The Navy Seal time forgot | Guest op

John Marcus Alberti, a highly-decorated war veteran, was inurned at Tahoma National Cemetery, following a ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park and a motorcade from Auburn to Kent on Thursday. - Courtesy photo
John Marcus Alberti, a highly-decorated war veteran, was inurned at Tahoma National Cemetery, following a ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park and a motorcade from Auburn to Kent on Thursday.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

John Marcus Alberti took his last breath at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center on April 19.

He was alone with no next of kin.

The hospital, having no information on any living relative, placed his body in the morgue. He had been living in Auburn with Annie Johnson, whom he had met at a counseling class several years earlier.

Alberti had been admitted to the hospital, diagnosed with pneumonia. That morning he called Annie to tell her that he thought he would be discharged that afternoon. When she arrived to see him, his bed was empty, and she was informed he had passed away.

Because Annie was not related to John, she was unable to make any decisions regarding John's body, funeral arrangements, etc.

Annie contacted her longtime friend, Tim Graves of Kent, for help. Knowing Alberti had served in Vietnam, they obtained his records. After reading through his record they discovered that Alberti had been a highly-decorated Navy SEAL.

Alberti was born in Honolulu on Sept. 24, 1940. There is no information of John's life between the bombing in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and his enlistment in the Navy in Santa Cruz, Calif., on his 17th birthday. At the time of enlistment, John was 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.

He did not finish high school, but in the service he got his GED.

John served his first four years and obtained the rank of GM2 E5. He re-enlisted on Sept. 24, 1961 in Barbers Point, Oahu, and served another four years. He served a total of five years, six months and nine days at sea.

Alberti received extensive training during his tenure: six months underwater demolition training; two months of airborne training with the SEALs; Navy special war training; five months training in intelligence with the CIA; and other operations.

He completed courses in rapid deployment, strike force, command school, paramedics, and crypto/communications and had other special training.

After five years in Vietnam, he came home highly decorated: Navy Cross; two Silver Stars; Bronze Star; Vietnam Service with Clusters; President Unit Citation; Individual Presidents Citation (he was personally decorated by President John F. Kennedy); Special Operations Citation; Navy Commendation; military Advisor Medal; and five Purple Hearts.

Records show he was in five major battles: 1959 Long Xuyen; 1960 Saigon; 1961 Phu Vihn; 1963 Danang; and 1964 Can Tho.He was a prisoner of war from March to October 1962. No information was available regarding his release.

Alberti was discharged on Sept. 24, 1965, leaving the service with the rank of Senior Chief Gunners Mate E-8. He was born Sept. 24, joined Sept. 24, re-enlisted Sept. 24 and was discharged Sept. 24.

At the time of his discharge, Alberti refused all military benefits.

John Marcus Alberti, 73, left this world with a few friends, few possessions.

After several months of red tape, Johnson, with the help of the American Legion Auburn Post 78, honored the man with a ceremony at Auburn's Veterans Memorial Park, followed by a motorcade to Tahoma National Cemetery, where his ashes were inurned. A reception followed at the home of his friends, Tim and Cheri Graves.

A great, humble American rests.

Jack Hanes, of Albany, Ore., is a Navy veteran, and was a friend of John Marcus Alberti. Inspired by Alberti's service, he wrote this tribute.

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