E. Michael Helms turned down a chance to play college baseball and joined the United States Marine Corps after high school graduation. As a rifleman with the Second Battalion, Fourth Marines (The Magnificent Bastards), he was involved in some of the heaviest fighting of the Vietnam War, including the Tet Offensive of 1968. For his service, Helms was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, and was honorably discharged in 1969.
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