WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Marine from Rose Hill joined the service when he graduated high school.
The pilot would then find his way to Vietnam.
Retired Major Paul Montague would stay in the jungle for a very long time, as a prisoner of war.
Montague said they flew into an ambush.
“It had so much gunfire that it looked like Christmas, the little sparkly lights on Christmas trees,” Vietnam POW Paul Montague said.
When he was first shot down, Montague says he wasn’t sure if he was dead or alive.
“I woke up in a black, velvet box, and the box was formed by his armor-plated seat being ripped off the bottom of the helicopter and come flying across and perfectly matched mine,” Montague said.
Montague said he could see no light.
“A face appeared to me. I had never seen that face before, but I knew it,” Montague said. “That face told me don’t worry it is going to be okay and I believed him.”
Montague’s wife received a telegram, her husband was killed in action.
She and their children would then mourn him at his funeral.
“She didn’t invite me to the ceremony,” Montague said.
He was alive and was being starved and tortured as a prisoner of war.
Montague said he couldn’t figure out why he was always the target of the man he calls “Farnsworth” and the wire ball.
“If it stays on long enough, you are going to lose something,” Montague said. “That’s terrible, and hurts, but it’s nothing like when they take you out of it, and the pain, the blood starts circulating back into your arms and legs.”
He said he later learned his co-pilot was a traitor and was telling the enemy everything that went on in their cell.
“A liar, a turn coat, I’ll hang,” Montague said. “I’d a killed them if I would have known what they were doing.”
Montague said many of those he calls traitors want forgiveness and continue to ask veterans like him to just forget about it. He says he never will.
When he finally made it home from Vietnam he wanted justice.
“I said what do I got to do, try these people in the press? I had orders to Washington to see the Secretary of the Navy the very next day,” Montague said.
He said he never saw the Secretary of the Navy, he was greeted by a lawyer.
“He said, well, they believe that this nation would have a coup and that they would destroy the nation,” Montague said.
While Montague endured all he did in captivity, his wife never gave up hope her long wait would be over, someday.
“Two weeks shy of five years,” Montague said.
His children would finally get word Daddy was coming home and he remembers well what it was like to see the love of his life again.
“You’ve lost the most valuable thing in the World, and then you have it,” Montague said.
He was on the last plane load of prisoners of war to leave the skies of Vietnam.
Montague said that while he walked with some cowards, he served with even more heroes.