6/02/2008

Story of Faith



Yesterday I witnessed something that brought back memories of many years ago. It brought back my leaving home and going to Naples, Italy for assignment at Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH). It also brought back memories of ‘Nam.

Yesterday another one of America’s sons left for Iraq to fight that “dirty little war.” I won’t go into my thoughts on our involvement since I always go off on a tangent about “W”. That will be for another day, another blog entry. I stood by and saw the tears of this young man’s family as he lugged his gear into the jeep that would take him to the airport to start his journey to Baghdad. He seemed on the brink of tears himself. Only the fact he is an Airborne Ranger prevented him from indulging in this emotional scene. His mother…I remembered another mother in March in 1970 as I was leaving for a land half way around the world. There was family there crying also. But, not as they were here yesterday. This family’s concern was muted, but palpable on the faces hugging and kissing this young soldier. His mother was the last to hold him in her arms…her baby…and had to be pried away from him as the U.S. Army humvee driver had to let them know they were running late. It was a heartbreaking scene I witnessed from my front yard.

In just a few months after arriving in Naples, Italy, I received orders to report to the USS New Jersey in Vietnam. I was told to pack my duffel bag and be ready to take a military air command flight to Rota, Spain where another flight would take me to Cam Rahn Bay where I would meet up with my new ship. I was told I had two hours to be at the airport, including a 30 minute call to my home, courtesy of Uncle Sam. Before I even packed the first thing in my duffel bag, I called Mama. She always answered the phone on the first ring when I was overseas, my sisters would later tell me. She did this time also. She was happy to hear from me and I told her I had some news…I was going to Vietnam on temporary assignment. For about 10 seconds, I heard nothing. She told me to not leave, she had to read something to me. I told her we really didn’t have time for this. But, she said, “Yes, we have time for this!!!” After a few more complaints from me she told me to be quiet and listen… “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence…”

She was reading Psalms 91 to me. And she read the entire Psalm and I did as she told me…I stood there with phone in hand and kept quiet. Some words she barely made it through and choked up. But, she made it through. I told her how proud I was of her and thanked her for reading it to me. She then said a prayer for me and said she had faith that God would watch over me. I started to explain to her that I would be on a battleship which had no equal in the world, and certainly the North Vietnamese had nothing to threaten that ship (little did I know, at the time, I would also be on swiftboat patrol, an assignment with a 50% casualty rate). But, I let her continue, said I loved her and would talk to her soon.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone
.”


That was 38 years ago. I thought of that as the US Army vehicle carrying the young soldier drove by my house. I saw another mother standing, weeping as he left…with a bible in her hands. I thought of my mother and what heartache she must have felt. I could also see heartache in this mother. But, I also recognized, she had faith.

God Bless our troops.

“When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”









2 comments:

What a beautiful post that rips apart your heart for those having to serve in this war of lies.

Kharma, thanks for your comment. I don't blame W for going after the terrorists in Afghanistan. What I do blame him for is using faulty, at best, intelligence for going to war in Iraq. It wasn't necessary in my opinion.

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