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Guarding General Patton
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For some people to truly appreciate the freedom this country offers, they have to experience the turmoil our soldiers went through to earn it.

Whether it's reliving the tragedies through books, movies or personal stories, no one has a greater appreciation than the soldiers that got a first hand seat to the action.

Fred Mauldin, an 84-year-old World War II veteran was a personal guard for General George Patton from 1944 to 1945.

A former college student at the University of Georgia, where he studied biology in hopes to become a doctor, Maudlin gave up his college career to join the Army.

Serving as a member of the 503rd Federal Militia, Mauldin entered the war at age 20.

Handpicked by the Department of Army, Mauldin, whose father was the leader of the draft board, set off to join 268 other soldiers who would become personal guards for Patton.

"It was a great honor to be that close to a man of the stature," Mauldin said. "He was so unpredictable. One day he could bless you out or take you to the cat house, and the next day he would take you to church."

Having to keep a constant watch over Patton and follow him wherever he went, Mauldin had to endure the worst conditions to complete his job.

"I remember this one time when we were in the Argon forest and the weather was miserable. It was cold and rainy, and we had to sleep in mud that came up to our knees" Mauldin said.

Never discouraged with his call of duty, Maudlin did his job and never complained.

"I enjoyed working with him," Mauldin said. "It was that same night in the Argon Forest that Patton came out of his trailer to let his dog use the restroom and saw me lying in the mud."

Slightly intimidated by what Patton would say to him next, Maudlin was asked to join Patton in his trailer for coffee and brandy.

"I didn't know what to say to him," Mauldin said. "I didn't know if I was going to be in trouble for drinking on the job or disobeying an order if I refused."

After serving 18 month tour of duty under Patton, Mauldin was discharged from active service.

Able to come home and finish his schooling with a bachelor's degree in sales and engineering, Maudlin became a sales representative.

Traveling the United States selling dairy equipment for ice-cream processing plants, he discovered his passion for traveling.

Visiting 27 states around the country and staying busy, Maudlin finally found time for love as he married his wife of 55 years in 1950.

Mauldin has three children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He used the lessons he learned from Patton and applied them to the tactics he used the raise his own children.

"Patton taught us how to discipline ourselves," Mauldin said. "He made us appreciate things and to pay attention. We learned that when something is asked of you, you do it and with out making excuses."

Now a resident of Mews Retirement and Personal Inc. in Social Circle, the once personal guard for General Patton has traded in his military boots for a pair of loafers.

Unable to travel, fish or hunt, Mauldin spends much of his time reading.

"I used to always have three to four books around me," Mauldin said. "If one started to get boring I would put it down and pick up another one."

Having endured 75 surgeries in recent years, Mauldin is still spreading his wealth of knowledge to the ones who will listen.

Maudlin is willing to talk about his experiences and help shed light on the past to others.