Today’s veteran: Ed Doyle, 85
Born: New York City
Residence: St. Marys
Service: Army, 26 years
Rank: Sergeant major
Recognitions: Distinguished Service Cross; Purple Heart Medal; Bronze Star Medal; Combat Infantryman Badge; Korean Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal
Duty stations: Korea (two times); Vietnam; Germany; Holland; Congo; Afghanistan; Israel; Fort Benning
His story: The Korean War had just broken out when Ed Doyle completed his Army Ranger training.
He volunteered for the rigorous training to challenge himself physically, with no idea how it would shape his Army career.
“I thought it would be worthwhile,” he said. “I really learned something about myself.”
He arrived in the Korean peninsula just as the fighting escalated, forcing American troops to retreat because they were facing overwhelming numbers.
“I got to Korea in time for the Chinese to get involved,” he said. “It was very savage. Very difficult.”
He earned a Bronze Star Medal in Korea for helping a wounded soldier. He also earned a Purple Heart Medal for shrapnel wounds to his face during the intense fighting.
“It was a terrible experience,” he said. “The only thing that saved our lives were the fighter bombers. They put the ordinance down where it was needed. They saved our bacon.”
He volunteered for a second tour of duty in Korea where he and other soldiers parachuted behind enemy lines to disrupt the Chinese communications systems. After they completed their missions, they had to work their way through enemy lines to safety.
He returned to Fort Benning, where he decided to re-enlist. In 1960, he was part of a NATO Rapid Reaction Force stationed in Europe. He was sent to Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan, where his job was to set up listening stations to monitor Chinese communications.
“The Chinese didn’t like us listening in on their electronic conversations,” he said.
His unit was also sent to the Belgian Congo to rescue American missionaries caught in the middle of a civil war. The experience made him understand the sensitive nature of some of his missions.
“I figured I’d be soldiering,” he said. “I enjoyed it immensely.”
After he returned from Europe, Doyle was recruited into Army intelligence, where he took additional training, including attending a language school before he was sent to Vietnam. He worked for a unit directly under the command of the president.
“We did missions that were ordered by the president of the United States,” he said.
His work in Vietnam was classified, but Doyle said he managed to return home “unhinged,” though he did get his jaw broken when he was hit in the face with the rifle butt by an enemy soldier.
“I went down, but I maintained consciousness,” he said. “I shot and killed him.”
Doyle left the Army after serving in Vietnam, with memories of participating in two wars.
“They were different wars,” he said. “They were fought different ways.”
Our Veterans runs Wednesdays. Contact Gordon Jackson at email@example.com or at 912-464-7655 to suggest a veteran for a column.