Brunswick’s Paul Muth was a medic assigned to Anloc in ‘Nam.
An Lộc is in Bình Phước Province in South Vietnam, about 72 miles north of Saigon.
Paul left the service in ’74 and thus not before the North Vietnamese offensive in ’72, when 100s of the North Vietnamese, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, outnumbering Paul’s Division, overran their position along Highway 13.
There was hand-to-hand fighting and Paul only lived by pulling a dead body on top of himself in a trench, hidden from the enemy’s advance by this fleshy cloak of death.
When the Viet Cong attack was successfully halted and pushed back, Paul was saved by the airborne; they pulled Paul from beneath his brother-in-arm’s lifeless body.
Paul’s war nevertheless continues.
Paul suffers these many years later from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) — as he wasn’t treated upon his return from ‘Nam when it really matters.
The swamp fog of war follows Paul to this day, invisible to anyone else, except a comrade in arms, who was in “the shit” and saw the body parts in the field of war, on the paths of conflict, separated from the soulless bodies that no longer have any use for them.
“I’m in Brunswick,” Paul said, “I can’t handle the speed of DC. When I came home from ‘Nam, I went to Walter Reed and, now I have two masters degrees in counseling and I treat service men and women with PTSD coming back. But I am still working on my own PTSD.”
Paul lives in the “Building Veterans” recovery home in Brunswick.
“I have these dreams, the most terrifying,” said Paul, “and I wince or worse when I hear trees rustling, or a sudden quick sound, like bullets are splashing. In the Brunswick house, it’s like having comrades again.”
The PTSD condition denies the returning soldier the forgetfulness that might heal or assuage his disorder. But this is only one wound that follows the life of a returning service man or woman.
Last Saturday, Paul was attending Lovettsville’s Patriot Mile Fun Run & Walk, to honor vets, on Armed Forces Day; this thoughtful gesture was sponsored by Building Veterans from Brunswick, and the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes.
James Buckley, a Ranger who served from ’84 to ’92, explained, with a gentle voice, and such clear blue Irish eyes, how he served in Panama and Desert Storm in the 1st Ranger Battalion, and how he expected to walk briskly his “patriot mile” this past Saturday at a pace of 4 miles an hour.
James said, “I can walk although I once broke my back jumping out of a plane. I quite enjoy living in Brunswick at Building Veterans.”
James’ Battalion is the first of the three ranger battalions in the US Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment.
His Battalion was modeled after the British Commandos in World War II, and the Rangers were the first to see action in Europe in France in 1942, a noble and heroic history ever since.
Brian Dempsey spoke to the “patriot milers” including vets, public officials, family, and the young, and cautioned them one and all, before the “run” began, laughing as he said it, that no one need be out to break any world records for the mile.
No need when you consider the personal records that these men and women broke in their service to country and to their brothers and sisters in arms, their comrades.
This kind of recognition, this local obeisance, the patriot mile, is well deserved for what these men and women sacrificed.
We only hope that more will be done to care for their health and the well-being of our returning armed forces from fields of conflict around the world.