Faithful Veterans

On this Veterans Day – the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I – we at Uplift send our thanks to all those who have served in the various branches of the US military, brave men and women who were willing to put their lives on the line for the rest of us.

Since this site is dedicated to sharing uplifting stories of faith, I will share a couple of experiences of faith and answered prayers from those who have fought in US wars:

“Shortly after arriving in Vietnam as an Air Force pilot, Larry Chesley looked around at the other airmen in his unit, his eyes stopping on a young man. ‘And the Spirit said, “He’s not coming home.” … I dismissed it and looked around the room and my eyes stopped on another man, and the Spirit said, “He’s not coming home.” … Then the Spirit said, “And neither are you.”’

“On their very first mission over North Vietnam, in December 1965, that first man was shot down. In March, the second man was shot down, and on April 16, 1966, Chesley was shot down.”

Chesley was taken prisoner and didn’t see his home again for seven long years. During that time he continued to pray in faith and received tangible answers to those prayers. He was blessed to retain his boots in the jungle when most prisoners were forced to go barefoot. He experienced horrible living conditions, was given very little food, suffered severe illness and lost a third of his body weight. But he felt he was blessed to be tortured only nine times instead of the three or four hundred times many prisoners underwent. He clung to life, finding comfort in the gospel, feeling protected and knowing he would eventually return home. “I believe deeply in my religion,” Chesley said. “It was one of the strengths I clung to during those dark days.”

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Rachel Neff served as Army military intelligence officer in Afghanistan. One day she “received reports of a district center that had been overrun and a group of soldiers that was cut off from the base and under attack from insurgents.”

Rachel’s responsibility was to analyze the reports and determine where to send rescue helicopters. She “felt the weight of others’ lives on her shoulders; too far away meant the soldiers would have to fight their way to the helicopters, but too close and the helicopters might be headed straight into an ambush. With conflicting information, Neff was unsure what to do. With the clock ticking, she left her office and went down the hall to the bathroom. ‘I would just get on my knees and pray that I would be able to do my job and that because I would be able to do my job, people would be safe,’” she said.

“Neff was prompted to go to division headquarters— skipping much of the chain of command, which is a big no-no—and ask them for assistance. She ran the entire way there. ‘This is all happening with the knowledge that people are literally fighting for their lives,’ she said. ‘So it’s critical that you act quickly.’ She explained her situation and asked them if they had anything that could help her confirm or deny the information. She was rejected. ‘I walked out of the office, and I went into the bathroom in division headquarters, I got on my knees again, and I prayed: ‘Why am I over here if the answer’s no?’ And I got the response, ‘Go back.’” Despite her previous rejection, she returned and persisted, offering other suggestions, and was able to gain their assistance so she could get the intelligence she needed. She again raced back to her office to work out a new plan and relay the information to her commander. Eight hours of fighting later, all the soldiers and pilots returned unharmed.”

On this Veterans Day, we are grateful to those who have shared their faith-filled stories from wartime experiences. There is so much we can all learn from them. We salute you with the respect and gratitude you deserve!

Excerpts can be found at http://www.ldsliving.com/Mortars-Miracles-Mormons-in-the-Military/s/70820