Half-a-Century Ago?????

I did not anticipate it, nor see it coming.

But as I looked at the date to check something it hit me…

Fifty years (half-a-century!) ago today I boarded a freedom bird and flew home from Vietnam. A few hours after landing I was honorably discharged after serving four years in the Army.U of SV 68

Fifty years!

Begs again the question – what is such a young guy like me doing in such an old body???

But…seriously…Here I am just after basic training:

uniform Jack

 

I do not regret the time I spent in uniform; specifically the 11 months I spent in Vietnam. Of course I wasn’t a believer at the time; not sure what difference that would have made regarding whether I would have enlisted or not. They say hindsight is wonderful and/or 20/20; but hindsight is distorted and a waste of time anyway.

I was in the Army Security Agency (but we “weren’t in Vietnam”…long story…attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry as a track commander (in the turret behind a .50 caliber machinegun).

acav

I don’t tell war stories (or prison stories for that matter), but I will share part of what happened on July 9, 1969.ACAV11CAVprint

Our plane landed at Travis Air Force Base in California. They shut down the aircraft…and we looked out the window at perhaps 100-150 anti-war protesters who had been allowed (apparently) to assemble.

We could not hear them, but they did not look like a welcoming crowd…

More Air Police were brought in to make a corridor through the group, and, after about two hours, we were released from the aircraft.

Filing down the stairs we heard all kinds of obscenities, disparaging yells, and other garbage.

The first “round-eye” I saw was a stereotypical blonde California girl…drop-dead gorgeous…screaming “How many babies did you kill in Vietnam?” over and over.

As I got closer I simply glared at her.

The older Marine behind me was more quick-witted than I…

He responded, in a dead-pan voice, “Only as many as I could eat.”

Perhaps not “politically correct” nor even “nice,” but it did shut her up.

Welcome home, soldiers.

Again, I wasn’t a follower of Christ, so after receiving my discharge papers I went into San Francisco and lost the next few days…

But I was home…

Though the next few years were filled with me acting out on my hatred of America, constant alcohol and other drug use, and crime; the sovereignty of God preserved me until arrest…confrontation with the Gospel…the working of His Spirit through His Word…and the ultimate prison break – salvation.

He continues to “fulfill His purposes for me” and I am thrilled to be His, and to be along for the ride.

 

>Celebrate Memorial Day Daily

>I think every one of my kids, and some others, has, at some point or another when walking through a cemetery, asked me why I salute certain headstones (obviously I’m not saluting the headstone, but the person represented by the headstone)…my answer? Gratitude and respect…with the hope that I’ll meet them one day in glory…

I was doing that, as I’m sure many vets were, even before the closing moments of “Saving Private Ryan.”

>Saluting the Armed Forces

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On this Armed Forces Day I say “welcome home” to all my fellow Vietnam veterans…

Like many things in life, if you’ve not been there,  you have no idea. In my experience the ones who come back from any combat zone and talk about it a lot have some type of agenda. The quiet ones are the ones who “been there, got the tee shirt” and don’t want to relive it.

Like prison, I learned a lot there…but don’t wanna go back.

From 1968-1968 I rode with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. I was not yet a follower of Christ, though had I been I still would have served. Prior to Nam I spent a couple years in Korea and a few months in Germany.

May we continue to pray for all the current military men and women in harms way; and thank those who have served.

Even if you are against war (in particular or general), do not disrespect the warrior.

>Randomness on Vet’s Day

>I served four years in the Army. Enlisted right out of high school. Long before Jesus captured me.

Did a couple years in Korea…discovered kimchi! Was in Korea when the “Pueblo”  was snatched by the North Koreans. Never thought we’d sell those guys out. We did. Most reading this never heard of the incident…

From Korea to Germany. Was there when the Russians invaded Czechlosvakia. Sent my unit out to the Czech border several days before it happened. Did we have a hunch? Duh.

Then went to Vietnam (with the 11th Armored Cavalry) for the remainder of my enlistment.

Army was a lot like prison. Learned a lot there; don’t wanna go back.

But the dumb decisions I made after the military were not Vietnams fault…or the Armys fault…or even the devils fault.

The decisions were influenced by all those things, and more; but the decisions were not dictated by those things.

I made my choices, my choices made me. It’s called personal responsibility.

The most disgusting phrase in English? “It’s not my fault.” Well, yeah, it is.

We may have a lot of “excuses,” but to paraphrase a military saying, “Excuses are like elbows; everyone has a couple.”

And our God did not send His Son to die for excuses, but for sins. “There is a way that seems right to a man…”

I’m thankful the Lord sent His Spirit to invade my life in a Texas jail cell in 1974…and that His mercies are new every morning.

>War is More Than Statistics

>I had the honor of serving with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam (’68-’69). Today marks the anniversary of the “official” end of the war as the Paris peace accords were signed January 27, 1973.

As in any war, statistics are carefully kept as to how many died, but statistics don’t have faces, nor can they tell stories.

The following video tells a story:

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9001213&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1MSNBC – Vietnam War Photo from Family First on Vimeo.

>Forgiveness – Better Late Than Never

>Thanks to a good friend, I watched this video with tears. I served in Vietnam ’68-’69 attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry. At this point I’ve no desire to return. But I’m glad this man did, and am so grateful for the forgiveness Christ purchased (at such a horrific cost) for those who repent and trust; and will continue to strive to obey His command to “pass it on” – “forgiving one another even as God in Christ Jesus has forgiven you.”
http://www.tangle.com/flash/swf/flvplayer.swf

>Reflections on Christian Youth Camp

>As the calendar races to the first of several weeks of teen camp at which I’ll be speaking this summer, I again reflect that youth camp is like R & R (Rest and Recreation) when I was in Vietnam.

One moment you are in a warzone, the next you are (in my case) in Australia enjoying seven days of relaxation. But, from the first moment, in the back of your mind, in ever increasing volume, is the tick-tock of the clock…four days, three days, 73 hours…and, boom, back to the war zone.

Students who come to Christian camps are, in varying degrees, leaving the war zone of “real life” and coming to what, prayerfully, will be a taste, a nibble, of heaven. Surrounded by staff/counselors/speakers who love Jesus, away from the all negative media and so forth…enjoying life, laughter, and being challenged by the Word of God.

Oh yeah, and exhausted!

But, in many of their minds, the reality of time slipping away thunders in their heads…three more days, two more, 27 hours…and, boom, back to the war zone.

So our goal should be to equip and arm them to fight the good fight when they get back to the real world. Obviously we want to declare the gospel to those outside the family of the redeemed; and we want to challenge and encourage Christians to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” and give them tools and ideas to accomplish that growth; but we dare not get so “numbers” oriented that we think it is all about “decisions” and “going forward.”

After all, profession of faith is not the same as possession of faith.

But too often the emphasis is on “decisions”. Obviously some wonderful transformations take place when God’s Word is preached; but by the middle of the week the students are so tired and emotional that a careless or impurely solely emotional “altar call” will get plenty of “results,” but not often Spirit-prompted commitments.

And we must emphasize that Ephesians 2.10 is just as inspired as Ephesians 2.8,9; salvation works! And we must combat the sloppy agape stuff that indicates it is all about us, and emphasize that the life of a Christian is one of sacrifice,inconvenience, and great joy.

The battle is the Lords, yes, but we are participants in the battle. Lock and Load!

>"Against" What? or "Against" Who?

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Forty years ago I was in Vietnam, attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Forty? Good grief! What is such a young guy doing in such an old body???

I was not a follower of Christ. I was into a lot of garbage. Vietnam was a lot like my subsequent years in prison – I learned a lot there, but I don’t wanna go back.

And though it was a different war against a different enemy, it gives empathy to our troops serving in warzones today.

And I am thankful – once again – that the people who are “against” the current wars are, in large part, not “against” the warriors.

It’s not unlike being “against” sin, but not “against” sinners.

And I encourage you to ponder that last sentence, examine what (who?) you are “against,” and leave some thoughts in the comment section.

And…of course…even as we celebrate memorial day…let us never cease to wonder at the memory of the One who loved us so much He would rather die than be without us…