Veteran's service so extensive, he needed extra honor brick

By BOB KEELER | The Reporter | Associated Press | Published: October 5, 2019

WEST ROCKHILL, Pa. — There was already one brick for Capt. Patrick McNulty in the walkway in James Memorial Park that honors West Rockhill veterans.

It wasn't big enough to fit in all the important information, though, so now there's a second, larger one, which was donated by Landmark Monuments, the company that provides the bricks and does the engraving for the bricks in the walkway.

"Silver Star, four Purple Hearts, Ranger, he's got quite a background," said Landmark Manager Patrick Helverson shortly before installing McNulty's new brick.

"The stories he can tell you," said Suzanne Clarke, a member of the West Rockhill Township Park & Recreation Committee. "It blows your mind what he did."

Patrick "Pat" McNulty, a U.S. Army Ranger who has lived on Thousand Acre Road for 48 years, served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1971.

After completing his field artillery officer training, he volunteered for Ranger training, he said.

The Ranger training in the winter included breaking through the ice on a pond and going into the frigid water, he said.

There wasn't much sleep time during the training, he said.

"We averaged two hours a night for the entire seven weeks of the course," McNulty said.

His weight dropped from about 175 to 135 pounds during the training, which included a minimum of food, he said.

"Everybody was losing like about 30, 40 pounds because you were on the go 22 of the 24 hours a day," he said.

The Silver Star is the third-highest military combat award presented to members of the U.S. armed forces, according to Department of Defense information.

Although his Silver Star was awarded years earlier, he didn't know about it until he was presented with it in 2017, 50 years after the battles for which he was presented the honor took place, McNulty said.

While planning to go to a military reunion, he talked to his unit historian, who told him he'd been awarded a Silver Star, he said.

"What Silver Star? I had no idea," was McNulty's response.

Two of the injuries for which he received Purple Hearts came on the same day in November of 1967 during fighting at a North Vietnamese Army stronghold near the Laos/Cambodian border, he said.

McNulty, a first lieutenant at the time, was a forward observer in the fighting in which another lieutenant was killed, after which the captain went to recover the body and also was killed, McNulty said.

After getting his first injury when he was hit by mortar, he continued fighting, then was later hit by grenade fragments, he said.

"I was there, spitting up blood and trying not to get blood on the uniform," McNulty said. The reason he didn't want to get blood on the uniform, he said, was because "I wouldn't look good in the casket when I got home."

He was wounded again in January 1968 shortly after returning from hospitalization for the November 1967 wounds, he said.

That time, he was hit several places by a round of mortar fire, he said.

"That one really put a bunch of holes in me," McNulty said.

He still has arm injuries from those wounds, as well as a plastic eye to replace the one he lost that day, he said.

West Rockhill Park & Recreation Committee member Maggie Oliver was the go-between to help get the new brick after the committee heard about McNulty, she said.

"I just reached out to Landmark, since the Silver Star is such an honor and there's so few, asking them if they would be willing to donate the brick, and they were very gracious in doing so," Oliver said.

Engraved bricks in the walkway are available to be purchased in two sizes — 4 inches by 8 inches, which can have three lines of text with up to 13 characters per line, or 12 inches by 12 inches, which can have six lines of text with up to 18 characters per line. The cost of the bricks is $75 for a smaller one and $125 for a larger one.

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