BIMI

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our hut where we slept. Gary, Eddie, and I stood there for moment talking to the MP when another MP pulled up in a Jeep with a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on the back. He asked us where we were going. We told him we were going to the other side of the base—and Bien Hoa was a huge base. The Mp told us to get in the Jeep and he would give us a ride. Gary and Eddie climbed in and said, “Jim, get in so we can go.” I hesitated for a moment and then asked the MP if he were going all the way across the base. He replied, “No, I am going only half way.” I told Gary and Eddie we should wait since he was only going half way. They said, “No, let’s go that far and then walk the rest of the way.” For some reason, I knew I should not get in that Jeep and I didn’t as they drove away, I waved and said, “I’ll see you back at the hut.” I waited for a minute or two and finally caught a ride that took me all the way across the base. I had only been in the hut a couple of minutes when the North Vietnamese began their assault with a barrage of rockets and mortars. We took cover in a bunker. Sitting in that bunker, the ground felt like it lifted up several feet each time a mortar would explode. I could hear the groans, the cries, and the screams of grown men who were badly wounded by shrapnel—some had died. As I sat there in that bunker with my knees pulled up to my chest, my head down between my knees, and my hands over my ears because of the deafening explosions, I did the only thing I could think of—and that was to pray to God. I was unsaved and knew nothing about God or prayer but somehow I knew that’s what I had to do. In a few minutes I heard the sound of small arms fire which meant the North Vietnamese were overrunning the base. None of us had been issued any M-16s, and we had no way to defend ourselves. I knew any moment that a North Vietnamese soldier could throw a hand grenade in the bunker. All of us were utterly helpless and hopeless without any means of defense. Forty-eight years later, I still remember the exact word I uttered to God. I said, “God, this is it. This is where I am going to die.” All of a sudden like a flash of lightening, I heard the thunderous roar of planes overhead; F-4 Phantoms, C47s, and helicopter gunships had come to our defense. The attack was driven back. I went back into our hut and after a few moments of time, the door opened. A soldier stepped in and inquired, “Does anyone in here know Eddie and Gary?” I responded, “I do, we just had breakfast together.” He replied, “They were killed by a rocket or a mortar.” I was stunned and saddened. The next day I walked by the area where they had been killed and spoke to the soldier who took care of the body bags. There was a large crater in the concrete on the flight line where they had died shortly after stepping out of that jeep. As I reported for work that day (May 13), our NCO informed us of another intelligence briefing informing us that the North Vietnamese were planning another attack. We needed additional jet fighters on alert—armed, refueled, and ready for an immediate launch for an air strike. My NCO looked at me and said, “Jim, get your plane ready for alert.” I walked out to my jet fighter to prepare it for an air strike in the event that one was needed. I refueled the plane, had it loaded with bombs, napalm, 20 MM cannon shell, and completed my pre-flight inspection. A Jeep pulled up and dropped off my pilot—a Major. I assisted him in getting his parachute and helmet up to the cockpit. Together we completed our walk around inspection and pulled all pins on the bombs and landing gear. The pilot climbed up into the cockpit and started up the plane to check all gauges. He shut the plane down. Everything checked out OK. The plane was ready to launch for an immediate air strike. While the pilot was still seated in the cockpit, I climbed up the ladder to ask him several questions in case we had another rocket and mortar attack. As I stood on the ladder on the side of the fuselage looking down into the cockpit at my pilot, I said, “Sir, if there is another rocket and mortar attack, do we run to the bunker?” “No, Sarge, we do not run to the bunker in the event of a rocket or mortar attack.” I then said, “Sir, if the North Vietnamese drop rockets or mortars on the runway, you won’t be able to take off.” He replied, “Sarge, if I can’t take off on the runway, I will take off on the taxiway.” While he was still seated in the cockpit and I was still standing on the ladder looking down into the cockpit at him, I noticed that he turned his head in a northeasterly direction and pointed with an outstretched right hand and an outstretched index finger. What was he pointing at in that direction? From my vantage point standing on the ladder, I had a clear view of the northeasterly direction. What was out there? I could clearly see the taxiway and the runway. I could see elephant grass beyond the runway. I could see the jungle beyond the elephant grass. My pilot was still pointing. What else was out there that was so important? There was an encampment of the 101 st Airborne Screaming Eagles. There were times when the 101 st Airborne would call us for air strikes as they engaged the North Vietnamese in battle. Pointing with that outstretched hand in the direction of the 101st Airborne, the Major said, “Sarge, if a call comes in from the field, someone out there needs me, and no matter what happens I am depending on you to get me off the ground.” As my pilot uttered those words to me, he never took his eyes off the field. Those words have stood me in good stead for 48 years. I am in a different warfare now—Satan’s war against Christ and the eternal souls of men and women. Forty-eight years later, the Lord uses those same words to speak to me: “Jim, a call has come in from the field; someone out there needs you, and I am depending on you to get my work off the ground.” Dear friend, God uses human instruments to get His work done. Christian, a call has come in from the field; someone out there needs you, and God is depending on you to get His work off the ground. Are you the kind of Christian that God can depend on to get His work off the ground? —Remember, somebody out there needs you!