The Pennsylvania Freemason - May 2020

Page 10

MEMBERSHIP

FROM COMBAT VET TO ADVOCATE Meet Brother Clyde Hoch, Best-Selling Author, Speaker and Avid Volunteer A Fish Out of Water When Brother Clyde Hoch, P.M., first stepped into Perkiomen Lodge No. 595 in 1997, he hardly knew anyone. “I was way out of my element, as I was always shy and

fraternity takes a good man and makes him better, so I strive to be better all the time.”

A Marine in Vietnam

reserved,” he said. “I felt like a fish out of water.”

Three days after graduating from Upper Perkiomen

Clyde suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

High School in 1965, Clyde was on his way to Parris Island,

and traumatic brain injury, which makes it difficult for him

S.C., for boot camp. After being trained in tanks at Camp

to talk to people he doesn’t know. He also tends to be very

Lejeune, N.C., he became part of the Fleet Marine Force and a

uncomfortable in crowds.

Battalion Landing Team. Following two six-month tours on the

“One of the things that made me continue to come back was one particular member of the lodge,” Clyde said. “Brother

Mediterranean Sea, he opted to go to Vietnam to fight for his country.

Thomas Gamon, IV, came to me and talked with me, which made

He served as a tank commander during the Tet Offensive

me feel much more comfortable. If it was not for his friendly

from 1968-1969, the years of the heaviest fighting during which

manner, I don’t know if I would have returned.”

28,679 Americans perished. He was involved in countless fire

Thankfully, he did.

fights. Once, a rocket-propelled grenade passed over his head,

Not only that, but he quickly learned the skill of public

missing him by inches. Still, he did his best to hide his fear and

speaking and went through the chairs – two feats he never

direct his men.

dreamed he’d accomplish. He served as Worshipful Master twice.

Clyde lost two of his best friends in the war. His ticket home

A retired press operator and lifelong resident of Pennsburg,

came in the form of a traumatic head injury sustained when the

Clyde is now a full-time veterans advocate, an award-winning

tank he was commanding hit a land mine. The blast stole some of

author and a documentary filmmaker. He’s also the father of five

his hearing and caused memory loss and violent flashbacks.

daughters and Cooper, his service dog, whom he calls his “big

“Things can change in seconds,” Clyde said.

baby.”

PTSD was poorly understood at the time, so veterans

“Freemasonry is about helping others do what they can,” Clyde said. “It helped me get on a road to start doing this. The

10

like Clyde were labeled shell-shocked, and as a result, socially isolated.

Online Edition www.pagrandlodge.org/magazine

Pennsylvania Freemason