KECHI, Kan. (KSNW) — In 1966, Paul White, along with the majority of his high school graduating class, was drafted. Originally from Texas, he trained in the swamps of Louisiana (the place he jokingly refers to as “Little Vietnam”) before deploying with a medical unit later that year.

“I was assigned to the 25th Med, Infantry. We were stationed right out near the air base, oh, bombing every night, you know, fighting every night,” White said.

Primarily stationed in Pleiku, White would take part in hundreds of missions serving as a door gunner.

“I was strapped to that M-60 machine gun, hanging out the door of a helicopter,” White said. “It was a good feeling to know you had some protection, you know what I mean, and that you had a reliable weapon.”

Part of a five-man crew, his helicopter would fly across Vietnam—picking up wounded soldiers and bringing them to safety.

“When we got a call on the radio, that’s where we went,” White said.

Often, White’s unit would fly right into the front lines.

“And I had a lieutenant, pilot, that was kinda, man, he didn’t, he didn’t have no fear in him,” White said. “We’d fly into a hot L-Z and pick up somebody that was wounded. You’d go out in a good ship, come back, and it sounded like a sifter where they’d been firing on you.”

Each mission proved a race against time as White worked to load 2-3 wounded soldiers on board amid the heavy enemy fire.

“You know, we’d call in ground fire, they’d lay down some protection for us to go in, instead of waiting until we shoulda went in, a lot of times we went in, and didn’t wait to save the person’s life you know, or go get somebody,” White said.

White’s unit, at times, would have to make multiple trips to the same landing zone due to the number of wounded soldiers on the battlefield.

“That’s a place you try not to remember, especially if you are infantry. It was something, that’s all I got to say. It was something,” White said.

After his tour of Vietnam, White would spend one year at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. There, he would oversee radio school students and advise soldiers who would also eventually deploy to Vietnam.

“It was risky, but I was blessed to come back. A lot of my classmates that went over with me, they never came back,” White said. “They never came back.”

White would spend two years in the Army and 11 years in the Army National Guard. He would eventually come to Kansas, get married, and work for Beechcraft, Boeing and Evergy.

If you would like to nominate a veteran for our Veteran Salute, email KSN reporter Hannah Adamson at