(WBRE/WYOU-TV) Judge Tom Munley remembers “My squad leader said they’re coming at us! He was looking through infrared lenses. He said ‘Don’t shoot until I shoot”.
“I could hear them in the rice paddy coming closer and closer. Then he starts firing! Then I fired from 5 or 8 seconds. I turned around to my right. Nobody was there. To my left, nobody was there. They all took off!”
He’d survive that close call to spend 11 months in Vietnam, eventually becoming a squad leader.
But like many Americans. Munley was conflicted about America’s role on the world stage.
So he wrote a letter on toilet paper titled: “Infantryman Asks Why” stating why he didn’t believe in the war. It was published in the Scranton Times.
Munley says while he was ambivalent about the war, he never wavered in his support for his fellow soldiers.
“Trying to help my soldiers stay alive. Because I became a leader after I was there for several months. And I tried to keep my soldiers alive.”
But the dangers of war were ever-present and Munley like a lot of soldiers lost friends in the fight.
“I was talking to one guy, he showed me a picture of his wife and kids. We both got up to walk. Somebody called me and I turned around to walk away. He stepped on a booby trap. I was right next to him. He got blown to smithereens.”
Munley used the G.I. Bill to get his law degree. But his Vietnam experience stayed with him forever. He readily admits it made him a better person– and judge.
“Lawyers used to say to me, ‘Don’t you get upset? Don’t you get nervous before your trials?’ Nervous! How about going out on patrol with people shooting at you. I used to hear bullets whizzing over my head. I got stung by a scorpion, so this stuff is nothing.”
And with “veterans views” he has the platform to keep the promise he made to his fellow soldiers on the other side of the world: we’re all in this together.
“WE answer every veteran’s question. We get hundreds and hundreds of vets every month that call us and we get them help with their benefits, housing help with the Gino Merli Center. So we’re doing our job.”
Watch Judge Munley everyday on Eyewitness News at 5:30 pm