Valor Friday

| June 21, 2024 | 16 Comments

Paul Mahar in Vietnam

The US Army’s 27th Infantry Regiment are known as the “Wolfhounds.” Though there were 27th Infantry Regiments raised during both the War of 1812 and the Civil War, the current incarnation of the 27th Infantry dates to 1901. They saw combat in the Philippine Insurrection, before being part of the American Expeditionary Force sent to Russia just after WWII during their civil war. It was there, as the men of the 27th Infantry tenaciously pursued Bolsheviks the enemy gave them their nom de guerre “Wolfhounds.”

The 27th Infantry was then part of the famous Tropic Lightning Division, the 25th Infantry Division, and were posted to Hawaii. There on 7 December 1941 they were some of the first Americans to return fire on the Japanese during their surprise attack that Sunday morning. Subsequently, the unit saw significant action in the Pacific Theater during the rest of the war.

The Wolfhounds were at the fore once more when they were some of the early reinforcements sent to South Korea when the North invaded in 1950. We’ve previously talked about some of the 14 Wolfhounds to have earned the Medal of Honor, Reginald Desiderio and Lew Millet both got theirs for actions in Korea.

It was also in Korea that 1st Lieutenant (later Colonel) David Hackworth would start his illustrious career as a leader of irregular guerrilla forces. He led the 27th Wolfhound Raiders in Korea, then formed Tiger Force as part of the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He would ultimately receive two Distinguished Service Crosses, an astonishing ten (10) Silver Stars, a Distinguished Flying Cross, eight Bronze Stars (7 w/ “V” for valor), eight Purple Hearts, and 34 Air Medals (one w/ “V” for heroism).

Hackworth’s story is worth its own article, but today’s is about a man named Paul Mahar. His story is most unique. I’m reposting an article from the Wolfhound Pack, the US 27th Infantry Regiment Historical Association;

The Wolfhound Who Never Was
by Howard Landon McAllister 

Most of the men who served in Company A, Second Wolfhounds in 1967 knew a soldier from New Jersey called Frank L. Clouse, Jr. But there never was a Wolfhound in the unit with that name. The man who used the name for 406 days as a member of a rifle company in combat was Paul G. Mahar, and his story may rank as the strangest story in Tales of the Wolfhounds.

Mahar and Clouse lived near each other on Peck Avenue, a shady street in North Newark, NJ. During the Summer of 1960, two events occurred which marked their lives permanently. The first was when Clouse pushed Mahar into fighting another boy. Apparently Clouse was afraid to fight the other boy himself, and neither of the two fighters really had his heart in it. After both boys had drawn a little blood, Mahar’s opponent quit. The two friends celebrated his new-found reputation as a street fighter by gorging on huge submarine sandwiches. Mahar later recalled the fight as “bailing” Clouse out.

The second incident was later that same summer, when the two 13-year-old friends were wrestling on a street corner. The friendly wrestling match left Mahar with a metal pin in his left forearm for the rest of his life, and it was to create another pivotal event six years later.

In the next few years, their families moved, and the friends drifted apart, although they kept in touch. In November of his senior year in high school, Mahar dropped out of high school. He was later to say, “School and I weren’t doing anything for each other.”

After he left school, he tried to enlist in the Army, but the pin in his arm put an end to that idea. He was 4-F and turned down by the service. A year later, when he registered for the draft, another physical examination reaffirmed the opinions of the doctors who had turned him down the year before.

He had found work in Pittsburgh for the summer of 1965, and at the end of the summer, he returned to New Jersey in time to attend the wedding of his old friend Frank Clouse. Afterwards, Mahar went to work in a New Jersey plastics factory, and Clouse was drafted into the Army in the following year, 1966.

In September of 1966, Mahar answered a knock on his door. It was Clouse, in his green Army uniform.

“I knew he would eventually come to see me,” Mahar wrote in 1993, in his brief memoir called Scattered Shots. “It was Frank’s way, and the nature of our friendship, and he was still my friend. Frank was usually the one with the ideas, and he usually started to make plans, at least in his mind, and if he got stuck he depended on someone else to bail him out—sometimes me.”

This time, it was more serious than a childhood fistfight. Clouse told Mahar that he couldn’t leave his wife and go to Vietnam. Clouse was already AWOL from the Army, and had been since 5 September, when his leave ran out. “It was Act One of the same old story,” Mahar wrote. “We didn’t even have to rehearse.”

Clouse had made it through basic training at Fort Dix, and AIT at Fort Polk, LA. But he had not planned on Vietnam. For two days, the two discussed his plight. Later Mahar was to say, “neither Frank nor I rewrote the scripts of our youth.”

“We talked more, and worked out a plan.” Clouse changed the penciled-in height and weight in his 201 file. He had been given his records when he left Fort Polk, with instructions to hand the file over at his next duty station in South Vietnam. Mahar destroyed Clouse’s ID card, and had his hair close-cropped by a local barber. He was prepared to tell the Army he had lost the ID card, knowing that a replacement would bear his photo, signature and fingerprints instead of those of Clouse.

Two weeks later, after a second haircut, Mahar reported in at Fort Dix as Clouse. The conspirators had worked out a simple plan. Mahar would use the pin in his arm to get a medical discharge. He would only have to impersonate Clouse for a short time. The Army would soon see that a mistake had been made, he would be sent home, and they would both be free to continue with their lives. The only problem was that the plan did not work.

Mahar was housed in a barracks with other soldiers who had been judged to be disciplinary problems, and the misfits were outprocessed for Vietnam as fast as possible. Five days later, on 1 November 1966, Mahar was standing on the tarmac at McGuire Air Force Base which adjoins Fort Dix. He was handed a pack of cigarettes by an Army sergeant, who gently but firmly pushed him up the ramp into a C-141. The plane was soon airborne, winging westward toward Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. He would not see the United States again for 406 days. After a refueling stop in Alaska, the aircraft flew on to Vietnam.

Mahar arrived in Vietnam without a day of military training. He was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi, where he and other replacements were immediately sent to the five-day orientation course at the “Tropic Lightning Academy,” as it was called by the soldiers.

At the orientation, Mahar realized the gravity of his situation, and he paid attention to every word from the instructors. He knew it was important to absorb a soldier’s skills as fast as he could. His life would depend on it. Later he remembered being given the small handbook for U.S. Forces in Vietnam. The little book became his bible, and he read and reread it over and over the first month he was in Vietnam.

The last night of the orientation was spent on an uneventful ambush patrol a short distance outside of the Cu Chi base camp, and the next day Mahar and Robert Dunlap, a new-found friend from Bellingham, Washington were among the replacements sent to Company A of the Second Wolfhounds. It was November 1966, and shortly after the company had seen considerable fighting in Operation Attleboro, in which the company commander, Captain Robert Foley, and Private First Class John F. Baker, Jr. had won the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Dunlap and Mahar were assigned to the third platoon of the company, and Mahar was unnerved to hear the platoon being called the “dead man’s platoon.” They spent their first night in a sandbagged position in the shadow of Nui Ba Den, the steep mountain rising up from the rice paddies of Tay Ninh Province. Mahar, who had first fired a rifle only a few days before in the orientation course, remembered many years later the dark shadows he saw that night appeared alive to him, as if they had a life of their own. His rifle lay within easy reach of his hand, and he gripped a grenade in his left hand all night long.

His first squad leader was Sergeant Robert Wade, who had won a Silver Star on November 5, and Mahar remembered that Wade was not impressed with his soldiering skills. “I can’t say that I blamed him,” said Mahar. “His job was to get me and the rest of the FNGs in the third platoon combat ready.”

Robert Dunlap, Mahar’s first friend in Vietnam, became his teacher as well, imparting to Mahar the things all soldiers are supposed to learn in basic training and AIT. Time passed, in the peculiar compression of the wartime environment, when days blend into weeks, and soldiers learn to judge time mainly by their geographic location and the danger and difficulty of their duties.

Sergeant Wade, the squad leader who had earned a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts, reenlisted and was reassigned before Christmas, but he had done his job well. He had given all of the members of the platoon a better chance of surviving the war. One of the things he had believed and wanted them to learn was that Wolfhounds were special, and the proud traditions of the unit would provide them a unique identity for the rest of their lives.

Mahar was proud of his new identity, and he recalled an experience from the previous summer, in Pittsburgh, when he had lived in a seedy old rooming house called the Atwood Hotel. The residents called it the “last chance hotel.” Many of them were hopeless alcoholics on a downward spiral of abuse. Mahar befriended them, and listened to their stories of sleepless nights and meaningless days. To them, he became Paul, the young kid who offered friendship without presuming to judge them. In Vietnam, Mahar found a way to relate his new life to that experience in Pittsburgh. The alcoholics in the Atwood Hotel and the Wolfhounds in Vietnam all faced imponderable tomorrows. “Both lived in the present with constant thoughts of survival, and bonded with their peers in an attempt to hold onto pride and a little human dignity,” Mahar was to write in 1993.

On Christmas day in 1966, Mahar watched the Bob Hope show in Cu Chi. Later, he remembered one line of Hope’s monologue, “I’ve been told that Vietnam looks beautiful from the sky…on a Pan Am flight going out.”

After the holidays, Operation Cedar Falls took the Wolfhounds into the Iron Triangle, northeast of Cu Chi. It was enemy territory, with dense foliage, booby traps and tunnels. Like most other Wolfhounds, Mahar carried nearly half half his own weight in ammunition. Running out of ammunition was a cardinal sin in that environment.

Mahar remembered a day in Cedar Falls. The platoon had to get across a canal about 30 meters wide. They found a small Vietnamese sampan, and after three men had swum across the canal with their rifles held over their heads, they established security on the far bank. Then, with three men at a time in the sampan, the boat was pulled back and forth across the canal with ropes.

While Mahar waited for his turn in the sampan, the small boat, with Robert Dunlap and two other men in it, overturned. The three men fell into deep water. Dunlap had two belts of heavy machine gun ammunition draped over his shoulders, Pancho Villa-style, and he struggled to keep his head above water. Mahar saw Richard Parham, always reliable, and always first to act in an emergency, throw off his pack and try to dive into the water to help. Parham struck his head on a thick tree limb, and fell, stunned, on the bank of the canal. Mahar and Lieutenant Gallagher, the platoon leader dove into the water and pulled Dunlap to safety.

Later Mahar received an Army Commendation Medal for going to Dunlap’s assistance. But Mahar would always say the medal belonged to Richard Parham, their friend and comrade who never made it home from the war.

Parham, who was from Modesto, California, died on 30 January 1967. He had been one of the men who had been special figures of support for Mahar during his first days in the unit, along with Rodney Johnson, Fred Haase and Martin Casey. These four men had a special bond with each other. They had undergone airborne training together before being assigned to the Wolfhounds.

Parham died while walking point. He had become squad leader following Martin Casey, who replaced Sergeant Wade. In January 1967, Casey had gone home on emergency leave, and Parham was next in line. Mahar remembered Parham as a confident, take-charge soldier. But the night it happened, disaster struck as the platoon moved to its ambush location . Parham walked point on the left file, and Len Yablonski was point man on the right file. Mahar remembered that he was 15 meters behind behind Parham, and that a soldier named Durham was the same distance behind Yablonski. The platoon leader, Lieutenant Gallagher amd his RTO, Jim Taylor, were between the files about ten meters behind Mahar and Durham.

There was a sudden explosion, and Parham was blown to bits. Mahar observed that there was no hole where Parham had been standing, and he always believed that Parham had been killed by an accidental explosion in the two claymore bags of grenades Parham habitually carried draped over his shoulders. It was the beginning of the Vietnam that Mahar learned to hate—instant death followed by stillness and then nothing more.

A single explosion had produced one soldier’s death, and three wounded. They gathered Parham’s remains. Yablonski would return to the the unit after six months in a hospital in Japan. The injuries of Durham and Taylor sent them to recuperate in the 12th Evacuation Hospital in Cu Chi. For Mahar, it was the first in a series of incidents bringing anguish and pain with the loss of a friend—an experience known only too well by most combat infantrymen. Over the years, the pain diminishes, but it never disappears.

Sergeant First Class John Albert Hamner, of Northport, Alabama, was the 37-year-old platoon sergeant of Mahar’s platoon. Hamner was a father figure to the men of the platoon, and he often told them how he planned to spend his post-retirement days fishing in the streams and lakes of Alabama. “One more year in the Army, and then I’m done,” Hamner would tell them.

On 13 February 1967, Hamner’s luck ran out. The events of the day were imprinted in Mahar’s memory, who carried the radio for his platoon leader, Lieutenant Gallagher. Rodney Johnson, of Knoxville, Illinois, carried the radio for the platoon sergeant. The platoon was searching a heavily booby-trapped area, and everyone was on edge. After hearing an explosion, Gallagher and Mahar ran toward the sound. Hamner had stepped on a mine. Mahar looked down to see the top half of Hamner lying on the ground. The rest of him was gone. The medic gave the platoon sergeant a shot of morphine, and the lieutenant called for a dustoff. Hamner began to speak. He talked of going home, and the great fishing with his wife there. Mahar thought Hamner talked for a long time, but he died before the helicopter arrived. Three days later, Rodney Johnson died from the fragment wounds he had received in the explosion.

Not every infantryman could do it, but Mahar proved to be adept as a tunnel rat, one of the soldiers who went underground to root out the enemy. In later years, he tried to figure out his motivation for it. In his memoir, he was to say, “I’m sure part of the reason I volunteered to enter the tunnels was because I was an untrained soldier [when he went to Vietnam]; but only a small part of me. I know that I needed to prove myself to the other men in the platoon. I had to pull my own weight; that’s one of the better aspects of human nature, but there was more. Self-preservation was involved. Life was then and is now very important to me. I don’t consider myself a hero or a martyr in any form, but my sense of self was the overriding factor in me sending myself underground. It was not acceptable for me to let someone else take a risk instead of me. I didn’t have to do it all, but I had to take my turn.”

“The words are easy enough to remember. ‘the lieutenant wants someone to go down into the tunnel.’ We all heard the request from the Lt. To the platoon–‘I need a volunteer.’ The platoon had plenty of volunteers. I was just one of many. But why did I choose to go? I wondered. My self-imposed new identity wouldn’t accept ignoring the Lt.’s invitation. But what crazy part of me was this? I treated the lieutenant’s request as part of the price I was willing to pay to maintain my new integrity as a Wolfhound and as a soldier.”

Long after the Vietnam war, such words can easily bring a reader to reflect that the Army and the Wolfhounds were fortunate in the fact that Paul Mahar chose to impersonate Frank Clouse in November of 1966.

One of Mahar’s adventures in the tunnels provides some comic relief, although it likely enabled the escape of an enemy soldier.

“I crawled into the tunnel with a flashlight in my left hand and a .45 caliber pistol in my right. I was alone. Good sense remained at the entrance to my new underground world. It didn’t belong in the dark. Rational thought loses direction without natural light to lead the way. Charlie must have heard me entering his home; that’s all I can figure. He left me a present to slow me down, and trust me, it did. It worked slicker than slime on a leech. I was crawling on my hands and knees when I turned a corner and saw Charlie’s surprise directly in front of me, about two feet away. Charlie’s little gift jumped up and made a god awful noise. My heart shuddered, quivered and then leaped into my throat. My new enemy scared the piss out of me. Directly in front of me was a squawking chicken; behind me was my good sense to enter the tunnel. The bird panicked, turned and fled. I froze for a second, trembled, felt relief and then continued to sweat. I returned to my fellow ‘hounds on the surface with a desperate need for sunlight, fresh air and the room to breathe freely in an open space.”

Halfway through his tour, First Sergeant Rutledge moved Mahar to the weapons platoon. It was a legacy from training Frank Clouse had taken at Fort Polk in mortars. Mahar had never seen a mortar, but he could not tell the first sergeant that. The new assignment was a big change from his days in the third platoon. Now he helped set up the 81mm mortars at dusk to fire defensive concentrations before the ambush patrols went out. The mortar crews were also responsible for firing harassment and interdiction rounds at intervals through the night at locations of probable enemy activity.

The new job was physically safer, but Mahar longed to be back with the third platoon, and his friends Robert Dunlap, Gary Pearse, Ben Raby, and Alfred Serna. The bonds formed by mutual trust and shared danger are not broken by reassignment to other units. Long afterward, Mahar would remember and restate his opinions on the qualities of these friends as soldiers. According to Mahar, Pearse and Raby had an adventuresome knack for getting into minor disciplinary scrapes—the kind that later become lifetime topics of conversation among the men who served in a unit. Pearse was to be promoted to staff sergeant and become the platoon sergeant of the third platoon.

It was not the last move for Mahar in the Wolfhounds. Before the end of his tour, when the Army reorganized the infantry battalions to add a fourth rifle company, Mahar was transferred to Company D, the new unit. He stayed in the field far longer than required. He had already extended his time in Vietnam, in order to be released from active duty immediately after he returned to the United States.

“I stayed on line, out in the field, longer than I had to. My last commanding officer, Captain Johnson, a West Pointer, informed me that I could go back to base camp in Cu Chi whenever I gave him the word. I had two weeks left when I told Captain Johnson that I was done. I had enough. I was ready to spend the remainder of my short time waiting back in base camp. My only mistake was in missing the morning helicopter back to Cu Chi. I had to wait for the choppers to return with the evening’s re-supply before I could leave the field for the safety of the rear. I now call my last day in the bush the longest day of my life. I wasn’t any good to my fellow Wolfhounds on my big day. I had booby traps on my mind. Seconds turned slowly to minutes, and minutes turned just as slowly into hours. Time wasn’t traveling fast enough for me. I was on edge and ineffective, and I knew it. I spent as much of the day as possible by myself. There were no unpleasant incidents during my last day in the bush, only the long wait. I was now two weeks away from being Paul Mahar again. I could almost feel the concrete of the city under my feet, back again in good old New Jersey, United States of America.”

When Mahar arrived in Oakland, he was determined to follow instructions and not volunteer any additional information.

“I successfully explained to the clerk that I had extended a month and a half in Vietnam so that I would be discharged from my DEROS, date of rotation. I was soon ready for my mustering out pay, and an airline ticket. I was due, by my calculations, a few hundred dollars. I was counting on the money to help me restart my life, wherever that might be. I had just a few more questions to answer, and a few more forms to fill out and then sign the name Frank L. Clouse Jr. for the last time. I was that close. The clerk told me everything was in order, everything except for one small, tiny detail. He said that I had been AWOL for forty-five days before Vietnam. He said that my AWOL time would have to come out of my pay. Instead of the few hundred dollars I expected, I came out with about sixty. “Sixty dollars is fine,” I told the clerk. “I’m not going to argue about anything. I’m out of the army.” He paid me my money, and I was on my way.“

When Mahar reached New Jersey, he began the process of resuming his real identity.

“Frank told me that he had used a sun lamp during the last months of my tour of duty in Vietnam; his legs were as tanned as his chest and arms. I laughed. I was only dark from the waist up. My legs were baby white. I told Frank that it was hard enough for me to feel secure in Vietnam with my boots off, much less my pants. Frank had prepared himself well for his transformation back to being himself again. “

“I found myself growing tired. I just wanted to give Frank back his dress greens and take a walk, but I knew he needed more. He needed my background information as well. We reversed ourselves. In 1966 Frank taught me all he knew about the Army of Fort Dix, New Jersey and Fort Polk, Louisiana. I was now teaching him about the Army of Vietnam in 1967. I slowly and sadly proceeded to transfer my war time soldier’s identity to Frank.”

“My old friend told me that he couldn’t fake a year in Vietnam. ‘I did,’ I said to myself, but I didn’t say those words out loud. I didn’t want any more friction in my life. I just wanted the whole charade to end. I had just strapped enough baggage on my shoulders during the last year to last a lifetime, more than I even knew. And now I just wanted it to be over.”

It was too much baggage indeed. The friendship soured quickly and they drifted apart.

Mahar began to reclaim his identity as a Wolfhound in 1981, after reading a newspaper article about a group of veterans who met once a week on a nearby college campus in Idaho, near his home in Coeur d’ Alene. Mahar joined the group. A few years later, he began to look for the friends he had served with in Company A. He put advertisements in newspapers and magazines. After placing an ad in USA Today, he received a call from Maggie St. Clair, a news reporter from KSL in Salt lake City, but the station bosses would not touch it.

Doug Clark, of the Spokane Review, wrote a column about him, and finally in 1991, Mahar wrote to Paul Harvey. He was featured on Harvey’s program, The Rest of the Story, on June 25, 1991. After that, he wrote to the Army, and was told his claim would be investigated, but it would take at least two years to process the case. The Board for Correction of Military Records works on a first-come first-served basis. Mahar would not come to the top of the list until the fall of 1993.

“I received a call from Ruben Rivera, who served on the board that reviewed my case. I sent the Army my fingerprints, my dental records, and a list of the people I served with in Vietnam. I also sent them a detailed recollection of some of the events of 1967. Mr. Rivera told me that I would soon be contacted by an agent of the Criminal Investigation Division of the United States Army. He would come to Coeur d’Alene to interview me.”

“I was contacted by Robert W. Collins of the CID, who flew in from Fort Lewis, Washington. We met at the Coeur d’Alene police department for over four hours. During that time Special Agent Collins took my affidavit, fingerprints, picture, and handwriting samples. I liked the man; he was quite courteous and very professional. He told me that he was told that he didn’t have to read me my rights. I was grateful. I told myself it was almost over. I went home and felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Now I just had to sit back and relax and wait for the Army to finish the task.”

On November 24, 1993, the five members of the Army board met to consider the case, titled “Proceedings in the case of Mahar, Paul G. 156-37727.” The board had its work cut out for it. Mahar’s case was not simply a case of correcting a military record. The board had to consider whether criminal activity had occurred, and if so, the nature and effect of it.

In the Nineteenth Century, it was perfectly legal for a soldier to hire or otherwise arrange to have another person perform military service in his place. But by the end of the American Civil War, the practice was discarded and later on it became unlawful. In any case, Mahar’s circumstances went far beyond merely performing duty in his friend’s place, since it involved active impersonation of the friend.

The board reported on Mahar’s actual service in five paragraphs, as follows:

On or about 1 November 1966 the applicant reported to Fort Dix, carrying his friend’s records which he had altered as to height and weight (he was 1inch taller and 15 pounds lighter than his friend), and saying that he lost his military identification card. The applicant explains that while his friend was AWOL he found him a room in a boarding house and tried to help him. At some point it occurred to them that if he reported, pretending to be his friend, the metal plate in his arm might lead to his discharge. However, the scheme did not work; military authorities concluded since he made it that far, he would probably be alright. So, after about 1 week at Fort Dix, the applicant was shipped to Vietnam. He arrived in country on 8 November 1966.

After 5 days of orientation, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry. He served in Vietnam for a total of 406 days, never disclosing his true identity. He learned the duties of an infantryman by on the job training, or to use his words, “by watching the others very carefully.”

His record of service is excellent. He was promoted to private first class, then to specialist (E-4), and then to sergeant (E-5), each in the minimum time allowed. He received no disciplinary action and, in fact was never charged with the 6 weeks his friend had been AWOL. He extended in Vietnam so that he could be released from active duty upon his return to the States.

On 19 December 1967 he was released from active duty at Oakland, California. He returned to New Jersey and turned all his official papers over to his friend. The DD 214 (Armed Forces of the United States Report of Transfer or Discharge) he was given shows that he earned the Bronze Star Medal, for service, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Vietnam Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. Although not shown on the report of separation, he was also awarded the Army Commendation Medal. The records contain a copy of the supporting citation, complete with raised seal and a note that indicates the medal was presented.

The citation, which is in the friend’s name indicates that on 14 January 1967 he was crossing the Saigon River as part of a platoon size element returning from an ambush patrol. Because the river was too deep and the current to strong to permit wading, the men crossed using native sampans. The boat, in which the applicant and two others were crossing was caught by the current and capsized. The applicant made it to shallow water but swam back to save a soldier who had been caught in the current and was struggling downstream. Reaching him, the applicant pulled him out and performed artificial respiration until medical personnel arrived.

The board agreed that such action would indeed require creation of a new record, but that was the direction the board intended to take. The board approved conclusions and recommendations as follows:

  1. Under the law a citizen becomes a soldier by entering into a unique contract with his country. Under such an agreement a soldier can be required to risk life and limb, and be punished if he refuses. Such a formal agreement and ceremony did not occur in this case. Still, there existed between the applicant and his country a unique relationship.
  2. He served in combat; albeit using another man’s name. He followed orders, wore the uniform, carried the weapons and endured the hardships of a soldier. He could have walked away at any time, yet he chose to stay.
  3. There are those who would say that such a relationship born of deceit can never become legitimate; that there is a cloud over his service that can never be lifted. We disagree. It is also commonly said that to every rule there is an exception and, if such can be the case, then this case is an exception to that rule.
  4. While the Board does not approve of the deceptive manner in which he initiated his service, it cannot be denied that he served, and that he served well. In fact, considering his lack of formal preparation, his performance as an infantryman in combat was extraordinary. His rapid promotions and the award and decorations he earned attest to that. From our perspective the quality of his service far outweighs the cloud that hangs over it, and the Board would be remiss in failing to legitimize his services.
  5. The Board’s authority is not limited to the modification of existing records, but extends, in appropriate situations, to the creation of totally new military records. Such would be the appropriate remedy in this case. To fail to do so would be unjust.
  6. Considering all of the circumstances of this case, it would be appropriate to create such military records as would be required to show that the applicant served on active duty in his own name from 1 November 1966 until 19 December 1967; and that he is entitled to the same awards and decorations as listed in paragraph 10 above. To accomplish this the Commander, Army Reserve Personnel Center should be directed to create and maintain a skeleton file in the applicant’s name which includes as a minimum, ad DD Form 214 and the citation he received for saving another soldier from drowning, and a copy of these proceedings. To assist in this the ABCMR staff will prepare and provide by separate cover to the Commander, Army Reserve Personnel Center an appropriately modified version of the aforementioned citation, the appropriated data necessary to prepare a DD Form 214, as well as such other documents as the staff considers essential to this new record.


  1. That the Commander, Army Reserve Personnel Center be directed to create and maintain a skeleton Official Military Personnel File in the name of the individual concerned which includes such documents as are necessary and required to reflect that he enlisted in the Army and entered on active duty on 1 November 1966 and served until 19 December 1967, when he was honorably discharged under the provisions of Army Regulation 635-200, chapter 5, by reason of Secretarial Authority; and that 406 days of his service was performed in Vietnam where he was promoted and decorated.
  2. That the Department of the Army issue to the individual concerned:
    An Honorable Discharge Certificate from the Army of the United States, dated 19 December 1967; a DD Form 214 that summarizes his record of service; a modified rendition of the citation from the award of the Army Commendation Medal; the awards and decorations to which he is entitled.

In a judgment that was monumental as an act of fairness on the part of a government agency, the conclusions and the recommendation, in its several parts, were approved in their entirety. In this way, Paul Mahar regained his identity as a Vietnam War Wolfhound.

They also post the editor’s note;

Paul G. Mahar died on September 21, 2004 at his home in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho at the age of 57. He was survived by his daughter Molly Mahar, his mother Margaret Mahar, two sisters, Maureen Macchio and Frances Calik, and a brother, John Mahar.

Rest in peace, Wolfhound!

Category: Army, Historical, Valor, Vietnam, We Remember

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“American Expeditionary Force sent to Russia just after WWII during their civil war.”


I think that should actually read after WWI if I recall correctly.. Supporting the white Russians vs the Bolsheviks.. Read a good book on the subject, though I can’t recall the name… Russkies never forgot about it, Kruschev even made mention of it at one point during his administration..


DAAYUUM! Hardcore! And a pair of titanium gonads. To swap places going to The Viet of The Nam Times with absolutely NO training, knowing there’s a good chance you won’t come home alive? I’ve got/had some pretty good friends in my life but none of them volunteered to do something that serious for me. Question is, tho…what happened to the Coward Clouse? Can he be found on a stool at the local VFW, holding a copy of his 201 Files, spewing lies about his deeds as a War Hero? PHUQUE HEEM.

I had a GGrandpappy that was a “hired substitute”, taking the place of a rich man for service during the WBTS on the CSA side. GGP was slightly too old for the initial draft and could have avoided service due to his mechanical skills. $300 in gold was a chunk of change in 1862. GGP served in the Army of Tennessee before being wounded and captured in September of ’63. He was a POW in Camp Douglas until July of ’65. The dude that he substituted for was later drafted toward the end of the war into the Home Guard, never seeing any action and lived to a ripe old age, one of the last “War Vets” from Georgia to pass away in 1953. Wonder how many “War Hero” stories he told?

Great story, Mason…Thanks!


KoB, Some of my mom’s family served in that war; her GGF, GGU & her GF. However, they were from Eastern Tennessee. Mom (& her siblings) never got to see their grandfather- he died (1912) 4 yrs before his grandkids started birthing. Their GGUncle passed in 1935- Mom graduated HS in ’34.


If you wrote a movie script of this story, nobody would believe it. Especially the part about how Big Army handled it when the truth came out.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

SGT Mahar deserves every award, ribbon, medal, and accolade for what he did to help out a friend.
“No greater love….”

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

I’ll have to look up more of the history of the 27th Inf Reg.
I served support for the 25th Inf Div (25th Dimension, the Electric Banana Leaf, Schofield Barracks, HI), 88-92.
I don’t recall seeing any signs of, or doing any commo repair work, for the 27th. Doesn’t mean that they might not have been there, I just don’t recall seeing anything of them.

They have (or had) a museum at Schofield. There are/were Wolfhound artifacts there, including Lew Millett’s bayonet.

My visit to it was in 1962, so things may have changed.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

Oh, I know that things have changed. A lot.
The wife and I finally returned to Hawaii for a vacay after 30 years.
We went to Schofield, SO MUCH has been changed.
Stuff torn down.
New stuff built.


I’m going to copy this article and send to a friend of mine who was with the 25th at Cu Chi as a medic. I’ll report back what I hear.


I spoke to my friend. He said he thinks about Vietnam too often, and about a lot of things he doesn’t want to remember as a medic. Was not there at the same time. My other friend who was with the 25th at Cu Chi in 1967 is living in an assisted living facility and it will be awhile before I can talk to him.


Great share about a fellow Wolfhound!

Colonel Millett was the Honorary Regimental Commander. Even in his later years, he was a stud and loved being around other Wolfhounds.

C Co, 3rd BN, 27th IN, Fort Ord, CA 1988 to 1992


This is the best thing I’ve ever read on this site.


Jocko has a huge man crush on COL Hackworth. He’s done several podcasts devoted to him. He considers Hack’s memoir ‘About Face’ the greatest book on leadership he’s ever read (though that was not the books intent).