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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Vietnam War veteran Aubie Camp, middle, bolts in a sign made by the town of Apison to honor his military service with the help of his grandson Jordan, left, as his daughter Lisa, and son Scott stand behind him on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 in Apison, Tenn. Camp served in the United States Marine Corps. in Vietnam from 1965-1966, where he received the Silver Star and a Purple Heart.

Aubie Camp is convinced a prayer he said before daylight on Oct. 30, 1965, on Hill 22 during the Vietnam War saved his life.

Camp and his Alpha company — comprised of 75 Marines — were ambushed at 2:30 in the morning by over 300 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese.

He dove into a gun pit after being injured by hot shrapnel from a grenade explosion. As Camp looked up over the sand bags, he saw 10 to 12 of the enemy coming straight for him.

"I just ducked down and said seven words that I have never forgot. They were: God, please get me out of here," Camp said. "When I got back up and looked over, they weren't coming towards us anymore. I believe it truly was divine intervention. We were all facing death within a minute or less and then they were just gone. Prayer can make all the difference."

Support from above helped mitigate bleak odds of survival as American jets dropped bombs on the enemy along with gunfire from attack helicopters and Puff the Magic Dragon, a gunship with a minigun on it that could fire 6,000 rounds a minute.

Camp earned a Purple Heart and Silver Star from the battle on Hill 22 when he was 19. He believes he was able to react as a result of his tough Marine Corps training at Parris Island and Camp Pendleton that he says turned him from a boy into a man.

BIO

Name: Aubie Camp

Age: 74

Branch of military: U.S. Marine Corps

Years of Service: 1965-1966

"At one point I saw the enemy setting up a 60 millimeter mortar. They were about to knock out our gun with it. I went down the ditch down the side of the hill and got parallel with them. The first two I threw were duds, but the third one blew up and killed seven of them and knocked their gun out.

"The next morning we had 20 dead and 45 wounded. There was 56 of their bodies on the hill and the villagers told the interpreter they carried at least 100 more off. It was really bad. Words just can't describe what that night was like."

Camp, 74, who was a standout and captain of the football team at Ooltewah High School, now resides in Harrison, Tennessee. He is a proud grandfather to granddaughters Scarlett and Ansley, along with his grandson, Jordan. He also has two nephews who just graduated as Eagle Scouts.

At 17 years old he was saved at a Revival at Nelly Head Baptist Church and this December he will celebrate 54 years of marriage with his wife, Sylvia.

Camp was honored this September in Apison, Tennessee, which now has a sign that reads: "Hometown of Aubie Camp. Vietnam 1965-1966. Silver Star and Purple Heart Recipient. U.S.M.C."

Photo Gallery

Vietnam veteran Aubie Camp

Camp still keeps in close contact with friends he served with in Vietnam, which includes Warren Hullander and Mitchell Moore, who both live in Apison now.

"If you have two Marines pass each other they will always say Semper Fi," Camp said. "Always faithful. I have been on trips or around town and feel someone slap me on the back and say 'Semper Fi, brother.' It's a good brotherhood."

A love for his country endures.

"I love seeing our flag," Camp added. "My friend and fellow Marine, Manny, sent me an email the other day and said he saw this American flag flying and tears came in his eyes. He said, 'I just love the red, white and blue.' I wish everybody felt that way."

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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