WOUNDED SOLDIER, HEALING WARRIOR SPEECH
MAY 30, 2004
What a privilege and honor it is to be your guest this day. I must acknowledge my gratitude to my good friend, Gary Horton, for suggesting me as a guest speaker to your pastor, David Chase, and to be ale to share with you from the same pulpit where Pastor Chase provides such wonderful preaching, teaching and leadership to this dynamic fellowship of believers.
To be here on the weekend where we honor our fallen warriors gives me immense satisfaction and I thank you.
My title is:
WOUNDED SOLDIER, HEALING WARRIOR
Let me take you back with me to my soldiering days.
THE DATE: June 17, 1967
THE PLACE: Dak To Army Special Forces Camp in the Republic of Vietnam
THE TIME: 0430 hours (that is 4:30 am to civilians or zero dark thirty to late risers).
THE SCENE: I was inside the inner perimeter of the camp and a mortar barrage began from enemy firing positions across the river.
THE BACKGROUND: Two North Vietnamese Regular Army Units had crossed once into South Vietnam from the Ho Chi Mihn Trail thru Laos and Cambodia.
They had ambushed two of our patrols within the previous 4 days and killed 4 Americans.
I was the American awake and on guard when the attack started and I started doing my duty for which I had been trained for eight years.
I called for Air Force support from an air base south of us to get airplanes up to us to drop flares so we could see the enemy as the expected ground attack started.
We had three of our own mortars so I began literally grabbing men and ordering them to man our guns to get our mortar rounds on the enemy positions.
As I surveyed the land in the direction from which I believed the mortar rounds were coming, suddenly I was thrown forward on my stomach with a tremendous blow as if a baseball bat had been swung against my back. I yelled out “Oh, God I’m dead.”
But let me back up a little in the story to tell you how I found myself in that desolate, isolated place in a war as a Military Intelligence Officer with the U. S. Army Special Forces.
I was raised in an Army family and decided at age 8 to go to West Point from which I graduated in 1963 as the youngest man in my class, 15 days short of my 21st birthday.
While at Fort Hood, Texas on my first assignment it became obvious that I could not make the military a career due to my then wife’s displeasure with the military as a lifestyle. To save my marriage, I planned to resign my commission and I had a chance to go to Korea as a General’s Aide avoiding the Vietnam War altogether.
However, my sense of duty, honor, and country instilled in me as a cadet dictated that I volunteer for service in Vietnam which I did without telling my wife.
I went there on 1 August 1966 the day the tower shooter did his thing with 15 deaths on the Texas campus in Austin and I thought I was going away to the war zone.
Once there, I volunteered for Special Forces and was a covert, undercover officer recruiting Montagnards, the natives of Vietnam, to go back to spy on the enemy.
That is how I ended up at Dac To, one of about 100 Green Beret Camps all over isolated areas in that war-torn country, just like the old cavalry of our west.
When I fell forward I attempted to find a depression and began crawling into a ditch. After hearing my cries for help, two Army Green Beret Sgt. came from under safety to take me on a stretcher to an underground bunker where another Army Green Beret, Jim Hill, a medic began treating me. He later told me I was his first combat casualty to treat. I should have asked from a second opinion. He went under the fire of the barrage to obtain relief for me with morphine and plasma.
When the attack lifted we had 2 Americans killed and 9 wounded of 25. Our South Vietnamese took 40 dead/wounded.
We were helicoptered out just like on the TV program MASH and I passed out around
7 a.m. Saturday on the chopper.
When I awoke at 6 p.m. Sunday I had a sheet up to my neck with needles in both arms. I looked down where I saw my toes all black and blue on my right leg with a cast from my hip down, my left leg was gone below the knee.
Believe it or not, I didn’t lose it. The morphine was doing its job to keep me calm.
I returned in one week to San Antonio and three days later my second leg was amputated, also below the knee.
But you know, as heavy as my topic is at this point, I must tell you the good news, of which there was some!
The doctor told me that I would walk again with artificial legs. I had been 5’9” tall and he asked me how tall I wanted to be. Since I was already dapper and handsome, I blurted out 6’ 2”, to be tall also. He said just joking; I should go between 5 ’8” or 5’ 7” as I would walk better. So I accepted, most reluctantly, 5’ 8”.
I began many long years of healing of body, soul, and spirit. I studied for an MBA at SMU, worked for a short period of time as a personal financial assistant to Ross Perot, and then I became an investments portfolio manager at a large downtown Dallas bank.
By 1973 and age 31, I was walking pretty well and had a good, but boring job. My wife had served me well and been a loyal and caring wife with a 2 year old daughter.
I was in the Army Hospital in an Antonio for 15 months and experienced an extensive rehabilitation process physically, but must tell you I was subjected in a very real fashion by an attack in spiritual warfare. In February 1968, I was beset with fear and anxiety and went four days without sleep and cracked emotionally. Then began a fourteen weeks stay in the closed psychiatric ward with its attendant psychotherapy, pills, and group therapy.
I was healed and had two minor episodes in 1970 and 1973, but I stand before you today headed by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and have no residual effects from that and do not need any pills. I experience the typical sadness that wartime wounded veterans suffer especially during a time of war such a now.
I was in a basically stable mode of life, but had not yet rebuilt my self-confidence. I thought often about the war and my wounding. I was still hurting really badly.
Then a West Point classmate, Andy Siddel, who attended seminary in Dallas, invited me as a guest to his church. None of the usual excuses applied. It was only 6 blocks away. Even though I was active in church and has accepted Christ as a teenager and taught Sunday School at West Point, I had become a non-church-goer.
After a few weeks there at that neighborhood church, the pastor woke me up one day when he began to say that the ultimate struggle of our life was the war between good and evil. God and the devil. I perked up and paid more attention than for any sermon ever up to that time.
As a Military Academy cadet, officer and Vietnam Vet, the terms he used of battles, wars, and spiritual warfare were intriguing and fascinating to me.
By the end of the service I was in tears because I realized I had almost sacrificed my life in the cause of freedom as a young soldier, but I barely gave any attention to my creator and His son, Jesus. I remember the service well. All my years as a young man, devouring the stories of our great America and the heroic traditions of our founding and history welled up in me as I realized that God had been responsible for this great land and I had neglected the origination of the United States. I had indeed been a soldier in a very small skirmish of our own 6,000 years of the concept of war in the spirit world, and I wanted to begin to have a relationship with the Jesus who died on that cross as a sacrifice for me to have the gift of eternal life.
I joined a Bible Study and my most fervent prayers were that I not be asked to pray, but my spiritual journey began.
In 1979, Texas Governor Bill Clements appointed me on his Austin staff to be his special assistant for administration. To show how I began to grow in my political jobs, I took this opportunity to get fitted with a new set of legs that took me to 5’ 11”
After this period of political service, I went into business as a partner in a real estate investment company in 1983.
Since then I have had severe trials of life.
Both my parents died in the mid 80’s within 14 months of each other from horrible cancer.
In 1989 I declared corporate bankruptcy
In 1990 I declared personal bankruptcy
In 1994 my 30 year marriage was terminated by divorce.
The wounded soldier was in earthly battle to grow in my faith, but battered and besieged, but most importantly, my faith remained unshaken. In the words of the Roman writer, Tacitus, “My head was bloodied but unbowed.”
About 1980, I recall one of those memorable events with my 6 year old daughter.
I had been watching a John Wayne movie with all the music and flag waving warriors. I was in my wheel chair and Christi came to sit on my lap for the final few minutes of the movie. As it ended, she asked if that was a war like I had been in. When I said yes, she said, “Well, the next time you to war, I’ll go with you but I’ll wait in the camp.”
In 1989, at the peak of my financial challenges, God plucked me from Austin, Texas and by his mercy placed me in Washington, D. C. as an assistant for Veteran Liaison in the President Bush Administration.
And as was befitting my new and lofty political position, I grew attain to 6’ 1” tall. I was inching along to that 6’ 2” goal.
My wife never went to Washington D. C. and during that time of estrangement I began diligently to seek answers to what this was all about.
The wounded soldier, bloodied in body, in finances, in my business, in my family life, found the way to heal and to be a warrior in the spiritual area and to help others heal.
My ability to be healed and to get on the battlefield for spiritual warfare was dependent on my availability to listen to God.
How do we begin to become healed as well as to be a warrior who heaps to heal others.
It all starts with faith and belief that God is who He says He is. That He does answer prayers, and that our words are very important. I have used the words of scripture and speak them out loud. If we have faith in God, then we must believe in the text gook He gave us, our Bible. We study our math, chemistry and social science texts. We believe what we study and regurgitate it on tests so we can obtain good grades and develop a good transcript so we can obtain jobs and become prosperous. Out most important text for life is our Bible. Although I was a very obedient cadet at West Point and an obedient officer in the U.S. Army, I have not been as obedient to what God has instructed me in the Bible. My lack of believing, faithlessness and disobedience has caused almost all of the dis-ease in my life.
We must pray daily for faith because upon faith stands everything to bring us complete health. Our prayers will be answered to change us only in the degree to which we exhibit faith in God, His Word, and His promises.
By the mid-80’s there were sometimes humorous ways I recalled my wartime period. At my sister, Betty’s home on a visit, her then 6 year-old, Cheryl, hit up against my artificial leg one night and jumped away. I told my embarrassed sister I would handle the situation. I told Cheryl I had been hurt in the war.
She stood up, backed away, and said, “Did you kill anybody in the war?”
I said, “No, I didn’t.”
She said, “Bad shot, huh?”