By Jennifer Martin - email
"I was drafted in October 1966. I was sworn in on my 26th birthday," Paul Holly said.
It was a big surprise because 26 was supposed to be the cutoff age. But Holly took the news with the optimism that would stay with him is entire life.
"I praised God for being born in this great nation here and having the opportunity to serve him and my country," Holly added.
After basic training and leadership courses, he trained to become a medic.
"Went from there to the 6th Armored Cav in Ft. Meade, Maryland, which had just been reactivated. I was promoted to E3 right out of medical school. And they checked the records and found I went through that leadership preparation school and I was put over the medical company there," Holly said.
His unit was quickly called to the Pentagon to deal with riot control in the nation's capitol.
"This was the flower power time, 1967. You have to experience it to know what a riot is really like. It was something foreign to me. Bricks and bottles flying. They're your own people," Holly recalled.
After about a year, he became at Sgt. and was sent to Vietnam.
"I was sent to the 25th Infantry, HQ company, of the medical battalion area," Holly said.
"I went to Cu Chi, South Vietnam. The first night, we had mortar rounds, rocket rounds coming in there. What I remember most the whole time I was over there, when one of those things go off near you, is the intense heat, it makes you nauseated," Holly added.
"I didn't spend long there, I was E5 so they put me as a squad leader. And 'bout all we was doing was waiting to be reassigned to companies there. So in my off time, I went up to the aid station," Holly said.
He asked to be assigned there and the company commander gave him the green light.
"We were right off the helipad. And we had casualties almost like it was MASH on TV.
They took care of wounded Americans and Vietnamese.
"I've put in more stitches than a whole lot of these doctors have, dig out metal. I've taken bullets or shrapnel out of everything from a little bitty baby to an old-old mama-san," Holly said.
"I worked on an 18 man medical team that was airlifted in when some camp around may be overrun. We'd take care of casualties. I was a medic on ambush patrol when they sent new people in and they had to get experience before they were sent to another company," Holly recalled.
He spent a lot of time on ambush patrol, which put him in the field often.
"I've seen every kind of wound. Some lived. Most did not," Holly said.
Holly escaped with only two minor shrapnel injuries.
"It was an experience I won't forget. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I don't wish any one to have to go into combat. It's a terrible ordeal," Holly said.
"You just don't fit into society when you come back. Because you have gone back to survival state. And you're dangerous," Holly said.
"But I got back whole and I thank God for that," Holly said. "You come back and you know you don't belong and try. But that's the only way you get over it is with God's help. He healed me."
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