Spec. 5 Ronald L. Murphy - Vietnam Veteran

Ron was a farm boy. To him, basic training was no harder than the chores he'd grown up doing every day. Going from Michigan to the steamy jungles of Vietnam, however, was another matter. As an M-60 gunner he spent lots of time in the jungle while he was "in-country." One type of operation was to set up an ambush. His company would enter the jungle at night to lie in wait for the Viet Cong, hoping to wipe out any who happened by. Then there were the campaigns, 30-day stretches where the soldiers established a base in the jungle itself. In a modern version of "circling the wagons," their four "tracks," with guns pointed outward, were parked around the perimeter of their base. Between the tracks they built bunkers. Claymore mines, concertina wires and trip wires  to provide illumination when triggered completed the perimeter. Inside, the men built bunkers for themselves. Through three I.E.D. explosions under his track and battles large and small, Ron gave a year of his young life to the army. Then, like many war veterans, Ron locked his experiences inside himself. 

But the Vietnam War produced an additional burden for its veterans to bear. Like many others, Ron carried a guilt for his service in Vietnam when the returning soldiers were reviled and disrespected by the citizens of the country to which they had given part of their lives. Then, in 2011, Ron reconnected with his sergeant, Cliff Miller. Cliff had written a book entitled Out the Wire that recounted incidents when the soldiers on campaigns left their base to fight.  This book and the passage of 40 years allowed Ron to let go of his unjustified guilt and to see that what he did in Vietnam was what all good soldiers are asked to do. With Cliff he could laugh, cry and, finally, heal.

JoAnne P. Miller