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SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – Today we introduce you to a veteran who has ties to South Florida.

He served overseas in Vietnam and has ‘till this day considers himself lucky to be alive after surviving an enemy ambush.

John Birmingham grew up in Ft. Lauderdale but felt his calling was to serve his country during the war in 1967.

That calling shipped him off to Vietnam as a marine where he saw some heavy combat.

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He still remembers the night he was shot like it was yesterday.

“I was shot New Years Day, 1969,” he explained. “Our interpreter goes ‘we hear you might be giving the VC rice that night’ and she goes ‘VC here right now’ and she pointed to a trash dump and we went over and lifted it up and a dozen VC come running out.”

He didn’t make it out unscathed but he did make it out alive; an experience that forever changed him.

“I joined 1967 got out in 1969,” he said. “It was eye-opening to say the least.”

When he returned home, Birmingham came back a decorated hero with a purple heart amongst his proudest accomplishments.

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On behalf of CBS4 Miami and the Florida Panthers, we would like to say thank you John, for your service,