“No Ordinary Soldier”
"In the Vietnam War, Terry M. Jorgensen served in the Army's Headquarters Company, 9th Infantry Division from 1968-1970. He received the rank of sergeant, E-5. Upon returning from the war, he worked as a locomotive engineer for thirty years for Southern Pacific Railroad. This is a poignant letter he wrote home to his parents:
Dear Mom and Dad,
Yesterday we were assigned to fly support missions for some of the outlying firebases. While there I learned that my good friend Jay had gone out on patrol with his platoon three days ago, was overdue and was presumed missing. I asked our pilot Captain Holloway if there was any way we could help in the search for my friend and still complete our missions for that day. Captain Holloway is a kind and good man and he understood my concern. He said he would do whatever he could. It was not until later that day and with some effort on his behalf that we felt that we had found them.
As we flew over I could see bodies everywhere, my heart cried out as we made an attempt to land. As we did so we came under ground fire and were forced to land a short distance away. I pleaded with Captain Holloway to let me go out myself and try to bring back my friend and anyone else who might still be alive. Reluctantly, he said that he would cover for me and that I could go; he knew he would do the same thing. "We'll pick you up here at 0600 tomorrow, but I don't think it will be worth it," he said. "Your friend and everyone else are probably already dead and you'll just be throwing your life away." As the chopper flew away, Mom, my heart cried out with so much fear, and I began to cry.
I crawled on my belly half the night and somehow, I managed to reach their position. One by one I searched for Jay until I found him. It took me all night to drag him back and at times I would carry him on my shoulders until I could no longer walk. Finally, somehow, we made it back to where the chopper was waiting. Captain Holloway with tears in his eyes, looked at me so tenderly; and he then said, "I told you it wouldn't be worth it, your friend is dead and now you are wounded."
I said, "It was worth it, Sir."
He said, "Listen to me, I am telling you that your friend is dead."
"Yes sir, I understand, but it was still worth it."
"How do you mean it was worth it, son?"
"It was worth it, Sir, because when I got to him, he looked at me and said, 'I knew you would come.'"
“Protected by God”
"Joseph R. Banks slipped past the Nazi guards into the European countryside. He and three other escaped prisoners of war traveled by night for several days, restricting their movements until the middle of the night, when they could travel undetected.
One night as they crept along, Banks was startled by a voice. Suddenly a door opened in a house to his left. Light flooded out, illuminating him in his prisoner-of-war uniform, and a German soldier came through the doorway, shouting at him.
"Before I could think of what to do, I was startled . . . to hear myself respond with a calm, confident German phrase that obviously was appropriate to what he'd asked me," Banks recalled. "He then replied to whatever I'd said with an almost cheerful, 'Ja, Ja, Ja!' . . . and went back into the house."
When they were safely on their way again, Banks' companions asked him what he had said. "I told them I had no idea what either he or I said, since I couldn't speak German."
For Banks the experience was a miracle and a reminder that he was not alone while he served in World War II. "It thrilled me to know that God was still watching out for me and that he cared for me"."
"Love your neighbor as yourself and your country more than yourself." —Thomas Jefferson
A Letter to the Editor
6 years ago