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Military Illustrations

  • Airport metal detectorsOn a business trip, my father approached a security checkpoint at the airport. The National Guard shift was rotating, and a guard, in full uniform, was in line in front of him.

    As with everybody else, the soldier was ordered to go through the metal detector. So, as he did so, he handed his M-16 rifle to security personnel along with other items such as handcuffs and a flashlight.

    Still, the alarm sounded when he walked through. Further inspection revealed a little Swiss army knife inside one of his pockets.

    "Sorry, Sir, but this item is prohibited," security said to the soldier.

    Then, taking the knife away, the airport worker handed him back the M-16.

  • Life saving beltToday's Illustration "An Honest Day's Work" was one I read on www.sermoncentral.com

    The USS Astoria (C-34) was the first U.S. cruiser to engage the Japanese during the Battle of Savo Island, a night action fought the 8th to 9th of August 1942. Although she scored two hits on the Imperial flagship Chokai, the Astoria was badly damaged and sank shortly after noon, on 9th of August.

    About 0200 hours a young Midwesterner, Signalman 3rd Class, Elgin Staples, was swept overboard by the blast when the Astoria's number one eight-inch gun turret exploded. Wounded in both legs by shrapnel and in semi-shock, he was kept afloat by a narrow life belt that he managed to activate with a simple trigger mechanism.

  • military manWhen my best friend James came home on his first Army leave, my little brother asked him what he did in the service.

    "I do calisthenics, shoot guns and follow orders," James replied.

    Walking in town that day, James and I ran into a buddy who also asked him what he did in the Army. James gave the same reply:

    "I do calisthenics, shoot guns and follow orders."

    A while later, we met a former classmate, an attractive woman, and she asked the same question. This time, James said,

    "I'm studying communications, learning foreign languages and traveling around the world."

  • Christmas 1914

    sepia bellThe war in Europe was only four months old, yet it had already reached a savagery unknown until that time. After the initial success of the German army, the war became a desperate trench struggle with a very high casualty count. The promise of early success seemed like a faraway dream. The snow and the cold of 1914 made things even worse, but as the darkness fell on Christmas Eve something happened that would never occur again.

    Sir Edward Hulse, a 25-year-old lieutenant, wrote in his diary about this strange occurrence.

    "A scout named F. Marker went out and met a German Patrol and was given a glass of whiskey and some cigars, and a message was sent back, saying that if we didn't fire at them they would not fire at us." That night, where the fighting only five days earlier had been fierce, suddenly just stopped.

    The following morning, Christmas day, German soldiers walked towards the British lines while the British came out to greet their enemy. They exchanged souvenirs with each other and the British gave the German soldiers plum pudding as a Christmas greeting. Soon arrangements were made to bury the dead British soldiers whose bodies were lying in no man's land. The Germans brought the bodies over and prayers were exchanged.

    The spirit of Christmas overcame the horror of war as peace broke out across the front. The Germans, who previously were viewed as demonized beasts by the British and French, almost always initiated it. This contact was followed by song. The Germans sang 'Die Wacht Am Rhein' and the British soldiers sang 'Christians Wake.' It was in many ways a miracle. Sapper J. Davey, a British soldier, wrote this in his diary. "Most peculiar Christmas I've ever spent and ever likely to. One could hardly believe the happenings." Hate, for a moment, disappeared along the Western front.

    Another British soldier, Second Lt. Dougan Chater wrote, "About 10 o'clock this morning I was peeping over the parapet when I saw a German, waving his arms, and presently two of them got out of their trenches and came towards ours. We were just going to fire on them when we saw that they had no rifles so one of our men went out to meet them and in about two minutes the ground between the two lines of trenches was swarming with men and officers of both sides, shaking hands and wishing each other a happy Christmas." This continued for nearly an hour before their superiors ordered the men back to their trenches.

    The powers to be objected to this display of humanity by the common soldier. For a brief moment, their gesture ended a war that the leaders of both sides would continue to fight for nearly four more years. Millions more would die, indeed many of the men who greeted each other would perish, but their spirits live on in history as an example to all of us. We have much more in common with each other than the differences that divide us. Peace is better than war. Understanding is more important than division. Love can overcome hate. Merry Christmas!

    Sources: The First World War, Martin Gilbert

  • On shore leave in Mississippi, 4 officers were surprised.A US Navy cruiser pulled into port in Mississippi for a week's shore leave.

    The first evening, the Captain was more than a little surprised to receive the following letter from the wife of a wealthy plantation owner:

    "Dear Captain, Thursday will be my daughter Melinda's, coming of age party. I would like you to send four well mannered, handsome, unmarried officers. They should arrive at 8:00 p.m. prepared for an evening of polite southern conversation and dance with lovely young ladies. One last point: No, Mexican's. We don't like Mexican's."

  • hospital roomA nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. "Your son is here," she said to the old man.

    She had to repeat the words several times before the patient's eyes opened. Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man's limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement. The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night, the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man's hand and offering him words of love and strength.

  • greece ancientIn ancient Sparta, citizens were noted for economy of speech.

    Legend has it that Philip of Macedonia, storming the gates of Sparta, sent a message to the besieged king..."If we capture your city we will burn it to the ground."

    A one-word answer came back:

    "If."

  • dry cleanersOne day, at the dry-cleaning shop of a local air force base, I overheard a young airman describe in great detail how he wanted his uniform cleaned and pressed.

    When he finished, the counter clerk asked, "Are you getting an award, or do you have an important military function to attend?"

    "Nothing like that," the airman said. "I'm going home on leave, and my little brother is taking me to his second-grade class for show-and-tell."

  • helicopter pilotMy youngest brother Tony had just completed Army basic training and was on leave prior to his first tour in Germany. I am an Army National Guard pilot, and my other brother is my crew chief. Since we were headed to the air base where Tony was to catch his overseas transport, we offered to take him.

  • body piercingI am a 3-tour veteran of Vietnam and frown on body piercing (anywhere).

    As I was approaching Vietnam by air in our squadron, I looked down at the jungle and although I couldn't see anything going on, I knew there was danger there.

    I tried to pray, but my mind was so taken up with what was going on, I couldn't. The only prayer that I could come up with was,

    "Lord, I know you made me with the exact number of holes that you wanted me to have. I ask you to let me leave Vietnam with the same exact number!"

    Mac McComas, MCPO USN, Ret. (Used with Permission)

  • airplaneMy friend, an ex-Marine Aviator wanted to show off his new twin-engine plane. I was riding along as he put it through its paces.

    Suddenly, we were caught in a violent thunderstorm, with lightning crashing all around us.

    Next, we lost the radio and most of the instruments.

    As we were being tossed around in the sky, George said, "Uh-oh!" Fearing the worst, I asked, "What's wrong now?"

    George replied, "I got the hiccups. Do something to scare me."

  • fish bassA young soldier was stationed at Myrtle Beach, S.C., where he spent his spare time fishing in the backwaters of the Intercoastal Waterway. Soon he became a guide of sorts for some senior non-commissioned officers.

    Once, a chief master sergeant hooked a 20-pound striped bass. After he reeled the fish onto the boat, he slipped the hook out of its mouth and released it back into the water.

    He noticed the puzzled look on the face of the young soldier.

    "Rank does have its privileges. I can't keep a fish that has more stripes than I do," he explained.

  • fishingWhen I was stationed at Myrtle Beach, S.C., I spent my spare time fishing in the backwaters of the Intracoastal Waterway. Soon I became a guide of sorts for some senior non-commissioned officers.

    Once, a chief master sergeant hooked a 20-pound striped bass. After he reeled the fish onto the boat, he slipped the hook out of its mouth and released it back into the water.

    He must have noticed the puzzled look on my face.

    "Rank does have its privileges. I can't keep a fish that has more stripes than I do," he explained.

  • bankA RETIRED Navy admiral, my father began a second career working in a bank. One morning, while he prepared his desk for the day, he was approached by a young officer from the nearby Naval base.

    "Sorry, but this department isn't open yet," Dad said.

    "But it's nine o'clock!" protested the officer.

    My father didn't look at his watch. Instead, he surveyed his customer's uniform.

    "Ensign," he snapped, "I'll decide when it's nine o'clock!"

  • barracksRod and one of his fellow soldiers were assigned to wax the floors of their barracks. They'd heard that if they got the wax really hot, it would just glide across the floor, cutting their labor time in half. Unfortunately, as they were heating the can of wax with a cigarette lighter, it caught on fire, setting off alarms and attracting firetrucks, ambulances and the police.

    Rod had to report to his sergeant's office immediately. Assuming he was in big trouble, he took a deep breath as he faced his superior. But before Rod could say a word, the sergeant simply muttered,

    "Been there, done that.

    You're free to go."

  • marching soldiersAs the regiment moved out, the crowd cheered. One soldier asked another, "Who are all those cheering people?"

    The veteran answered, "They're the ones who aren't going."