Father Bauer, now on the staff of his childhood parish in Highlandtown, is among a half-dozen Catholics featured in “Maryland Vietnam War Stories,” a 3-hour documentary airing over as many nights, May 24-26, on Maryland Public Television.
Father Bauer was among the participants who attended a recent advance screening, where a fellow veteran noticed his clerical collar and approached him during a break.
“A total stranger,” he related, “came up and said, ‘Let me tell you a story.’ He shared that when he was without a rosary, he would pray it using the 5 holes on each side of his M-16. “MPT interviewed hundreds of veterans for this series. I told them I was not a hero.”
Redemptorist Father John Bauer provided spiritual support to members of the U.S. military services during the Vietnam war. (Courtesy Maryland Public Television)
Commissioned from West Point in 1959, he spent 30 years as an infantry officer, including two tours in Vietnam.
“I have been a company commander in combat and lost many wounded and killed in action,” Phillips told the Catholic Review in an email. “After a battle it was routine for two chaplains, one Protestant, one Catholic, to come to the unit as soon as possible. The Protestants would man the lines while the RCs (Catholics) would have a brief service, then vise versa. Chaplains were a valuable part of the fighting force. They carried no weapons, dug their own foxholes, and ministered to the dying and wounded, all while exposed to enemy fire.”
Born and raised in South Baltimore, McNeir retired from the Marine Corps as a Master Sergeant. His Vietnam duty included two 13-month tours, in 1963-64 as a radio operator, and in 1967-68 as an aviation electronics technician and defense platoon sergeant.