From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 12:54:52


                  by Knight-Ridder News Service 
FORT BENNING, Ga.--It was a long, sweet embrace in which the Rev. Joan 
SalmonCampbell wrapped her soldier son. 
     Several seconds passed before she stepped back and held her son's face 
in both her hands.  There he was: Lt. Paul J. Salmon, 24, West Point class 
of '94, now an Army Ranger.  Alive, in one blessed piece. 
     Both knew it was almost otherwise.  Nine days had passed since the 
ordeal of Army Ranger trainees in the Florida swamp, nine days since he had 
been hauled from the water, dripping and virtually lifeless. 
     But somehow they had revived him: buddies pounding on him with CPR, 
doctors crowding over him in an emergency room.  Four others had not been 
so lucky. 
     It was only a miracle the dead did not number five and the toll did 
not include Paul Salmon. 
     Salmon, along with family members who had driven for hours from their 
home in East Cleveland, Ohio, to see for themselves that he was alive and 
well, described the catastrophe. 
     Salmon had been working in the swamp with the other Ranger trainees 
building rope bridges to help his men negotiate the water. 
     He indicated that he was immersed in water that was at times so deep 
that he could not touch bottom.  He was held up by a life vest he was 
     He said he "basically burned out."  And the encounter with 
unexpectedly deep and cold water was too much. 
     He doesn't remember exactly what happened.  At one point he became 
convinced that he was on solid ground, though he was not.  "I kind of fell 
asleep, and I woke up in the hospital with six doctors around my bed." 
     He said the last thing he remembers is being grabbed by a fellow 
Ranger trainee, Capt. John D.  Fickel, as he lost consciousness and slipped 
into the water. 
     The Army said that Salmon had been stricken with hypothermia. 
     "I gotta give God all the grace for me coming back," he said. 
     (The Rev. Joan SalmonCampbell was moderator of the 201st General 
Assembly [1989].) 
                          # # # 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
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