Vernon E. Firnstahl – Major, United States Marine Corps

Vernon E. Firnstahl, 70, of General Lee Drive passed away at a local hospital in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on June 7, 2001 at 11:00am, after a long battle with cancer.

Vernon retired a Major in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) after serving 25 ½ years with campaigns in Korea and Vietnam. Vernon was the recipient of many campaign and service awards most notably a Silver Star and two Purple Hearts from his tour in Korea (50-51) as a PFC with D-2-7 and a Bronze star with Combat “V” from his tour in Vietnam (67-68) as a Major.

He also taught math at First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach where he retired after 18 years of service. He was a recipient of 2 Teacher of the Year Awards (1987 &1994) while teaching at First  Colonial High School. Although he was proud to have received these rewards, his true reward was having his past students tell him how much they respected and admired him.

Vernon was born January 22, 1931 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He joined the Marine Corps in 1949 and retired in 1974. Vernon joined the Virginia Beach School System in 1978 and retired in 1996. He enjoyed fishing, ice hockey and soccer and any sport that his kids were playing. After watching his kids play soccer for years, Vernon became a soccer coach and referee and enjoyed much success as a soccer coach at First Colonial High School.

Vernon is survived by his loving and caring wife of 48 years, Fay Firnstahl; 2 daughters: Susan Firnstahl of Virginia Beach and Sandra Moore and husband Thomas of Virginia Beach; and 3 sons: David Firnstahl and wife Denise of Portsmouth, Charles Firnstahl and wife Arlene of Virginia Beach and Mike Firnstahl and wife Linda of Norfolk; one brother Ramon Firnstahl of St Paul, Minnesota, and 2 sisters Virginia DeGidio of Arizona and Alice Young of Minnesota. But most importantly the 7 grandchildren that he loved dearly: Darcy Firnstahl, Morgan Firnstahl, Tucker Firnstahl. Preston Firnstahl, Owen Firnstahl, Ashley Firnstahl and Gillian Moore.

Vernon’s last wish was to be buried with Full Honors in Arlington National Cemetery, and that request has been granted. The ceremony will be held on July 2, 2001, at 11am.

The Major's military honors included:

  • Silver Star
  • Bronze Star with Combat V
  • Purple Heart with Star (the star designates 2nd Purple Heart)
  • Good Conduct Medal with Star (enlisted only)
  • National Defense Medal w/ Star (Korea & Vietnam)
  • Korean Service Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal
  • Vietnam Staff Service Medal
  • United Nations/Korea Service Medal
  • Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
  • Navy Commendation Medal
  • Republic of Korea Campaign Medal
  • Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Ribbon
  • Combat Action Ribbon
  • Navy Presidential Unit Citation
  • Navy Unit Commendation
  • Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
  • Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
  • Korean Presidential Unit Citation
  • Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation


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