There's no atheists in a foxhole.. for sure not!
At about age 12, I was confirmed by the Bishop who married my parents. We went to church every Sunday like many families, with our neighbors and my friends. I went to Sunday school for years. In truth, back then, none of it meant much to me, it was just something we did. My interests, up until age 26, were; shooting ducks, sailing, skiing, fishing, trapping, playing, running track, diving, math science, fast cars, motorcycles, beer and girls in various order, depending on my age and the seasons.
At 26 and a half all that changed forever and I do mean everything! I was sent to Vietnam. No more of the good life in the land of the big PX... I had a pistol, a rifle a uniform, a survival vest, a UHF radio, a stack of maps and an aircraft. I was ordered to fly wherever they said every day they said ...until, they said, I was either shot down, killed, crashed and died or finished my 3 years and could go home...
Since the aircraft they gave me had only one engine (and because no one wanted to fly in Vietnam in any aircraft with one engine of course you know, all the new guys wound up flying them) Since there were at least a million little yellow guys on the ground, all with guns and all of whom wanted my white, round-eye, fat ass dead, survival depended on 1) luck, 2) mechanical failure or not, 3) the weather, 4) the miserable dangerous strips 5) my skills as a pilot and 6) the principal one, God's will and sincere prayer. Since the damned engine quit twice in the first 6 months, giving me maybe 20 minutes to pray before getting in range of the little yellow men, you can best believe that last bit is exactly what I did- I prayed
On one fine day, I came to an understanding that the guy I saw staring back at me every morning while shaving might well, in the next 8 to ten hours, be a burned up, shot up corpse mangled in a twisted smoldering wreck or lying dead in a muddy rice field,. Every day in that hellish country people were dying. We lost pilots, soldiers, sailors and civilian contractors. Over those years, many thousands were killed and many more maimed. It wasn't until years later that we found out how many.
That very morning, with the realization (epiphany) of death staring me in the face, I stepped through the final doorway into emotional adulthood- coming to terms with my own demise. A kind of final right of passage into a dark maturity. For better or worse, I, like all who have been to war, have never been the same!
Most of us, unless we were brain-dead drunks or pot heads, which some were, (probably still are) did a lot of praying.. I prayed before every take-off, while climbing into the cockpit, on the way to the airport or walking across the ramp, I prayed in flight and before decent. I prayed before and during landings, I prayed while on the ground, at dinner and at night before sleeping.. We all thanked God for living through that day and we prayed for coming home the next...
Did it work, did God answer my prayers? During those years death was ever present. My aircraft were on the ramp within sight of the area where the kids in the aluminum boxes were being loaded. There were dead lying in the streets. There was the sound of war, guns and bombs going off 24 /7. There was no escaping or avoiding the killing, dying and the corpses. They stacked the dead in my aircraft to be flown back to Saigon. The blood and gore leaking from the bags was on the aluminum deck. The stench of rotting bodies was palatable and seemed to stay on your clothes. Some evenings we would sit on the roof top of the Majestic Hotel near the Saigon river sipping drinks watching the war come to life. Maybe God heard me- I did finally come home but home wasn't working, I found I couldn't stay! I went back, I had to- I was unfit for peace!
I wound up spending another 5 years in African conflict areas which were even more hideous than Vietnam. How? I don't remember the VC cannibalizing their vics..!!!! The difference in Africa was that I couldn't pray... I had no choice about Nam, Africa- was by choice. I didn't have to be there. I had no one to blame. Still, I did say a few prayers but, since this was my choice, I really didn't expect or disserve divine intervention...
I made it back anyway or maybe because "HE" wanted me to. My book ATHEISTS ARE IDIOT'S and VANISHMENT along 28 others, may have something to do with why. Maybe it was HIS plan all along that I would live to tell HIS story...One thing I did learn and now know as fact- GOD is real, HE is here and HE watches out for us, He hears you!!! By the way, Satan is real too!