Stanley LaVerne Sprunger was born on January 28, 1944. Sprunger grew up in northern Illinois. In an interview at Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, IL, he says that he had friends from school in Rockford, IL.1 From a newspaper announcing his volunteer enlistment into the Marine Corps, Sprunger was from Sterling, IL. Either way, Sprunger grew up in northern Illinois, along the Rock River. From that same newspaper, Sprunger was 19 years old when he enlisted into the Marines in July of 1963.2
He served as a Combat Infantryman for the 1st Marine Division in the 5th Marine Regiment from 1963 to 1967. During this time, he did two tours in Vietnam in the Chu Lai area doing patrols near the frontline/DMZ (or de-militarized zone, meaning that there is an area where no military actions can be undertaken), once from May of 1964 to May of 1965, and from June of 1965 to December of 1966.3 During this time Sprunger rose to the rank of Corporal and was a Squad Leader during his tours, meaning that he was a higher-rank official who directed other Marines in tasks and missions.
Sprunger was asked to present at a Sauk Valley Community College, and he shared many war stories with the audience. One part of what he shared was his experiences with Agent Orange, a chemical designed to remove vegetation so soldiers can navigate the jungle better. It also takes about a week to be safe to humans once applied to vegetation. This same chemical led to many health problems with soldiers, and Sprunger was one of them.4 He showed the audience his scars and burns from Agent Orange, and he described how he knew many people he served with who had cancer and other health issues that were directly related to Agent Orange. In one such story, Agent Orange was deployed the day before, and his commanding officers ordered his Squad to go out into that same area where they put the chemical. Obviously, this was very dangerous to the soldiers.5
Another story that Spunger told was when he risked his life to save a commanding officer who was injured. He faced enemies shooting at him, but he still put his life on the line and carried his commander to safety anyway. Sadly, he did not receive an award for his immense bravery, but he definitely deserves one!
After he retired from the military, Sprunger became a very active member in support of VietNow, an organization that tried to help veterans get the health and care they needed, especially those who weren’t getting attention from Veteran’s Affairs hospitals and clinics about Agent Orange. However, while he was genuine about VietNow’s efforts, the organization turned into a scam who failed to do what they said they were going to do.
However, Sprunger was a great man with great achievements. He had a genuine desire to serve, and that was represented by his military service and activism with VietNow. He did not receive any awards for this service, but he was a man who deserved many. He passed away on June 17, 2003.