As Christmas approaches, I am reminded of a story that my friend Jim shared with my son who was embarking on his own military journey.
It’s a war story, but a love story at the same time. One might think they wouldn’t go together, but when the darkness of war surrounds people, the light of love is magnified. Adding Christmastime to the story makes it magical.
Here is a picture of Jim’s story. It is typed below the picture for easier reading.
“As a member of the Army Armed Forces in the Pacific Theater of Operations – a Tank Battalion – attached to New York’s famous and finest Infantry Division during WWII, I can honestly tell you that war is hell. There’s just no way getting away from that.
But I can also truly add that following Japan’s dastardly air attack at Pearl Harbor – of which most of us didn’t even know of its location prior to the attack – we very clearly understood that there would be no choice as to whether or not we’d rapidly become involved in a counterattack. It took just a month or so short of five years, but no one even thought of getting back home until the war was won. Sure we wanted to get home, but until we defeated Hitler and his Allies including Japan, we knew we were in for the duration no matter how long it would take.
As we hip-hopped across the Pacific, recapturing island after island – for our outfit it was Guam, Leyte and Manila in the Philippines, Hiroshima, just off of Okinawa and Okinawa itself – we knew our next battle would be the Japanese Island itself until President Truman, thank God, had the courage to order the atomic bombing of Japan itself. Sorry about those who felt it wasn’t necessary, but as far as I’m concerned, it saved millions of lives, mine included.
A very interesting miracle sideline is worth hearing at this point, with which I’m sure you will agree “When we arrived at Leyte – it was Thanksgiving Day – we came in under a Jap air attack until our faster air fighters coming in pairs, attacked their fighters, knocking them out of the sky, a beautiful sight to see, granting us free access onto the island. Shortly thereafter, we received a message from MacArthur congratulating us on our safe arrival and promising us we would not miss our Thanksgiving meal. He added that unfortunately one of the Jap bombs hit and sunk the lone cargo ship carrying our Christmas gifts, so we should prepare ourselves for this disappointment. Well disappointments are a part of fighting a war so we knew we’d live with it.
True to his word we got our Thanksgiving dinner the day before Christmas and the next day our Christmas dinner. A week later on New Year’s Day night I, along with a buddy was assigned guard duty from midnight till 2 AM. It was a beautiful moonlight night and moonlit nights are like daylight in the Pacific, when in the distance I saw something white reflected by the moon’s light. Approaching it carefully my buddy warned me to be careful or it might be a buried hand grenade. But I said “No, it can’t be, because a hand grenade is black and this is white. Still I did approach it carefully, getting down on my knees with my arms outstretched as far as I could get them, I carefully dug under the item when up popped a very soggy brown papered box, out of which popped a very soggy wrapped Christmas box, out of which stuck this very white item reflected by the moonlight. Reaching for its top I lifted it from its Christmas box and in my hand I held a silver ID Bracelet, one side of which was engraved with my name and serial number, and the other side “With my love, HEW“, my wife’s initials, a term of endearment that I gave her because she did not like the name of Hazel.
Call it what you like but I call it a miracle from God. What are the odds not only that I should be the one to find this box, but that the box should belong to me?
And here’s the kicker. Three months later, now in Okinawa, I finally get a response from my wife acknowledging receipt of my letter explaining how I received my ID bracelet, to which she simply wrote “What happened to the cookies“?
And that’s the way it is with my wife. She firmly believes that the less said keeps her out of trouble.”
Jim’s writing can also be seen in several of my blog posts titled Treasured Traditions, starting here: https://climbingdownhill.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/a-treasured-tradition-part-1/
[NOTE: The story shown and quoted above is not my own, but expressly belongs to the Jim and Hazel Kistler family and is not to be copied without permission or proper credit given.]