There have been many times in my life when everything seemed like I was being prepared for a greater purpose.
One of my Drill Instructors during an in ranks inspection looked at me and told me that he sensed that I was destined to do something great.
That had always stuck with me and so I felt I had a purpose even in the small things we did.
I escaped death many times during training and also in war scenarios.
The following prayer by St. Patrick really reminds me of the importance of recognizing the Lord's presence in all things.
To know that he is there when things go south. I served in the United States Army for more than 26 years. In that time I faced some close encounters with death. Many of us can identify with this prayer:
Christ shield me today
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I was stationed in Germany between October 1986 through October 1989. I actually left Germany and returned to the United States about a month before the Berlin wall was to fall. I loved Germany, it has a rich history, a strong christian foundation.
You can drive the autobahn, the countryside and find crucifixes, statues in the middle of the field, or at some intersection on any street. It is an awesome place to spend a tour of duty. I was attached with a Support unit and I was a squad leader of the "Track Pack".
It was Reforger 1988, it was cold and wet. We had orders for our track ambulance to transport a fake casualty to higher medical support. It was part of training we were conducting with several other units in the field of operations. Anytime we had to move out, we always had to tear down our defensive position.
I had recently been promoted to Sergeant and I was solidly in charge of the "Track Pack" in the Ambulance Platoon. In those days it was always a chore putting up cammo net as it would always get hung up on the track.
There were a million places on the vehicle that always would tangle up. The crew usually would be a two man team consisting of a driver and a TC (someone who would keep an eye out for the driver). It was always demanding especially when you had to break track.
That was always hard work and you have to watch what your doing. I was in really good shape, I would do about 20 chin ups every morning just because I could. I would always max my PT Test in the 19-21 year old age group, not bad for an over 30 guy.
I worked hard to improve the readiness and proficiency of the track pack. It was a cold hard winter this year and the roads had snow and ice on the roads. We had orders to move our track through a village and into a prescribed place for medical support.
I was Troop Commander (TC) of our track and was sitting in the back hatch where it was cold. On our route, we were trying to make a trip down a large hill when the track became like a sled.
My driver lost control of the vehicle as we began to move across the highway. We edged toward the other side of the road and began to turn over when we were saved by a tree.
All we could do was to brace ourselves.
If the track had turned over, we would have plummeted to our death falling down a gorge at least a hundred feet.
When we were fully stopped the track was off the entire right side and the roof of the track had hit a lone tree. This tree was not a large tree, but it certainly stopped the track from rolling down this gorge.
The Driver and I could only position ourselves inside the track bracing ourselves for a terrible end. I remember it like slow motion, we began to flip over to our right when it just stopped right there in mid flip. We literally was sitting with the back of the track tilted against the tree. The right side track was way of the ground.
I opened the back door and our fake casualty who was riding in the back on a litter who came out from the back throwing up as he thought his life was over. It was a site to see as the track was literally on it's way to rolling sideways down this gorge. This was the only tree in the entire area and we hit it dead center. I thanked the Lord for his presence and for the tree!
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