Salute to Veterans: West Linn husband, wife help others with service
Over decades of military service, Paul and Mandi Wall have focused on serving others.
Paul, who was born in Liverpool, England, but has lived much of his life in Canada and the United States, joined the Army in 1984 and served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. He said he initially joined for the excitement and the chance to see the world.
Mandi comes from a military background, with her father serving in the Air Force while she and her brother participated in junior ROTC during high school. She enlisted in the Navy in 1990 and served six years as an electronics technician. After several years away from the service, during which she had kids and became a nurse, she joined the Army, knowing they'd help pay for her Bachelor's degree. She's now in her 19th year of military service, working in the intensive care unit at the 394th Field Hospital.
The Walls married four years ago and now live in West Linn.
Paul spent most of his time with the Army in Latin America, jumping out of planes to secure runways for conventional forces. After leaving the military, he began working as a general contractor in the Portland area. This year, however, he put his military experience to use by helping evacuate residents from the war zone in Ukraine.
In the spring, Paul and another U.S. veteran from Wisconsin formed Global Augmentation, a nonprofit group of 12 veterans helping people in war zones. Paul has gone to Ukraine twice since the war broke out in February. On the first trip, Paul and other volunteers delivered food and supplies to people in Lysychansk and Donetsk in the Donbas region. They helped evacuate around 200 people to safer parts of the country. On his second trip, which lasted five weeks from mid-August through September, he helped evacuate 311 people out of Bakhmut.
"We'd go in and get them (Ukrainian civilians) under sometimes pretty heavy artillery fire," he said. "We're there to load the people up as quickly as we can because the shells are still coming, and you just hope one doesn't land on you. Then we would take them to Pokrov, where there was an evacuation train."
While Mandi doesn't like to think of the danger Paul is in while in Ukraine, she knows he has the skill set to help and understands his drive to do so.
"One thing I fell in love with was Paul's desire to help people," she said.
It's a desire she holds as well, and one she feels is inherent to most people serving in the military.
"It's an obviously unjust war. These people were just living their lives, and Russia decided to invade their country," Paul said. "It felt like a very human thing to go and help."
Mandi said she felt the same way on a recent mission to Tunisia, where U.S. Army reserves were helping to train special forces. The Tunisian soldiers she worked with told her they just wanted to live in peace.
While she cared for soldiers as a nurse in Tunisia, Mandi feels she made the most significant impact when working with the inspector general to help other soldiers become better at their jobs. If she joins Paul on one of his trips to Ukraine, Mandi said she'd most like to provide medical care and comfort to the evacuees who desperately need it.
Editor's note: This story appears in A Salute to Veterans, a special publication in print and online by Pamplin Media Group to celebrate the stories of veterans.
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