Paul Trujillo arrived in Viet Nam in November of 1970. He was assigned to Gun 4 of Charlie Battery as a cannoneer. At age 28 Paul was older than most of us, however, that seems very young to me now. Paul and I worked the same shift on Gun 4. During Lam Son 719 I had been left behind in Dong Ha awaiting orders to go home on emergency leave. During the time I was there waiting, one of my duties was to meet the incoming helicopters and render any assistance that they might need. It was around the 16th or 17th of February when I met the courier helicopter and Paul was on board. He told me that he was on his way to Phu Bai because his brother Gabriel had been killed and he was going to escort his body home for burial. We got Paul's kakhi uniform out of storage and sent him on his way. I never saw Paul again.
[Fast forward 33 years] While I was reading a book entitled "Six Silent Men" about the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols in Viet Nam, I ran across the name Gabriel Trujillo who was killed in Viet Nam. It all matched up, so I checked the Wall online for additional information regarding Gabriel. When I looked at his name I saw Paul's name right below his. Until that moment I did not know that Paul Trujillo had been killed in Viet Nam on November 4, 1971. With my curiosity in a high state, I decided to try to find any realative of Paul's. I hit pay dirt on my first phone call, and got in touch with a guy that knew Paul's sister, Sylvia Montoya. He told me where she worked and gave me the telephone number. I called her and we had a nice conversation, as nice as it could be under those circumstances.
Last week, while passing through Raton, New Mexico, I called Sylvia and arranged to meet her for lunch. She was a very gracious lady and was very happy to meet someone that had known her brother. We had a nice vist and I took her home. She introduced me to her husband, a WWII Marine who had served at Iwo Jima. Immediately he wanted her out of the way so he and I could "visit". What a character. He allowed me to feel the shrapnel still in his legs, through his pant legs of course. He told me about his family and the the fact that they were Spainards. When I told him I was going on to Texas he told me he didn't like Texas. "Too many wetbacks," he said. We concluded our visit. I got a big hug from Sylvia, and I was on my way.
During the course of my visit with Sylvia, I learned that after Gabriel and Paul's death, another of Sylvia's brothers committed suicide. Later, Sylvia's oldest son, after serving in the first Gulf war also committed suicide. This family has had more than it's share of sorrow, but they maintain a positive outlook. I am honored to have met them.