Paul Montague was born in 1934 in Anthony, Kansas. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on August 27, 1952, and served with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, and later in South Korea, before leaving active duty and serving with the Marine Corps Reserve from August 27, 1955 to September 15, 1960. Montague then attended Officer Candidate School at MCS Quantico, Virginia, and was commissioned a 2d Lt on December 10, 1960. Lt Montague next completed flight school and was designated a Naval Aviator in June 1962, followed by service with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 (HMM-364) at MCAF Santa Ana, California, from July 1962 to November 1963, and then in Southeast Asia from November 1963 to December 1964. His next assignment was as a flight instructor at NAS Pensacola from January 1965 to May 1967, and then back to HMM-364 at MCAF Santa Ana until December 1967, when he joined HMM-165 in the Republic of Vietnam. Capt Montague was captured by the Viet Cong when his helicopter went down in South Vietnam on March 28, 1968, and was later moved to North Vietnam. After spending 1,814 days in captivity, Maj Montague was released during Operation Homecoming on March 16, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries and then served several assignments with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS El Toro, California, MCAS Yuma, Arizona, and MCAS Santa Ana, California, before retiring from the Marine Corps on September 30, 1977.
His 1st (of 2) Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165, Marine Aircraft Group Thirty-Six, First Marine Aircraft Wing in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 29 March 1968, Captain Montague was Section Leader of two CH-46 transport helicopters in a flight of four aircraft assigned the mission of inserting a United States Army Special Forces unit and Vietnamese Rangers deep in hostile territory, east of the Ashau Valley. Arriving over the designated area, he skillfully maneuvered his aircraft into the landing zone, disembarked the troops and, although his helicopter was damaged by hostile ground fire, safely departed the zone under heavy automatic weapons fire. Returning to Phu Bat, Captain Montague embarked additional passengers and, disregarding his own safety, proceeded to the area where he landed in the hazardous zone, fully realizing that one United States Army helicopter was forced to abort his approach into the dangerous area and another had crash-landed in the zone due to extensive battle damage. While disembarking the reinforcements, his aircraft was damaged by mortar fragments, and as he lifted from the hostile area, the helicopter came under fire from enemy weapons positions. Subsequently informed that the friendly unit was surrounded by a large enemy force and that a maintenance crew which had previously been inserted into the area required immediate extraction, Captain Montague embarked additional reinforcements and returned to the landing zone for the third time. Undaunted by the hostile fire directed at his helicopter, he landed in the besieged area, disembarked the relief force and embarked the recovery team aboard his aircraft. As he was lifting out of the fire-swept area, his helicopter was repeatedly struck by hostile ground fire. Reacting instantly, he skillfully avoided impacting on the side of a nearby hill and guided his helicopter to a crash landing in a ravine, undoubtedly saving the lives of his crew and passengers. By his courage, resolute determination and selfless devotion to duty despite extreme personal danger, Captain Montague upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.