7 Fascinating Facts About Robert Mueller's Time As A Vietnam Marine
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Depending on which oversimplified media narrative you prefer, Robert Swan Mueller III is either Americaâs Last Best Hope Against Despotism, or heâs a Power-Drunk Deep State Conniver Hellbent On Getting The President. But before he became the polarizing âspecial counselâ tasked with investigating President Donald Trumpâs campaign and its possible connections to Russia, and before he ran the FBI for 12 years under two presidents from different parties, Mueller was another freshly-minted looie traipsing around Vietnamâs DMZ, directing Marines to fire and maneuver around their North Vietnamese enemies.
Like most memes of our age, Muellerâs past as an officer of Marines has been bandied about in media but rarely explored in any depth. That chang ed this week with Wiredâs publication of âThe Untold Story of Robert Muellerâs Time in Combat,â a long, deep dive by national security reporter Garrett Graff that cornered Mueller and many of his former Marines for firsthand recollections of an affluent Princeton grad who chose combat duty in Vietnam and proved himself under on a bloody tour during the Tet Offensive and its aftermath, earning a Bronze Star with V and a Purple Heart.
Will it change your opinion of the job Muellerâs currently doing? Probably not. Will it complicate your opinion on the man? Very possibly. Hereâs some of the stuff we learned from Graffâs reporting:
1. Mueller played hockey in prep school with future Secretary of State John Kerry.
Hereâs one for all you conspiracy buffs: Before signing up to join the Corps, the well-heeled Mueller âattended St. Paulâs prep school in Concord, New Hampshire, where the all-boys classes emphasized Episcopal ideals of virtue and man liness. He was a star on the lacrosse squad and played hockey with future US senator John Kerry on the school team.â
Depending on your point of view, Kerry and Mueller growing up together is either poetic because theyâre in cahoots with partisan media in a grand Hillary-loving conspiracy to bring down Trump, or itâs poetic because theyâre both combat-decorated veterans who volunteered for service, yet got swift-boated as craven crooks by partisan media.
3. He was NPQd the first time he tried to join the Marines, and he had to wait a year to try again.
âIn mid-1966,â Graff writes, âMueller underwent his military physical at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyardâ:
This was before the draft lottery began and before Vietnam became a divisive cultural watershed. He recalls sitting in the waiting room as another candidate, a strappi ng 6-foot, 280-pound lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles, was ruled 4-Fâ"medically unfit for military service. After that it was Muellerâs turn to be rejected: His years of intense athletics, including hockey and lacrosse, had left him with an injured knee. The military declared that it would need to heal before he would be allowed to deploy.â
So Mueller got married, took a masterâs degree in international relations, and reapplied for a billet for OCS at Quantico, shipping out in 1967 â" âjust before Donald Trump received his own medical deferment for heel spurs,â Graff notes.
3. At first, everybody was pretty sure the new Lt. was just another tool.
After infantry training with the Corps and the Army, Mueller headed downrange as just another green butter-bar. He inherited a âdecimatedâ platoon in Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, full of seasoned survivors of a grueling campaign at Dai Do, near the DMZ. âThey might have had a colleg e education, but they sure as hell didnât have common sense,â Colin Campbell, a mortarman in the company, told Graff. Mueller initially seemed like no exception:
William Sparks, a private first class in Hotel Company, recalls that Mueller got off the helicopter in the middle of a rainstorm, wearing a raincoatâ"a telltale sign that he was new to the war. âYou figured out pretty fast it didnât help to wear a raincoat in Vietnam,â Sparks says. âThe humidity just condensed under the raincoatâ"you were just as wet as you were without it.â
Still, the Hotel Marines â" from farms in Oregon, plantations in Mississippi, and factory lines in Ohio â" were intrigued by the new Princeton and Ranger School officer, who totally didnât have to be there. âWord was out real fast â" Ivy League guy from an affluent family. That set off alarms. The affluent guys didnât go to Vietnam thenâ"and they certainly didnât end up in a rifle platoon,â says VJ Maranto, a corporal in H Company. âThere was so much talk about âWhyâs a guy like that out here with us?â We werenât Ivy Leaguers.â
Their prime fear: That he was out for glory, and willing to risk their lives to do it.
4. A month into his tour, Mueller had to lead the platoon through a hellish, costly jungle assault and quickly earned his Marinesâ respect.
When called to support another company in trouble near a North Vietnamese bunker system on Mutterâs Ridge, Muellerâs Marines slogged through dense vegetation and ran down their ammo as enemy gunners swarmed. At one point in the battle, Mueller personally recovered two seriously wounded Marines and helped patch them up for evac. After a full day of fighting, the NVA pulled back. 13 Marines had been lost, but theyâd killed an enemy company commander âand had virtually decimated his staff,â the Corps later reported.
Mueller, among others, was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery; his troops say it was well-earned, along with their respect. âThe minute the shit hit the fan, he was there,â one said. âHe performed remarkably. After that night, there were a lot of guys who wouldâve walked through walls for him.â
5. Mueller passed up chances to be a typical tool of a platoon commander.
The battle for Mutterâs Ridge had jarred plenty of the surviving Marines. One of the dead, Lance Cpl. Robert Cromwell, was a popular platoon mate who had just met his newborn daughter on an R&R trip to Hawaii. A close friend of his, companymate Bill White, âtook Cromwellâs death hard; overcome with grief, he stopped shaving. Mueller confronted him, telling him to refocus on the mission aheadâ"but ultimately provided more comfort than discipline. âHe couldâve given me punishment hours ,â White says, âbut he never did.ââ It was the sort of thing youâd expect from a Marine J.O. who put mission orientation, and mental wellness, before garrison hygiene.
6. Oh yeah, he also got shot in a firefight and kept fighting.
April 1969 â" when U.S. combat deaths in Vietnam first exceeded the total death count in the Korean War â" was especially tough for Muellerâs Marines. A series of engagements culminated that month in H Company repelling an NVA ambush that was especially intense:
At one point, Mueller was engaged in a close firefight. The incoming fire was so intenseâ"the stress of the moment so all-consuming, the adrenaline pumping so hardâ"that when he was shot, Mueller didnât immediately notice. Amid the combat, he looked down and realized an AK-47 round had passed clean through his thigh.
Mueller kept fighting.
âAlthough seriously wounded during the fireÂfight, he resolutely maintained his position and, ably dir ecting the fire of his platoon, was instrumental in defeating the North Vietnamese Army force,â reads the Navy Commendation that Mueller received for his action that day.
That was Muellerâs last direct action in combat. After a few weeks recuperating, he finished his Vietnam tour on the 3rd Marine Divisionâs general staff.
7. A lot of the H Company Marines didnât even know what Muellerâs been up to since Vietnam.
In a particularly striking passage, Graff writes:
The men I talked to who served alongside Mueller, men now in their seventies, mostly had strong memories of the type of leader Mueller had been. But many didnât know, until I told them, that the man who led their platoon was now the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the election. âI had no idea,â Burgos told me. âWhen youâve been in combat that long, you donât remember names. Faces you remember,â he says.
Maranto says he only put two and two to gether recently, although heâd wondered for years if that guy who was the FBI director had served with him in Vietnam. âThe name would ring a bellâ"you know thatâs a familiar nameâ"but youâre so busy with everyday life,â Maranto saysâ¦
Sparks recalls eating lunch on a July day in 2001 with the news on: âThe TV was on behind me. âWeâre going to introduce the new FBI director, Robert â¦ Swan â¦ Mueller.â I slowly turned, and I looked, and I thought, âGolly, thatâs Lieutenant Mueller.ââ Sparks, who speaks with a thick Texas accent, says his first thought was the running joke heâd had with his former commander: âIâd always call him âLieutenant Mew-ler,â and heâd say, âThatâs Mul-ler.ââ
WATCH NEXT:Source: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam