The Journey Continues: Fourth of July
July 4th marks our nation’s 242nd birthday. It is a time when all Americans celebrate our independence and freedom.
Last week at Fort Benning, Georgia, a group of friends shared our journeys from 51 years ago while serving in an Infantry Rifle Company Vietnam. The only thing better than a friend, is an old friend!. They came from Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and New York.
Vietnam was the signature event of our lifetime. There was plenty to talk about as a year in combat produces many memories.
I want to share what happened to Lieutenant James Bazmore. Two missions for his unit along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border resulted in great anxiety and fear. A small group of eight soldiers from his rifle company were given the responsibility to recon troop movements of North Vietnamese moving down the Ho Chi Minh trail from the north. As they lay hidden, only a few feet off the side of the trail during the night, they counted 630 North Vietnamese troops in uniform moving south. Stealth was required as no coughing or noise of any kind could come from the small unit. It was a fearful situation and Bazmore was sending up “911” prayers. Thankfully they were not discovered and reported their finding to headquarters.
Another tense situation: Arc Light flights of three B-52 Bombers dropping 750 or 1000-pound bombs over an area one mile by two miles delivered without warning from 30,000 ft. Their impact could literally suck the oxygen out of your lungs. Regulations called for a 1,000 meter “safety zone buffer” between our troops and the bomb target area. For whatever reason, Lieutenant Bazmore and his unit were only 660 meters distant, dangerously inside the safety zone.
“Words cannot describe the percussion, sound and movement of the earth we experienced,” Bazmore said.
And he is thankful they lived through such an awesome display of firepower, but it was another time when 911 prayers filled the air!
In both events, his unit was untouched, and he lived to tell this story. But he also believes that God answers “911” prayers. My friends at the Fort Benning reunion – Bazmore, Stoner, Phillips, Prater, Hopper, Washington and I can say, based on our experiences, that God is real, present and available.
The July 4th holiday is a good time to acknowledge that our country, from the time of George Washington forward, has seen the place for faith in service to the nation. As a result, there are chapels on every United States military installation and chaplains available in every branch of the services – Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard – to encourage during war and peace.
King David put it this way: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”