Paul Murry

Paul Murry admires the flag that flew atop his minesweeper.

SHREVEPORT, La -- November 19th, 1967 was the day Paul Murry returned home from his second deployment to the Vietnam War. It was quite the 21st birthday gift in itself. But he received something more from his minesweeper boat's signalman.

‘He said that I might want to keep something to remember this 11 months by,” Paul said hoisting a framed and folded American flag that flew from the boat's mast.

Paul was the radioman aboard the minesweeper that patrolled along the Vietnamese Coast in the South China Sea. But eliminating enemy mines wasn’t all they did.

“Our responsibility during that time was searching sampans,” Paul said.

Sampans were small commercial type boats that could be carrying weapons, munitions and other supplies for the enemy.

“So every time you went alongside something, you were aware that that that was always the probability that we could be the target,” Paul said.

“We did have one incident before we encountered a coastal freighter that would not stop. And we had to fire upon it to get it to stop,: Paul continued.

A group from Paul’s boat, including a south Vietnamese officer, went aboard to inspect. The boat passed. But three weeks later, Paul says another patrol encountered the same ship.

“They were offloading supplies and materials. And they called in some aircraft and they took it under fire and destroyed it.”

The scary uncertainty about those encounters affected Paul.

“I took all the night watches. Nine months of night watches," Paul said. "Maybe that's the reason why I don't sleep today.

"But I just had an aversion -- a fear -- of dying in my sleep. I did not want to be killed in my sleep,” Paul explained.

The US had not yet gotten involved in Vietnam when Paul joined the Navy out of Fair Park High School in 1964. So he was puzzled by those orders for RVN.

“I asked one of the instructors and he says, 'Oh, that's that's the Republic of Vietnam.' And he says, 'It looks like you're going to go over.

"I'd never heard of Vietnam. But you find out. You find out," Paul added. "I'm a country boy. I was reared here in Louisiana. Pine trees and all that.”

Of his war service, Paul said, “I did what I was instructed to do. Followed the orders. I went to work every day. I did my work to the best of my ability and I supported my government's efforts to try to bring a sense of freedom to those people there.”

Paul was in the Navy 14 years. The reason he joined was to learn a trade. And the electronics training he took in the Navy paid off when he became a civilian, working for companies like Time Warner Cable and Halliburton back here at home.

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