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31 RRetired Master Sgt. Paul Williams spent 26 years in the Marines hearing the battle cry that also conveys enthusiasm: Oorah! But the 77-year-old hasn’t stopped fighting with his retirement, respond-ing to his own internal cry to battle, working to help get benefits for other veterans. “I like to make sure that each veteran that rates benefits, gets benefits,” he says. Williams has lived for the past 40 years in Porters Neck with his wife of 57 years, Doris. He enlisted in 1956, serving in the Vietnam War. He retired in 1982. He received his Purple Heart while serving with the Kilo Co. 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment in Vietnam. The 1st Battalion had been almost anni-hilated in a marketplace when his battalion arrived, he says. “We were walking down this pathway and all of a sudden the enemy just cut loose on us,” he recalls. “They ambushed us and I got hit.” He was wounded by shrapnel and bandaged by a Hospital Corpsman. “You can tell when it has hit you because it’s hot and it burns your flesh,” Williams says. He got up and kept going, despite the burning, no painkillers in sight. “It heals itself up,” he says. “When you’re in combat, you have to impro-vise. … I was too busy trying to save my life.” Today the Virginia native says he respects the Purple Heart he received for what it represents. “Anyone who gets one — I take my hat off to them — because they deserve it. They put their life on the line for their country. They gave part of their body for their country. I admire anyone who does that,” he says. Raised in Amherst County, Virginia, Williams traveled the world with his family while in the Marines. Williams served during pivotal historic events including the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in 1961 and the Tet Offensive in Vietnam — the 1968 counterattack that held off the enemy while also inflicting heavy casualties, marking a turning point in the war. After his military retirement, Williams worked as a health inspector at the Brunswick Nuclear Plant outside Southport for 12 years, retiring in 2000. He still occasionally has flashbacks to his days in Vietnam, a holdover of his post-traumatic stress disorder. “It’s an instantaneous combustion that just goes off in your head,” he says of a recent episode that occurred during a church service, leaving him quiet, upset by the drumming sound that reminded him of explosions. Williams receives disability compensation from the military. He attributes some of his health problems, including prostate cancer — currently in remission — to his exposure to Agent Orange, an herbicide used to kill foliage in Vietnam. Diagnosed with diabetes, his right leg below the knee had to be amputated. Williams says it is important to lend support to veterans, whether or not they’ve received the Purple Heart. “They think a lot of people don’t care about them because they don’t know where to go or who to talk to,” Williams says. “They’re looking for answers to problems they’re having. We can solve each other’s problems if we just hang in there.” Sales & Rentals 800-279-6085 • 910-686-4400 www.figure8island.com Figure eight island Private gated beachfront community Sound Front  17 Backfin Point $2,050,000 Sound Front 49 Pipers Neck Road $5,350,000 Ocean Front  206 Beach Road North $3,495,000 Lots  10 Inlet Hook Ocean Front Building Lot: $1,995,000    7 Comber Road Ocean Front Building Lot: $1,300,000    409 Beach Road North Marsh Front Building Lot: $1,450,000 Judy B. Parlatore, Owner/Broker judy@figure8island.com Kirra Sutton, Broker/Realtor kirra@figure8island.com Jo El Skipper, Broker/Realtor jo-el@figure8island.com Figure Eight Island’s No.1 Sales Team www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com WBM


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