MT OLIVET, W.Va. (WTRF) – When he got a “draft letter from Uncle Sam”, he had to answer. That’s how Paul Amrhein describes his entry into the Army.
He was in Vietnam at 19-years-old working in transportation.
For the longest time he says he didn’t really talk about his service. Now, he puts on a different uniform and he’s proud to distinguish himself as a veteran.
If you were drafted you went where you were told to go and you did the job that you were assigned, whatever that job was.Paul Amrhein, Veteran
In Amrhein’s case that job was as a movement control specialist.
After working stateside for about eight-months in transportation at Fort Eustis in Virginia, he got his orders to go overseas.
Fort Eustis was a unique place. They had steam engines. They had diesel engines, trains. Of course they had some helicopters and they had some trucks and all the modes of transportation. We were more or less the schedulers of movement.Paul Amrhein, Veteran
While most people got time to familiarize themselves with the climate and terrain in Vietnam, he was almost immediately sent out for his year in the field.
I went out one day, the first day and fired the M-16 and trained with that. Three hours later I was on a plane to the 1st Cav Division.Paul Amrhein, Veteran
Amrhein spent that year in Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry Division, moving around the country eight different times. He explained it as wherever they took the battalion, he went too. Each time making sure all the ammunition, food, water and even mail the men needed went with them. He also ran small airports and areas where supplies were sent to a landing zone, or LZ.
You had to make sure you had the helicopters, the airplanes, the trucks and all those things in place. Then you had to have protection for all those things.
You could have an LZ that got 500-rounds of ammunition yesterday and doesn’t have any today to protect themselves. So, you had to get things to the people that needed it.Paul Amrhein, Veteran
Moving around so much, Amrhein said there was danger. He survived rocket and mortar attacks and simply said there were some tough times.
We were 18, 19, 20, 21-year-olds and there isn’t an 18, 19, 20-year old that’s afraid of anything and that’s why they sent us. If you got a job to do you support your guys that’s with you. You do your job.
I saw guys come in that were scared to death. Literally shaking in their boots. Three or four days later they went out in a black bag.Paul Amrhein, Veteran
Most importantly, his detachment rotated in and out safely.
We had an 11-man detachment and everybody rotated in and everybody went home. That was the most important thing is everybody got to go home. No one lost their life in that 11-man detachment.Paul Amrhein, Veteran
After a year in Vietnam, Amrhein came home. He spent several more months at Fort Lee before being discharged in 1969. During that time he was part of the Honor Guard, something Amrhein would become involved in years later.
When I come back I forgot about everything and fortunately I was one of those that was able to do that.Paul Amrhein, Veteran
Now, Amrhein said he’s able to wear his veteran hats and talk about his service, but that was not always the case.
He hopes people understand what a sacrifice veterans make, no matter how they ended up in the military.
We didn’t go over there because we wanted to. We went because our nation called and as in past wars; World War II, World War II, Korea, when the nation called you went to defend your country.
Most people do not realize that when you take the oath to join the service you’re signing a blank check up to and including your life. No ifs, ands, or buts.Paul Amrhein, Veteran
Of those 11 men in Amrhein’s detachment, he still keeps in touch with a few of them. He also just got back from a huge reunion of the 1st Cavalry Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
He is married with two children. While his career was as a salesman, he became very involved in the community as well.
Amrhein is a proud member of the Moundsville Veterans Honor Guard and the Mt. Olivet Lions Club. Through both organizations he’s been able to give back to his fellow veterans and others who may be in need.