Joe J. Christensen-Korean War

Joe was admitted into the first class of advanced Air Force ROTC students at Brigham Young University, and thereafter served in the US. Air Force during the Korean War from July 1953 to July 1955. He served in the Tactical Air Command at Charleston Air Force Base as a personnel officer and a base exchange officer. Joe achieved the rank of captain in the Air Force, and later became a General Authority in the Church.

Howard [Carroll] was the young, single, clean-cut, newly commissioned lieutenant who was assigned to succeed me as BX [base exchange] officer. To learn the job, he came to work with me about two months before I was to be released from active duty. Barbara and I invit­ed him to our home for a get-acquainted dinner and after we had taken him back to the BOQ (bachelor officers’ quarters) we almost simultaneously commented, “Howard would make a great member of the Church!”

Howard was a graduate in engineering from Clemson University. He came from a devout Protestant home. He was intelligent with an engaging smile and sense of humor. He didn’t smoke, swear, and if he drank at all, it was only occasionally and socially while he was at college. As we worked, attended temporary duty assignments, and played golf together, we became very well acquainted. We had the chance to have several long conversations about life and the gospel.

As I look back on it now, one of the defining experiences in Howard’s process of conversion occurred early on. We were assigned to a brief training session for base exchange officers at the air force base in Biloxi, Mississippi. We flew from Charleston about 4:00 A.M. in a C- 47. We were in meetings throughout the entire day from morning until about 10:00 P.M. that evening. When the class was dismissed, several said they wanted to go to some bar and “relax.” Not wanting to do that, I said, “Howard, I’m really tired. I think I will go back to our room and write a note to Barbara.”

He said, “Joe, I’m bushed too. I think I’ll join you.”

[A few weeks later] we [Howard Carroll and I] were billeted in the same room, and so when we were ready to go to bed, it was a bit awkward for me. What should I do about my personal prayer? Maybe to be less intrusive, I should just slip into bed and say a silent prayer. Then, for whatever reason, I said, “Howard, in my faith I have a custom of kneeling and praying at night and morning and if it is all right with you, I’ll do that now.” He nodded and I knelt down next to my cot and offered what probably was a much shorter prayer than usual because I felt like there were two eyes staring at the back of my head.

When I finished and was getting into bed, Howard said, “Joe, uh, uh … spiritually, I am in bad shape. Would you mind kneeling down again and saying another prayer-only this time out loud?” And so we did.

The prayer experience Howard and I had that night in our room in Biloxi, Mississippi, opened the door to having several conversations about religion, our belief in God and the nature of God, the purpose of life, etc. We had a lot more time to visit during the last month of my active duty since Barbara [my wife] had gone home for our daughter Susan’s birth. We had moved out of our house and for the final few weeks, I was temporarily rooming in the BOQ [bachelor officers’ quarters] just down the hall from where Howard was living. The night before my being released from active duty and beginning the long trip west to home, Howard and I had another conversation. By this time we had become good friends, having shared a lot of experiences at work, on the golf course, eating at the officers’ club mess hall, etc.

As we visited about a variety of things, Howard said, “Joe, you know, everything you have told me about your religion is better than mine. The only problem is, I don’t know that it is true. If the time ever comes that I do, I’d like to come out to Idaho, and you could baptize me.” Even that made me feel good. We continued our conversation about a wide variety of things, including religion. Then he stopped, hesitated for a few moments, put his clenched fist over his heart and said, “Joe, I don’t know how or why, but for some reason, I know that it is true. Would there be a chance that arrangements could be made for me to be baptized?

Arrangements were made with Bishop Royall and the next evening in the Charleston ward chapel, I had the privilege of baptizing Howard. He subsequently was instrumental in the baptism of his fiancée and mother-in-law and later became bishop of the Charleston ward. For Barbara and me, it was a great thrill to welcome two of his sons as missionaries while we presided over the Provo Missionary Training Center. HHh

Howard W. Bradshaw-Korean War

Howard served in the US. Army during the Korean War, from 1951 to 1953, achieving the rank of sergeant. As a soldier and as a missionary, he has shared the gospel with those around him throughout his entire lifetime. He has also served as a stake patriarch.

As I landed in Korea I was sent to Inchon, then south on a tram to Pusan, arriving approximately December 15, 1951.

My first Sunday in Korea I found the Latter-day Saints meeting in an old building in a small room in downtown Pusan. There were present that day seven American servicemen (GIs) and Dr. Ho Jik Kim. During the holidays Dr. Kim said he had a student he would like to bring to the services. We invited him to bring his friend. As the time passed, many more Koreans began to come to our meetings. At that time Elder Ralph Erickson from Delta, Utah, was the group leader. He chose me and Elder Kay Buchanan from San Jose, California, as his assistants. Later Brother Erickson went home and I became the group leader. Beginning in early 1952, I suggested there was a good friend in my company, Edward Solle from Grand Rapids, Michigan, (not a member of the Church) who could teach the Koreans English. He was a college graduate.

Edward did agree to teach English to the Koreans that would come to the meetings each Tuesday night for our Mutual. After teaching English lessons we taught them the gospel. With the teaching of English and the gospel we had many join the Church. The Spirit of our Heavenly Father was really strong in these meetings.

The attendance of the Mormon servicemen increased also at this time. We soon had to have a larger room and then we corresponded with the Japanese mission president, President Hansen. We were sent supplies and literature at that time.

Some of the Americans questioned whether we should be teaching the Koreans the gospel, but as the Spirit and the success of the work bore witness to them, they all knew it was to be so. Not only did we have success among the Koreans, but several servicemen were baptized and became great Latter-day Saints. My friend Edward Solle never joined the Church, but he really loved the Church and was a strong Christian, and he did a wonderful job teaching English to those Koreans.

Dr. Kim was our interpreter for the gospel, and as we taught the Spirit bore testimony of the truth of this great work. Teaching English to the Koreans was really a great tool in teaching the gospel.

Dr. Kim’s two children did join the Church early but I do not recall the day or when Mrs. Kim joined the Church or if she ever did while I was in Korea.

It is recorded on my pictures that August 3, 1952, was the date of the first Korean baptism in Pusan, Korea. Each baptism service was really special as we would go to the China Sea for the baptisms. We were so grateful when the chaplains would come to our area and we would have special meetings; also when President Hansen came to visit we had him the center of attraction.

Easter Sunday, April 5, 1953, was a most glorious day when many were baptized in the China Sea. This was the last baptismal day for me in Korea as I was to leave for home on April 26. With these many baptisms, it was a very happy time to be together on such a beautiful day. We did rejoice in the pouring out of the Spirit of the Lord as we sang, “The Spirit of God.”

In the words that are on the back of my pictures, I recorded that I was able to baptize thirty Koreans with the help of the Lord. Many others were also baptized during this time.

Before leaving for home, Dr. Kim and his wife took me out to dinner, to one of the best cafes in Pusan. He paid tribute to me for the great work accomplished. We talked of the future and wondered if someday there would be a temple in Korea. He seemed to know of a place in Seoul that would be a great place. His family had fled into Pusan during the war, and he knew they had been blessed. His wife was so sweet; I had a difficulty with chopsticks so she had the waitress bring me a spoon. They said they had never taken an American to dinner until then. I left approximately April 26, 1953, for home and my family.

Later my wife and I sponsored a Korean girl, Yoon Chung Kim, to come to the United States for schooling in Salt Lake City, Utah. Later on, one of Dr. Kim’s sons came and visited with us here in Beaver, Utah.

We love the Korean Saints, and I am so grateful for the opportunity I had in playing a small part in the Church being established in Korea. I thank the Lord for that opportunity and consider my stay in Korea my second mission. It was sad to be away from my wife, son, and family, but the work of the Lord helped me with happiness in the Korean work.

Dean S. Allan-Korean War

Dean served in the US. Air Force from January 1951 to October 1953 during the Korean War. He served with the 345th Squadron, 98th Bomb Wing as a gunner, and was involved in twenty-five combat missions. Dean achieved the rank of staff sergeant, and has served in both Church and public service, including serving as mayor of Mapleton, Utah.

I graduated from Springville High School in 1950 just as the Korean War started. On January 5, 1951, some of my classmates and I joined the U.S. Air Force.

We went through basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. After basic training we were sent to Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado, for gunnery training on B-29s. After gunnery training we were sent to Randolph Air Force Base [Texas] for crew training. But I took a slight detour in getting to Randolph. I went home on leave to put a diamond on my girlfriend’s finger.

When I arrived at Randolph Air Force Base, Captain Donald Funk came to me and asked if I would like to be on a Mormon crew. I was delighted to say the least. He asked me if I knew any other gunners who were LDS. I told him about my classmate from high school, Kenneth Russell. We (Ken and I) were assigned to the Mormon crew as left and right gunners. The crew consisted of eleven members: the pilot, Donald Funk, Ferron, UT; the copilot, Robert Sorensen, Logan, UT; the bombardier, Horace Crandall, ID; the navigator, Lee Reason, KY; the radio operator, Gerald Gerber, Salt Lake City, UT; the engineer, Art Grim, TX; the left gunner, Dean S. Allan, Mapleton, UT; the right gunner, Kenneth F. Russell, Springville UT; the central fire control gunner, Joe English, NC; the tail gunner, J. Lynn Lundell, Benjamin, UT; and the radar operator, Donald Robb, Boulder, CO.

After our crew training at Randolph, we were sent to Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka, Kansas, for combat crew training. While there, our crew was sent to Colorado Springs for survival training. This was a week spent without food and hiking many miles through Pikes Peak, while “enemy soldiers” were looking for us. All of this took place in January with a lot of snow in the mountains.

The crew was then given orders to pick up a new B-29 at Travis Air Force Base in California and fly it to Yokota Air Force Base, thirty miles west of Tokyo, Japan.

Our first combat mission was to drop forty 500-pound bombs on the enemy’s front lines. Our airplane was an old B-29 named Trouble Brewer. (The new airplane we had flown over was given to one of the older crews.) We flew missions every three to five days against bridges, airfields, and hydroelectric plants. Most all of our missions were flown at night so the enemy’s MiG-15 could not see us. Ground fire was intense. The communists were using German 88s which were radar-controlled flak guns and very accurate.

We flew our missions in a bomber stream, one airplane at a time over the target every three minutes at different altitudes for each airplane (33,000 feet then 31,000 feet, then 32,000 feet). These staggered altitudes helped us avoid their antiaircraft guns.

On our ninth mission we were unable to land at our home base because of dense fog. They sent us to a fighter aircraft base in southern Japan (Ashiya). When we got there we were nearly out of fuel, and we landed on a short runway causing us to go over the end of the runaway into a road dugway. This stopped our airplane abruptly, breaking it in half. The bombardier put his feet through the Plexiglass in the nose of the airplane, shattering both of his ankles. Needless to say this was the end of Trouble Brewer, our old airplane.

The Air Force grounded our pilot, Captain Funk, for causing the accident. Our crew was then assigned a new pilot, Lieutenant Max Kinnard, who really knew how to fly B-29s. Several times on our missions over North Korea, we would have two or three 500-pound bombs hang up in the bomb bay, and we would have to go out in the bomb bay with the doors open and trip the bomb shackles so they would drop. You don’t want to land with live bombs on board your airplane.

We flew the remainder of our missions under his command and were recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross because of our accuracy on targets and our leadership as the “Wing Lead Crew.”

While we were in Japan we attended church at the Tachikawa ward, and Ken Russell and I were ordained elders there by Captain Donald Funk, in preparation for our temple marriages when we got home in October.

Many prayers were offered in our behalf by family and ward members. I personally prayed each mission for our collective safety as a crew and my own [safety]. I promised the Lord that I would do everything He asked of me if I could return home safely.

Robert L. Backman-World War ll

Drafted on June 10, 1944, Robert was assigned to the Forty-third Division in the Anny after it had taken severe losses. This future General Authority served as a Latter-day Saint group leader during the war.

I did not know how many Latter-day Saints there were in the Forty-third Division. I had no way of finding out from my position. One day the chief chaplain of that division, a Catholic, came to our particular sector and visited. His assis­tant was a Latter-day Saint from Salt Lake City, Keith Wallace. I told him I had been appointed a group leader and did not know if there were any Latter-day Saints in the group. Keith arranged for me to meet with the chaplain who said, “Let’s find out. I’ll help you organize a meeting so your people can have their religious service that they need to have.” That dear man really helped us. He publicized the meeting throughout the division, reporting that there would be an LDS service held on Easter morning at the rear command post. Easter morning came, I did not know what to expect, how many men we would have, or if anybody would come. I arrived at the rear command post and found a bombed-out house. The only thing standing were the walls. But it gave us a little bit of privacy. I scrounged some ammunition boxes and formed a pulpit and sacrament table from those. I found some spent shell casings and some little wild flowers that had survived all the battles, and set them up for a little bit of atmosphere. We had a field organ, which I played. I had to use my knees to pump it to make any music. I waited impatiently to see how many would come.

Then the trucks started coming in. By the time we had our service, there were about fifty Latter-day Saint young men there. They had come directly from combat and their fox­holes. They were dirty and unshaven. They had their combat gear, ammunition belts, canteens, steel helmets, and their rifles. They got off those trucks and rather than have them carry their weapons inside the house, we had them stack them outside the walls. They sat on their steel helmets, because that was the only thing they had to sit on. We enjoyed one of the most spiritual services I have ever attended in my life. Some of those men had not been in a Latter-day Saint service since they left home. A number of them had gone astray. I will never forget, as we partook of the sacrament, the priests knelt at the table and could not get through the prayers because they were so emotional about it. I watched some of the men who acted as deacons, tears coursing down their cheeks as they passed the sacrament in our mess gear to the congregation and those receiving it feeling the same spirit, tears in their eyes. After singing some hymns, praying, and partaking of the sacrament, we turned it into a testimony meeting. I do not know when I have heard more fervent testimonies. Men who on the spot repented of things they had done and said, “This is going to change my life just by having this association, singing these songs and feeling this fellowship, and renewing my covenants with the Lord.” It was one of those experiences I will never forget. I think that was the highlight of anything that happened to me in the war.

Kenneth W. Shubert-World War ll

Kenneth, a Canadian, served as a bombardier aboard a Halifax bomber assigned to destroy railroad targets. Like other Canadian and British airmen he flew many missions before the United States entered the war. During his final mission his plane was shot down over Belgium. He was fortunate to be found by local citizens who hid him from German soldiers. They did this at great peril to their own lives. His account demonstrates his appreciation for his fellow airmen and the kindness shown him by his Belgian friends.

As it turned out that night there was no haze and there was the biggest moon I had ever seen. Shortly after the bombing we were attacked by an enemy fighter. Being so low we could take very little evasive action and soon had two engines on fire and fire in the aircraft. At about twelve hundred feet the pilot  ordered the crew to bail out. He did not get out and was killed in the crash. In John 15: 13 we read that Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Our pilot did just that when he saved our six lives and lost his own. When we landed, we were scattered over about twenty miles. The wireless air gunner and I were not captured, but the other four were taken prisoner.

When I landed, a Belgian farmer, who had been awakened by the gun battle, came across the field where I was trying to bury my chute. After some conversation in sign language, he took me home. He had a meager house and little food. He had a wife, three daughters, and a son. They took me in as part of their family and shared all they had. They were in constant danger with me there, as the Gestapo was constantly searching for me. These good people would have been shot for harboring me if I had been found. I was with them for four months and came to appreciate and love them dearly. They also were ready to lay down their life for a friend.

To evade the Gestapo I often hid in the attic, where I sat and unstitched my parachute and Mae West (life jacket). The material was stuffed into pillows and after the war was made into dresses for the three daughters.

One day I was in the backyard and heard the father and mother excitedly speaking in loud tones in the front of the house. I immediately headed for the field to hide, as I could not make it to the attic. I realized it was a wide-open area with no hiding spot available. So I immediately entered the goat shed, a small six-by-seven-foot square room in the work shed, where I squeezed myself in the corner near the door. When I entered, the goat had remained quiet, although she had never been a great friend of mine. Since then I hold all goats in high esteem as she, no doubt, saved me and my family from the Gestapo.

When the Canadian Army came through the area, I was able to contact them and was flown back to Britain. I was eventually returned to Canada. Our squadron had taken heavy losses in 1943 and 1944, having lost 72 Halifax bombers, and out of 490 aircrews, 313 had died in action, 54 were missing, 105 had been taken prisoner, and 18 were returned safely after being shot down. I was one of the lucky ones.

Arthur K. Nishimoto-World War ll

As a lifelong U.S. citizen of Japanese ancestry, Arthur experienced the challenge that faced that faced this group of people during the war years. Yet, in spite of the prejudice and bigotry, he along with many others volunteered for duty. He was assigned to the famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This group was com­posed of Japanese-Americans who fought with honor in the European Theater:

During our training there were the inevitable few American soldiers (white Americans) who screamed to the high heavens about the “damned Japs.” As surely as one of them opened his mouth, he found a hard brown fist in it. For the one thing we would not tolerate was to be called “Japs.” We lived as Americans, thought as Americans, had traveled thousands of miles to fight for our county, and we asked to be treated as equals.

During the latter part of October and first week of November our “Mormon Boys” decided to take leave to Salt Lake City for a visit since none of us had been there before. We left for our “mission.” There were several in our group who wanted to be baptized at the Tabernacle. We were housed by members we had known when they were serving as missionar­ies in the Hawaiian Islands. We were welcomed and pleasantly surprised by their kind and gracious hospitality. Our short duration for a week or so was filled with interesting, joyous, and spiritual activities.

Roy Tsuya for instance won the “grand prize” when he and Wuta Terazawa, a former missionary who had served in Hawaii, decided to be married only a few hours after they met. It was “love at first sight,” according to Roy and Wuta. Without question they knew it was right and were married “for time and for all eternity” in the Salt Lake Temple. He told me,

“it was nine days after we met, we were married on Thursday, November 4, 1943, at the Salt Lal<:e Temple by Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Council of Twelve.”

I arrived in Salt Lake City a few days after they were mar­ried, and they met me at the Union Station with Wuta flashing me her wedding ring. I thought it was a joke because before the boys left, I had made arrangements for all of us to be housed at Wuta’s home. Well, I soon found that it was for real. They have now been married for sixty years since that miraculous occasion.

Another wonderful spiritual experience we enjoyed was when Tommy Horikami, Ramon Wasano, Tsugio Watanable, and Tetsuo Yanagida were baptized at the Tabernacle during our short stay there.

I had a most enjoyable and memorable time too. Someone had arranged for me to receive my patriarchal blessing from the Patriarch to the Church, Patriarch Joseph F. Smith. Soon after that, I was ushered into President George Albert Smith’s (President of the Quorum of the Twelve) office, who conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained me to the office of elder. I could not have been a happier young man, for I knew what my immediate future would be. I was going into combat, and I needed the blessings of the priesthood.

While there, several of us were invited to Emma Lucy Gates Bowen’s home, wife of Apostle Albert E. Bowen of the Council of Twelve, for brunch. What a lovely and gracious hostess she was. Not only did she feed us well, but she also sang and entertained us with her beautiful voice. She was Utah’s beloved songstress and a granddaughter of President Brigham Young.

We all had a most wonderful leave and departed for our camp in Mississippi.

On June 26, 1944, we went into our initial combat. The objective was to overtake the city of Belvedere. WE met fierce enemy resistance, but finally were able to gain victory. The battle of Velvedere was an outstanding American victory in the Rome to the Arno River campaign. That was my “baptism by fire.” The next battle was among all days on July 4, 1944, for Hill 140, a major German stronghold well entrenched on top of the hill looking down at us. Prior to attacking Hill 140, we were passing through a little village and were resting along-side the road when we heard enemy jeeps approaching us. We could not believe our eyes when we saw three jeeps with approximately a dozen German soldiers coming directly where we were. We immediately hid ourselves alongside the road, and when the first jeep came close to us, Sergeant Fred Ida who was at the head of the column halted them, and the rest of us jumped out on the road with our guns fixed on them. All three jeeps came to a screeching stop. The soldiers were alarmed that we were there. They perhaps thought the village was not occupied by the Americans. They immediately put their hands up to surrender, but one of them held a machine pistol in his hand as he raised it, and another jumped out of one of the jeeps and tried to make a run for it and that signaled us to open fire. I don’t remember how many were killed, but we did take those that were alive as prisoners.

I well remember one of the German soldiers who was shot was wounded severely. It was my first real close encounter with the enemy. Seeing him wounded and suffering, with sympathy in my heart, I thought I would put him out of his misery by one last bullet. My weapon was a .45-caliber submachine gun, and I did not want to use such a heavy weapon, so I asked one of the men to lend me his .30-caliber Ml rifle. I took careful aim standing above him and was about to pull the trigger when all of a sudden a strong feeling came over me with the thought: who am I to judge whether I should put him out of his misery or not. I could not pull the trigger. He soon died. I definitely learned a great lesson.

Horst K. Hilbert-World War ll

Drafted into the German military in 1939, Horst spent the first year as a construction worker. In 1940 he was assigned to a field unit at the Western Front. He participated in the conquest of France and afterward left with his unit for the invasion of Russia. While retreating from the Russian front he was captured and spent the final days of the war in an Allied POW camp. He went on to become a district president of the Church in occupied Germany before fleeing to the United States.

One early morning, January 6, 1942, I had to stand guard duty with a buddy, Hans Plank. We were standing beside a lit­tle shack, the straw roof covered with snow. A Russian machine gun started to shoot at us. I could see the tracers hitting the ground before my feet, then skipping off to the sky. Other rounds hit the straw roof, and I could see the bullets making rows of holes, making the snow coming down like sugar coming out of a bowl.

I was very afraid and since I was forbidden to leave the post, I wanted to pray. I could feel the power of the destroyer. But I could not utter one word of prayer; my tongue felt paralyzed. To think that the first words in my life were prayers on my mother’s lap. All I was able to say was that if my mother could pray for me right now, the Lord might hear the prayer of a righteous woman. With that thought, I looked to the east, and felt prompted to look north. When I did that and turned, a bullet passed, and in passing, hit the coat at my stomach. Had I not turned, it would have struck my stomach. After that incident the shooting stopped.

Some days later I received a letter from my mother. In the letter, she wrote that in the night of January 6 she woke up hearing me calling her “Mama.” She also heard the sound of shooting. She got up quickly, woke up my four sisters and said that they needed to pray fast, that I was in mortal danger, and needed their prayer. The five women knelt down, and my mother pleaded with the Lord to keep His protecting hand over me. After the prayer my mother told my sisters to go back to sleep and be of good cheer. I had been in danger, but the Lord helped me.

Virgil N Kovalenko-Vietnam War

As a native of Arizona, Virgil served in both the Korean and the Vietnam “Wars. During his Vietnam tour he was the political warfare advisor and community relations advisor assigned to the Political “Warfare Division, Vietnamese Air Force Logistics Command. At that time he was also the group leader of the Bien Hoa LDS Servicemen’s Group. Currently he is a Spanish professor and resides in Utah. He was a founding member of VASAA (Veterans’ Association for Service Activities Abroad), the LDS veterans’ association from 1982-2000. VASAA officially terminated all humanitarian projects and programs in a formal ceremony at Fort Douglass on June 6, 1998. Two years later, all legal activities ended and the organization was disbanded, having accomplished its major objectives.

A beautiful day for the most part, it is bright and hot. As I make my usual routine, I checked out the air force bus from the motor pool. We’ve taken to calling it the Mormon Battalion Bus Line on Sundays. It is kind of funny, in a way, because when I am driving, the other LDS men provide a buffer from the catcalls and comments of soldiers we pick up during our rounds. When those men complain and want to know why they can’t smoke or swear on the bus, our fellows tell them it’s a chapel bus for the day. “Oh,” say some, “is this the God Squad?”

Priesthood had seventeen present. Warren Soong conducted. As we were starting, Charles Merill, the district mission president and Wayne Heffords, a Seventy and district counselor drove up. They both addressed us and left some pamphlets with us along with more copies of the Book of Mormon. Sunday school saw twenty-two present including Phuong and Ky, our investigators. We had some kind of hassle with the Vietnamese gate guards, again, to get Phuong onto the base. This is not unusual, but it does bother us somewhat. I guess they think she’s a prostitute and don’t understand her desire to attend religious services with the Americans. Our sacrament meeting speakers were John Walton and Paul Simkins. John spoke of what the words of “Come, Come Ye Saints” mean to him, and Paul spoke of the meaning of Christmas to him, and he related the story of the Lord’s birth to his understanding. The singing tonight was rousing and wonderful. It really must have been something because there were quite a number of Vietnamese airmen standing outside the windows and doorways lis­tening and watching. With Brothers Chuck Lindquist and Nicholas North in the music department, we surely have some good singing going on now.

We had to adjourn quickly because of artillery activity. While driving on the army side of this big base complex and making the rounds of the smaller camps, we heard and saw some rockets explode on the air force base. The sirens began screaming and people were running every­where. What a heck of a position to be in, driving a big bus-a great big target, friends, and full of the Saints. Peter Bell was standing behind me and calling out the names of the camps. When a man would stand up, Peter yelled, “Stand in the door,” and when I came skidding into the area, Peter put his foot on the man’s rear and pushed as he hollered, “Airborne!” I drove fast and with the lights off because of the sirens and rockets. I quickly got everyone back to his hooch or unit, in a driving rain, no less with lots of lightning. I made a run for the guard shack or gate leading from the army to the air force side of the base. The guard stopped me there, one corporal with his M 16 at port arms. I yelled at him to get out of the way but he told me in no uncertain terms and with much profanity to move my blankety-blank bus off from his road. I protested again, and he leveled his gun at the bus and me. Nothing to do but to drive off the pavement, down a gully, and into plain sight in a field, which I was certain was mined. So there we were, in the rain, with lightning, rockets exploding, and artillery blasting, and flare guns going off near us. The guys at the guard shack set up a mortar and were firing from that position, which was interesting for us because of the concussion effect, especially in the rain.

I don’t think I was frightened for my safety or of Merwin Ruesh who was on the bus with me. Peter is a seasoned Green Beret so there was no worry about him. I was concerned, how- ever, about getting the bus back to the motor pool. What was amazing to me was the calm which came over me. When Merwin asked me what we were going to do, I told him, “Well, we can’t go anywhere for now, so just start compiling the group reports for the district.” About that time, I sensed something extraordinary happening. It seemed that from behind the rear of the bus a giant, transparent bubble came over the top of the bus and closed in directly in front of us. We could hear and. see everything that was going on. I watched a VC [Viet Cong] rocket explode inside one of the revetments where the F-5 aircraft are sheltered. Our side of the base was taking a pounding. About twenty minutes later, the all clear sounded and we took off in a hurry. I backed the bus up onto the road, not daring to attempt turning around. Just as I fired up the engine, the bubble I saw retreated back over the bus and disappeared. I even looked in the rear and side view mir­rors to see if I could watch it. It just disappeared! During that time we had waited, I had given Merwin the minutes of our firebase trip, which I instructed him should be entered in the group’s history. The time in the bubble was well spent, if a lit­tle on edge.

Larry (Lucky) Chesley-Vietnam War

Larry, also known as Lucky to many, joined the Air Force in 1956 He was shot down in 1966 while flying over Vietnam and spent the next 2,495 days, just short of seven years, as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

In the fall of 1965 I was stationed in Florida and volun­teered to go to Vietnam. We went to Georgia on our way to Vietnam. While we were there, we would go into the officers’ club to enjoy ourselves, and I would stand off by myself and watch people. One particular night I was looking at the crowd and my eyes stopped on this young man and the Spirit told me that this man would not be coming home. I thought “What a horrible thought!” and dismissed it. My eyes were moving around the room and they stopped on another young man and the Spirit said he’s not coming home and then the Spirit said, “And neither are you.” On our very first mission over Vietnam that first man was shot down, in March the second man was shot down, and in April I was shot down.

We were on a low level mission over Vietnam going 760 miles per hour. I grabbed the handle to eject myself, but it didn’t work, so I reached for the rings above my shoulders to pull a face curtain over my face to block the wind, but I couldn’t find the rings, so I reached up with one hand to pull a ring down, and I finally ejected myself. It knocked me unconscious and broke my back in three places. I floated to the ground very quickly and I could see the Vietnamese coming to capture me and they did almost immediately. They stripped me of all my clothes down to my garments and my socks. They didn’t know how to use buttons, zip­pers, or snaps. They just cut my clothes from my body with a machete. There I was, sur­rounded by the enemy … with a broken back, in my underwear, scared to death, and some­thing inside of me said “Larry, pray.” Prayer wasn’t a new thing to me. I had prayed every morning and every night for years as a young boy before I had ever got into this predicament, but I didn’t know what to pray for. So I kind of dismissed it but the feeling came really strong, “Larry, Pray.” So I looked toward heaven and said a very simple prayer. I said “Father in Heaven, I may have to walk a long way and I can’t do it without my boots.” Within one minute they brought back my boots-the only things they ever returned to me. I didn’t know what a great blessing it was to have those boots until some days later when we reached Hanoi and saw men who had walked to prison barefoot and had worn the meat off of their feet all the way to the bone. And then I knew what a great blessing it was to have those boots.

We marched for about five miles until we got to a truck. They threw me in the back of the truck, tied my arms behind my back, tied my wrists together, and tied them to the top of the bed of the truck leaving me hanging with my arms behind my back, and we started down the road. And again I said, “Dear Father in Heaven, this is killing me. Can’t you bless me?” Within about five miles that knot came undone on top of the truck, I fell into the truck and I was able to loosen the cords and get circulation back in my hands. Another simple little prayer and a simple little answer.

The next day we stopped, and I was guarded by a Vietnamese soldier. He was very sadistic; he had an AK-47 automatic weapon, but he also had a stick about eighteen inches long and an inch or an inch and a half wide and he loved to beat me with that stick. He beat me across my head and shoulders, and even my broken back, but he mostly beat my arms. He beat my arms until they swelled up to be three to four times their normal size, and I still carry a scar on my left arm from his beatings. That night as I knelt to pray I said, “Dear Father in Heaven, isn’t there somewhere you could send this sucker, like the front lines or something?” The next morning the guard was gone.

Within twenty-four hours I had asked for three little things and I had gotten all of them.

In 1969 they moved a group of us out of Hanoi to a camp called Son Tay. Son Tay was the worst camp, of the nine camps, I ever lived in. Every night and every morning I prayed individually, we prayed as a room and we prayed as a whole camp that the Lord would move us to a better camp. Finally the Lord said okay. On July 14 they came in with trucks, we rolled up our gear, we got in the trucks and we went to the new camp. It was a better camp but compared to anything you can think of it was still hell. But it was so much better than the hell we had been in, we liked the new hell. That night we got on our knees and we thanked our Father in H eaven for the blessing of being in a new camp. On November 22 of that same year, the Green Berets, America’s finest fighting men, crashed in the Son Tay camp ; and liberated an empty camp. I would have come home two and a half years sooner if God hadn’t answered my prayers. I learned a great lesson. I had been taught it all my life. Thy will be done at the end of my prayers. I say that with more fervency than I ever have in the past when I pray now.

I received no medical treatment for my broken back. I rode twenty-one days on bombed out roads, and went through my initial torture sessions with a broken back. I know that God lives and that H e is my Father and that H e knows me by my first name. When I got home and they took X-rays of my back, they said that yes my back had been broken in three places and that there was nothing they could do for me. It had healed perfectly. A muscle had grown down the right side of my back, about the size of my forearm to hold it as a brace.

I only cried twice in prison other than when I was being tortured. The first time was when my mom wrote me and told me my wife had divorced me, and the second time was in March 1966. The pain had overcome me. I started to cry. My roommate’s name was Jim Ray. Jim saw that I was crying so he crawled up into the window of our room and started screaming for a doctor. We heard a guard coming so Jim got back down off of the window and onto his own bunk. The guard came in and started beating him and so Jim jumped off of his bunk, picked up the guard and threw him out of the door and up against the wall. The guard took off his rubber sandal and started shaking it at Jim. The guard was probably 5’4″ and Jim was 6’2″. The guard didn’t speak English and Jim didn’t speak Vietnamese. Jim said, “If you hit me with that I’ll take it away from you and beat the hell out of you with it.” The guard slammed the door and left.

When the guard left, Jim and I knelt down by our bunks and took turns praying. Jim is a Baptist and I am LDS. We prayed that the Lord would soften the hearts of our enemies. The first rule of prison was eat everything you get and the second rule was never hit a guard. We heard the commotion coming, and we knew what was about to happen. An English􀁨speaking officer came in and told Jim that he would be severely punished because he couldn’t hit a guard and go unpunished. H e ranted and raved and after a few minutes shut the door, locked it, and left. Jim and ·1 got on our knees again and prayed that our Father in H eaven would have mercy on our souls. The guards didn’t come back that night which was a good sign. The next morning was Tet. Tet is their New Year’s. At their holidays they would usually take us out and give us a hot cup of tea and a sugar cookie. This day was no different. They came and took Jim and me out of our room into a room that was decorated. They gave .us our cup of tea and cookie and we ate it and were about ready to go back to our room and the English­speaking officer said to Jim, “You can’t hit our guards and go unpunished. Go stand in the corner for one minute.” That was his punishment. Jim and I believe that God, who can touch the hearts of our enemies, soften them, and that is what H e did for us. The importance of that story is Jim loved me; Jim loved me more than he loved himself. And there aren’t very many people like that today.

Thomas Neibaur-World War l

On the afternoon of 16 October 1918, when the Cote-de-Chatillon had just been gained after bitter fighting and the summit of that strong bulwark in the Kriemhilde Stellung was being organized, Pvt. Neibaur was sent out on patrol with his automatic rifle squad to enfilade enemy machinegun nests. As he gained the ridge he set up his automatic rifle and was directly thereafter wounded in both legs by fire from a hostile machinegun on his flank. The advance wave of the enemy troops, counterattacking, had about gained the ridge, and although practically cut off and surrounded, the remainder of his detachment being killed or wounded, this gallant soldier kept his automatic rifle in operation to such effect that by his own efforts and by fire from the skirmish line of his company, at least 100 yards in his rear, the attack was checked. The enemy wave being halted and lying prone, four of the enemy attacked Pvt. Neibaur at close quarters. These he killed. He then moved alone among the enemy lying on the ground by him, in the midst of the fire from his own lines, and by coolness and gallantry captured eleven prisoners at the point of his pistol and, although painfully wounded, brought them back to our lines. The counterattack in full force was arrested to a large extent by the single efforts of this soldier, whose heroic exploits took place against the skyline in full view of his entire battalion.

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