that the days you think are bad days aren't bad at all," Mauger said.

He also remains proud to be a Marine and to have been chosen to lead the parade on Memorial Day.

"Being grand marshal is a nice award," he said. "It's not just me; everybody who has been in the service is a grand marshal that day."