I was born in Waynesboro, Virginia in 1947. I was born into the Family of God, the Father, by the power of the resurrected Christ when I was eight years old through the witness of a white haired bible study teacher named Mom Cole. She taught some neighborhood women one night of the week in my mother’s home. I was eleven years old when I received the anointing of the Holy Spirit after listening and praying with four young men who were led by a man named Bobby Ewing. They came to my mother’s home in Hampton, Virginia from Waco, Texas. That same year I was elected President of my 6th grade class and did very well in school while witnessing to my classmates and leading some of my friends to Christ. Things were really looking up for me. The young men from Waco helped a minister named Tom Jones establish a church named New Covenant, which is still in existence today at 1079 Big Bethel Rd. in Hampton, Virginia.
During my early teens I sank into the trap of disbelieving everything, which could not be proven by the science of man. This error was reinforced by the influence of a high school biology teacher, but the error, itself, was my responsibility and my choice. It was a choice I consciously made. I said in my heart that I would prove that Jesus was not God and the savior of the world by performing a very simple act. That act would be to do the following. It is written (John 10:28-29) that no man can pluck one of God’s own from his hand. I reasoned that I would prove that statement to be false by removing my own life from his hand and by doing that, I would be able to prove that the statements of the bible were not the divine word of God. In my troubled mind, this would disprove everything the bible has to say, including Jesus being who he said he was. It was as if a switch had been flipped in my mind, by a dark side of my personality, which simply took over and suppressed the good things Christ had been doing in my life.
The world soon became a very dark place for me. Today, when I read the sixth chapter of Hebrews, I don’t have to ponder its meaning, because I have lived those verses. Whatever I built during the next 28 years of rebellion was completely burned up. I built and it burned. I built again, and it burned up again. Time and time again, the earth of my life was spared, to the last particle of dust, while all that grew on it was burned to ashes. The ashes would simply blow away in the wind until nothing was left. Have you ever noticed though, how fertile the earth becomes after a forest fire? It provides a richness, for supporting life, that is non-existent in a mature forest. (Heb. 6: 4-8) By the time my 18th birthday rolled around, the die was cast. Excuses had become a way of life and the vain imaginations of my mind replaced reality. I became friends with four troubled youths even more troubled than myself. Although a terrible depression had set in, I still graduated with honors from high school. I was looking forward to college and the freedom it would bring.
Because my parents did not have the money to pay for college, I needed all the monetary help I could get. I had worked every summer since grade school on my Grandfather’s farm in western Virginia and he had given me the proceeds of the sale of one calf a year. This would help a lot but I could always use more financial help. When I learned the ROTC (Reserve Officer training Corp.) program at Virginia Tech was paying a small salary for members of the Military Corp., I signed up. A co-op student who worked with my mother, supposedly told her, (My mother is not one who always got her facts straight) that I would only have to attend drill once a week and weekend training once a month. I expected it to be similar to the National Guard, and my mother encouraged this false idea, yet she discouraged me from going to the orientation, where I could have discovered the truth about the mistake I was about to make before it was too late.
That assumption I made about the Corps at Virginia Tech was not true. Instead of being similar to the National Guard, it was very similar to the military training program at West Point. Freshmen were called Rats and were harassed night and day. We were given no freedom whatsoever. I immediately asked for a transfer to the civilian side of campus. After six weeks, I got an audience with the Dean of Admissions, who had the authority to grant this request. The answer he gave me still rings in my ears today. “Son”, he said. “I went through the Corps here at Tech. If it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for you.” His mind was made up and so was mine. I requested a termination form and signed it in front of him. At this point, the angry Dean spoke into being a curse upon my life, although I did not recognize it as such at the time, and I am sure he did not mean it as such. He, said, "Son this is a decision which you will regret for the rest of your life". He also said I would not be allowed to return to Virginia Tech for a minimum of one year. The Dean's curse was partially right. I did regret the decision to quit school until later in my life, when I returned to my Heavenly Father's house. No curses are allowed in His house. Only peace and joy and fulfillment through the power of The Holy Ghost exist there. At this point in my life, however, the demons that had plagued me must have jumped for joy, because in less than one year I was drafted and on the way to the jungles of Vietnam to be assigned to the 1/18th Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division. (Only two out of forty recruits in basic training were assigned to advanced infantry training and I was one of those two.) This meant the odds of my name later appearing on that black granite memorial in D. C. had just increased greatly, compared to the average service member, since, as a front line soldier, I would continually be placed in harms way.
Several months, after arriving at my unit in Vietnam, we started night maneuvers, associated with some of the larger operations of the war. "Junction City" was the name of one of these campaigns. During the beginning stages of these operations there was a lot of confusion because our unit kept getting lost. This caused us to come under friendly fire in at least one instance because we failed to link up with other units at the right location on the map. We were mistaken for the enemy and we were fired upon by other units in our own division. Command realized something needed to be done. I had done a very good job of keeping my squad sized patrols on course, so I and two friends were chosen to lead the entire battalion during night movements, which seemed good to me. It was just the kind of job I was suited for. I would be in control of the entire movement of hundreds of men, and more importantly, to self centered me, I would also be in charge of my own destiny. The officers in charge had all the responsibility. If something went wrong, they would get the blame. All I had to do was make sure we didn't get lost. What a deal. Our Commanding Officer was Lt. Col Richard Cavazos. Little did I know, that the Holy Spirit had ordained this legendary combat leader to be in command of our unit at this very instant in time. He would make decisions, in those deadly months, which would not only save my life but many other lives as well, while delivering defeat after defeat to the enemy. Of course, you will never hear about this winner of two Distinguished Service Crosses when the war in Vietnam is being discussed because this remarkable American doesn't fit the public narratives.
I was told the average length of time a point man lasted before being wounded or killed was twenty days in Vietnam, although I have no way of proving or disproving that statement. Recently, using the internet, I counted 47 killed in action during my tour of duty (one year) within my battalion of around 400. Many more than that were wounded. I walked point positions many times during my tour of duty for almost nine months, mostly in squad sized security patrols, but as I said before, I also lead the entire Battalion on several night marches.
During those deadly months, the Holy Spirit directed my path, in many different ways, through many different people, at critical times, preserving my life. Though I didn’t recognize his voice or pray a single time, his presence never left me. Our unit never got lost while I was on point leading the way. In one incident, I had to argue against my squad leader, who wanted to take us in the totally opposite direction, from the course in which we were suppose to follow. I refused to follow his instructions and the entire squad backed me up. He finally gave in. I gained a lot of respect from him when he finally realized the mistake he had been prevented from making. Sometimes we would move on moonless nights, when it was so dark, it was impossible to see a hand in front of one’s own face. GPS did not exist in those days. The only navigation tools available to us were a compass and maps. On one such night, I was challenged by my new platoon leader. He nervously halted the column, looked at his map and then looked at me. He then said, "You say we are at such and such a check point, where, according to the map, there is a large statue of Buda. I don't see that statue. Are you sure we are not lost?" "Sir, I don't know anything about a Buda statue", I replied, "But I know we have arrived at the correct check point". Before the lieutenant could respond to me, a man standing beside him shined his red lens flash light ahead of us and to the left, through the dense jungle under growth. About five yards away covered in jungle vines, looking like something from an Indiana Jones movie, was a large stone statue of Buda. The lieutenant never questioned my navigation skills again. Years later, I bought fifty acres of wooded land to hunt on in East Texas and got lost on it several times in broad daylight. Who do you think except the Holy Spirit could have given me such confidence to lead my entire unit, guiding us through that dark time with such success?
Our battalion performed feats that earned each man in the entire unit a bronze star medal. The feats performed by our unit, were boosted time and time again by the incredible command decisions of Korean veteran, Richard Cavazos. Richard later made four star general. I recently learned from a conversation with Richard, that the entire unit received a unit citation equivalent to a silver star, You may find a description of one of these battles online if you goggle the battle at Loc Ninh in late October of 1967. Brig. Gen. James Shelton wrote, what I believe, is a very accurate description of Richard's combat command capabilities in his book, "The Beast Was Out There". You may read this at http://www.iam777.org/cavazos.htm .
The following story is just one of many of those encounters where the Holy Spirit intervened to save not only my life but the lives of others around me.
On June 17, 1967, my unit, the 1/18th Infantry Battalion was guarding a large 1st Infantry Division air strip at Lai Khe. During this time, 1/16th Infantry of the same division, the Big Red One, was ambushed by between 800 and 2000 enemy troops of the 271st NVA regiment in what was later called the battle of Xom Bo II. David Hearn, a forward observer, later wrote a book about it. They were hit while the 1/16th and elements of the 2/28th were moving on foot from one location to another to establish an NDP., during a search and destroy mission. The clearing, where the hostile forces waited in ambush had been marked and targeted by supporting fire from their mortars, setting two to three hundred yards inside the jungle curtain. Enemy snipers tied themselves to the tops of huge trees overlooking the clearing in order to shoot down on the Americans.
When word came for my unit to saddle up, we were some distance from the ambushed 1st/16th. We jumped into trucks and headed for the landing strip where Huey helicopters were already lined up on the air strip to take us by squads to the landing zone (LZ). While sitting to the side of my chopper, waiting for word to board, the door gunner jumped out and ran to the back of his chopper to check something near the rear rotor blade, like he had probably done a hundred times before. This time he forgot to duck and the tail rotor blade knocked his head off. In less than five minutes his limp body was placed in a body bag and carted off. Another gunner took his place. A friend in my unit, Dennis Winstead from Norfolk, Va., whom remarkably went all the way with me through both basic training, advanced infantry training (AIT) and then was assigned to the same unit in Nam, extended his tour for a door gunner's job, just to have a clean, dry bed to sleep in at night. Later I found out in a conversation with his daughter that Dennis had been shot down three times while performing his duties as a door gunner. Dennis Winstead was one of the bravest men I knew. His ability to detect enemy treats and eliminate them without hesitation was uncanny. He saved a lot of his fellow soldiers from dying while he was in the infantry and I am sure he saved even more as a door gunner on a helicopter gunship. Dennis died January 18th, 2015.
what seemed like forever, word finally came to board the Hueys.
After we loaded on, each chopper moved up and off the air strip forming
lines not unlike giant droning bees at eight to ten thousand feet.
The sky had never been so blue and the earth below was carpeted with
a rich emerald green. There is a high that comes with flying into a
hot LZ that I can't fully explain. Within minutes a few moving
specks could be seen on the horizon ahead of us. The specks grew
larger as our formation of weather beaten Hueys drew closer. Those
specks soon proved to be the phantom jets that had arrived before
us. Air support was working the area over with napalm, rockets, and
Gatling guns. I will never forget the brilliance of the huge orange
fire balls of napalm contrasted against the green of the jungle and
the blue of the sky.
I immediately dropped the ninety pound rucksack I was carrying, and ran for the tree line straight in front of me. To my left side, my peripheral vision caught a glimpse of soldiers dragging black body bags, filled with the limp bodies of American soldiers, to the center of the clearing and adding them to a neat row that was already twenty to thirty bags long. Inside the tree line I came face to face with only one defender, from the ambushed unit, within my immediate sight. He had superficial cuts on many parts of his body, from flying shrapnel. I ask for an update of the situation. He said he had been receiving incoming sniper fire from one of the big jungle trees in front of us. A few seconds after making this statement, mortar rounds started falling to our right side. One landed no more than ten yards away to my right. When it landed, the 1st /16th soldier and I had already hit the ground at the same instant and crawled behind a large ant hill, which did not offer much protection against flying shrapnel, but it was better than nothing. Soon, several cries for a medic rang out from our right side, which was an indication that some of the falling rounds had found their mark. Through an email in 2016, RTO Fred Walters told me that the men crying for medical attention where in his 3rd squad of our 3rd platoon of B Company. Fred had just assumed the duties of RTO (Radio Operator) for our B Company CO, Captain Brown, or he would more than likely have been among the wounded, if not killed outright. I can say this with some certainty, because Fred has informed me recently that seven men in this, his old squad, were wounded so badly, that they were sent State side, never to return to the unit. Fred remembered the names of five of these men. They were "Porky" Morton, Bianchi, Schotz, Ruiz and Lemon. The only one I remember was Morton. However, until just recently I never realized he had been wounded so badly that day.
The enemy troops didn't keep the fight going for long. Their objective had been to hit fast and hard and then withdraw. Now, they only wanted to keep us pinned down and throw us off guard while they made their escape. They would disengage and attempt to deal with my unit on their terms, another time. Minutes passed after the shelling stopped. Orders came to dig in. My newly found comrade from the other unit disappeared to board awaiting choppers which were now air lifting members of his battered unit back to Lai Khe, I suppose, since that was their home base. The same choppers that brought us in, probably returned to take them away. All enemy activity ceased. Within a short time Chinooks appeared at the center of the clearing with tons of supplies hanging in webbing underneath their bellies. It was obvious we would stay a while. Night pasted without an incident. Next morning word trickled down, that had been at least a regiment sized enemy force which ambushed the 1/16th and that it was probably still in the area. Security patrols started leaving our newly established base camp. Each company in the battalion took turns sending out these squad sized security patrols. It would be my squad's turn in a couple days. Of course anything could happen in two days.
The next day sometime after breakfast, our new platoon leader walked up to us with a brand new M-16 which had a grenade launcher mounted under the barrel. He had gotten it from the fresh supplies we received constantly by the Chinook helicopters. He handed it to Walker, the man in my squad, who carried the old shotgun type grenade launcher. The new lieutenant became a little upset when Walker refused to trade in his old weapon for the new one. Several minutes passed with the good natured college grad trying every conceivable means of verbal persuasion outside a direct order, to change Walker's mind. Finally the argument was settled when Walker picked out the top of a tall jungle tree over a hundred yards in front of our position as a target, and launched five grenades at it. Five rounds were in the air before the first one hit. All five where direct hits. Our rookie platoon leader just stood there for a few seconds with his mouth open, then said, "You keep your "thump gun" Walker" and turned around and walked back toward the command post (CP) with the new weapon in his hand. I don't think anyone else in my squad knew Walker could shoot like that. I know he surprised me. Needless to say, Walker got to keep his old thump gun for the rest of his time in the field. I made him a cup of hot chocolate from the powdered creamer and cocoa in our C-Rations that evening to celebrate getting to keep his gun. I heated it up in my medal canteen cup over a small ball of C-4. Mum Good!
One of the new recruits in my squad had it in for me. He could just look at me and get mad. I honestly cannot remember anything I did to make him feel this way. Bill Milliron had temporarily gone State side to settle family problems and Glen Bowman was on R and R so I was stuck sharing a fox hole with this guy. After we had been together for several days in this location, I volunteered to go out in front of our position on OP (observation post) just to get away from him for a little while. On the way out to that position I realized I was hungry and stopped short of my destination long enough to eat a can of C-Ration peaches. While sitting down, leaning up against a small tree, suddenly one of the claymore mines, in front of the fox hole the new recruit and I were occupying, exploded. It sprayed 750 buckshot-sized pellets toward the observation post where I would have been, had I not stopped to eat. I ran back to my fox hole to find out what was going on, since there was no doubt that the blast came from one of the claymore mines this guy and I had placed earlier upon our arrival. The new recruit was standing there at our bunker showing the platoon leader a broken safety lever on one of the claymore detonators. He was telling the lieutenant that he had been playing around with the detonator when it accidentally went off. Nothing more was said about the incident by anyone, including myself, but yes, I do think he was trying to kill me.
By the time it was my squad’s turn to go on security patrol, not so much as an enemy sniper had troubled us. The NVA and VC had simply melted into the jungle and vanished. Everyone knew there was a very good chance that a large enemy base camp was located within a very short distance of our location. They also knew that any squad sized patrol, which stumbled across it, would have as much chance of surviving the encounter as a steer in a slaughterhouse. As our patrol left the perimeter of base camp, I walked point at the head of the patrol, as always, but alone this time, since Bill Milliron and Glen Bowman were not there. My squad leader, E-6 Bartee, from Roanoke Virginia, followed directly behind me on this patrol. Next, behind him, was the radioman. The machine gunner brought up the rear as always. Walker was somewhere in between. There were seven of us in all, five old-timers and two recruits. As always we walked in single file, one man behind another. An old timer from the Indian Nations of New Mexico carried the M-60 machine gun. I cannot remember saying two words to him the entire time we were together. He later covered my squad's far right position in the Battle of Loc Ninh and burned up three barrels on his M-60 machine gun defending against an all out assault of hundreds of attackers against my squad's side of our Night Defensive Position (NDP). The next morning, after the enemy assault troops had been practically annihilated, it was really hard to get a proper count of the dead bodies lying scattered throughout the jungle in front of his machine gun position, simply because there were so many. As always, on this patrol, I carried a LAW, eight grenades, and two hundred rounds of ammo for the Indian's M-60, as well as 300 rounds of M-16 ammo for my own weapon. If we stumbled across an enemy base camp, we would take out far more of them, than there were of us, but the final outcome would be set in stone. There would not be enough time to withdraw, or get help, before every member of my squad was dead.
It was a bright beautiful sunny day. The jungle was open enough to move quietly through, without having to use a machete. An occasional monkey could be heard howling from a distant tree. Every now and then I could glimpse a mongoose hopping across the jungle flooring. I can't remember the sounds birds made, but I know that they were there, voicing their opinion of our intrusion into their world. However, what could have been a place of wondrous sights and sounds, filled with unbelievable natural beauty, was drowned out in my conscious mind by a continual overwhelming obsession with how best to avoid death. These pervasive thoughts completely destroyed anything that would have ordinarily been a beautiful experience. I kept saying to myself, "It is very important that our patrol stay on its charted azimuths (compass readings). Bill Milliron usually watched compass readings for me but there was no Milliron. Glen Bowman was a second pair of very alert eyes and ears for me but there was no Bowman. This was definitely all on my shoulders; running the compass readings, counting paces and spotting any signs of enemy presence, before it was too late to react. There was no doubt in any of our minds, except maybe the guy who had blown a claymore mine on me, that we were in a very dangerous location that required each and every one of us to keep our wits about us at all times. The guys were following behind me much more quietly than ever before. There really was no room for error. If we got off course and had to call for a spotter round, from our mortar platoon, it would be a dead giveaway to the enemy, because they knew very well how we operated so they most surely would launch several killer teams to investigate. Our plotted course took us up gently sloping terrain. The jungle was relatively open and easy to maneuver without making a lot of noise and this security patrol was somewhat longer than most I had been on in the past. In my mind, this meant that we may be covering ground that our previous patrols had not covered, which was always inherently more dangerous.
When we had reached the halfway point on the second leg of the patrol, the jungle became very quiet. Not even the sound of a bird, anywhere, broke the silence; A silence that seemed like some deadly foreboding. Monkeys that had been howling from the tree tops no longer were making a sound. The backdrop of the everyday sounds of life in the jungle had completely disappeared. This absence of jungle sounds sent a chilling sensation though my subconscious mind. It made the hair on the back of my neck bristle. I became so affected by this dreadful feeling that I stopped walking and turned to look at my squad leader standing five yards or so behind me. He was short, slim, with sandy blonde hair and his red face was dripping sweat as his blue eyes stared intently back at me, looking intently at him. He automatically knew I had something very important to say because he had seen that look before. We stood there facing each other for what seemed like the longest time. I felt the words coming to my lips and being whispered to him, almost, as if I were repeating something someone else was saying to me. "If you go any further, you are going to die" the words said. Yet, there was no proof of that statement in anything I experienced with my five senses. Never the less, to my surprise, Sergeant Bartee believed me, without question. I suppose he readily believed in part because of the many past dangers we had been able to avoid, through the combined good instincts of Bill, Bowman and myself, over the last few months. However, this situation was totally different than before. This had nothing to do with the natural intuition, which came when a point man like me nervously sensed an inexplicable change in the jungle environment, which may or may not have indicated danger. This was an audible voice, bypassing my ears and speaking specific words directly into my brain. This was not me making a judgment call. Simply put, it was the voice of God's Holy Spirit, who had entered my life, when I was a child, and who had been with me, never leaving, or forsaking me all this time. Even now, during some of the darkest hours imaginable and despite the fact that I had decided to throw God away, He was still speaking to me. As long as I live, I will never forget the look on Sergeant Bartee's face, as he just stood there, listening to me, repeating those words. There was not the slightest hint of questioning, whatsoever, on his countenance. To him, what I had just said was the gospel truth, and needed to be heeded, although, in my mind, these words brought indecision, because they seemed to defy logic. My five senses confirmed nothing of what I had just said. Yet, Thank God Bartee immediately reacted to what I said, and not to what I believed, because I really did not believe what I had just rolled off my tongue. However, the real truth is always the truth no matter what one believes or doesn't believe and the truth is always much more powerful than any of the weapons we carried among us. Now, the Spirit of all truth had just spoken. These words of truth were the only instrument of life that would work. At this instant in time, these words spoken straight into my brain by the Holy Spirit were the only thing that would bring us all home alive and without a scratch. Acting on what I believed, using my five senses, would not bring life but death. Acting on what I believed would have instantly turned every man in that patrol into dead men walking. The proof for what I am saying here, came later, but it was undeniable proof when it did come.
Now, the life giving power of Holy Spirit words, implanted into my conscious mind by the one, who said in the Bible, that he would never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5)began to set events into motion. Bartee turned and beckoned with one hand for the radio man to hand him his mic. The radio man moved up close to his side so the cord would reach and handed the mic to Bartee. The sound of breaking squelch, by keying a mic could be heard a long way off, so I instinctively turned to the front again, to face in the direction we had been traveling. I strained to see the slightest movement that looked out of place. The conversation on the radio behind me was lost to my hearing. After several minutes Bartee motioned and whispered for me to approach closer to him. "We are withdrawing," he said. The tortured look on his face had turned into one of relief. After backtracking a hundred yards or so, he started explaining to me, that our Battalion Commander, Dogface 6 and now retired four star General Dick Cavazos, had given orders over the radio to mark our position and return to camp. His exact words were, "We don't need to get any of you boys hurt. That's why America makes so many bombs. We'll target the entire area where you are standing for an air strike sometime tonight."
The command to withdraw without spotting the enemy or drawing fire, was, to me, highly unexpected. I don't believe any other commander in the First Infantry Division would have given an order to do that, with no visible evidence of an enemy presence. I was completely surprised, and yet, instantly relieved on several levels. On a subconscious level, it immediately reinstated in my mind a lot of the lost confidence in Battalion Commanders, namely, in one Battalion Commander, Dick Cavazos. We may have just received a pardon from a death sentence but that would remain to be seen. At this moment, the indescribable feeling of relief that comes from the fact that we were headed home instead of further into enemy territory was all that mattered.
That night, while sitting in base camp, drinking a cup of hot chocolate, made from C-rations and heated with a ball of C-4, I didn't worry much about whether or not our patrol had called the shots right or not. We had returned from our patrol alive and that was all that mattered. Whether or not the enemy base camp was located where we sounded the alarm was of very minor importance to my professional pride. After all, I had no professional pride. I was just a twenty year old draftee counting the days until I could leave this hell I had woke up and found myself in.
Shortly after dark, the ground began to rumble. The shaking of the earth around us lasted for no more than five minutes and then it was over. I finished my cup of hot chocolate. Tomorrow my company would return to the bombsite to see if indeed there had been an enemy base camp located close to the spot where my patrol had stopped, but tonight it was just great to be alive.
My entire company moved out early the next morning to survey the results of the bombing the night before. Within the general area of the bombing, the terrain had been devastated. The bombs had left deep craters in the ground. Huge trees had been uprooted and it was hard to navigate through the tangled mess. The first thing that alerted me to the fact that human life had been destroyed, was the uniquely sickening sweet smell of dead human flesh. Unfortunately, I had smelled this odor too many times before. It was impossible to locate the exact spot where we had been standing the day before, because the bombing had changed the look of the area so much. What wasn't hard to determine was the destruction of a very large enemy base camp, which had obviously been located directly in the path of our security patrol the previous day. Large disheveled pieces of bamboo, used as supports for overhead covering, were scattered everywhere. Disassembled bunkers and underground connecting tunnels were exposed for anyone to see. Some of the rather whole human bodies had been flung in all directions, landing in grotesque poses. No doubt, many of these slave victims to tyranny had been resting in a relatively peaceful state before their earthly souls were instantly translated from one hopeless situation to an eternity in hell. Many other bodies and body parts had been covered up by the bombing. It was obvious that the enemy had no clue that they were going to be targeted by an air strike. I believe almost every person in that camp was killed and despite the direct and truthful way I have described what happened, it gives me no solace to see such loss of human life and the potential that each of these lost souls represented. If only they could have found it possible to heed the voice of that same Holy Spirit, who had spoken to me, thus embracing Jesus Christ instead of the devil. My own life is living proof of this one truth. There was little doubt that this was the camp of those responsible for the ambush of the 1/16th and elements of the 2/28th.
In a phone conversation with Richard Cavazos a few years ago, I asked him why he had trusted my unfounded suspicions of a base camp. He simply said, "I always trusted my men". Then I was corrected by him and told the bombers, making that ground rumble were not B52's but Australian Canberra's. Most likely they were from the RAAF 2nd squadron, which had been initially deployed at Phan Rang on April 19th, 1967 to support troops like us, operating in the Iron Triangle and War Zone C.
Now, many years later, I realize that words spoken through the power of the Holy Spirit are much more powerful than any weapon formed by man. The word of God framed the universe. How could it not have the power to save me? I have heeded that voice in my head many times since that dark day so long ago and it has not only saved me from death many times over, but against all natural logic, that voice has made me prosper, as those around me prosper. I have come to take more pleasure in the latter. Him, taking care of me is a given, but seeing others allowing him to bring forth victory in their lives is an indescribably gratifying feeling. (John 1:3) Not a single man was lost in my platoon during the time I was with them, but while I was at Di An processing out to come back to the States, my entire squad was shot to pieces. Not only did every single man in my unit receive a bronze star but my unit also received a Valorous Unit Award, which I was told, by Dick many years later, was equal to every man receiving a Silver Star for their level of heroism in their combined actions during the time he commanded the unit
After I returned from Vietnam, I continued to walk in rebellion. I returned to Virginia Tech. in the fall of 1968 after being discharged from service in June of that same year. I did well in my first year of engineering studies but the loneliness that some would call “post traumatic sock of combat” caught up with me in my second year at Tech. Without contacting my family, I left suddenly one snowy winter evening during winter registration and started driving west. When I stopped traveling, I was looking at the Pacific Ocean. I lived in Orange County, California for almost a year and was then manipulated by the Holy Spirit to take a job offer in the Houston area. In late November of 1970, I moved to Houston. I was 23 years old.
My bondage was great.
I worked where I could generate the most cash with the least amount of mental effort, because so much of my mind was in torment. That meant working long hours at menial tasks. After living in Houston a couple years I decided that I would learn to drive tractor trailers and then buy my own rigs and lease them to outfits that did that sort of thing. After truck driving for a couple years, I realized this life was not for me. During that period of time I met Julia who is my oldest son’s (Jeremy) mother. We were married 4 years and she left. During that time I managed to land a job with a Chemical Plant in Channelview, Texas. I worked there over 20 years. During the time that Julia and I where separated, I took a vacation and drove to a patch of East Texas woods to try and renew my childhood relationship with God. The Holy Spirit showed me a small tree with a vine growing around it. He had me cut down the tree and make a staff. Shortly after returning from East Texas and my experience with God and the strange commandment concerning the staff, I met a beautiful woman in a bar in Houston. We spent the next few years, together, wasting time. That relationship ended, after she told me how boring I was. After she left, I found out from a mutual friend that she was using cocaine. I was now 36 years old.
At times, I tried to pray. However, I was in such deep bondage, I could only say the Lord's prayer. I also started reading a few verses from the bible once in a while. One evening, I walked outside the control room of the large chemical plant, where I worked and said the following words. “Lord I do not understand you and I do not trust those who claim to understand you. My life is going no where. I am wasting it away. Lord, if you are real, please take my life and make whatever you will with it.” Immediately, the lights came on. I began to be led, from the confusion I had lived in for so many years, into a more and more peaceful and orderly place. I began to pray with power, which I could never do before. Larry Gillum, a Baptist Counselor whom I was led by the Holy Spirit to see several months after saying that prayer, recommended that I attend Grace Community Church. It was located in League City and I was living in Pasadena very near Larry’s office. His office was located across the street from the largest Baptist Church in Pasadena, Texas, when he made this recommendation. It didn’t make much sense for a Baptist counselor to recommend a spirit filled nondenominational church over another church of his own denomination. However, many times the leading of the Holy Spirit only makes sense to the natural mind in hind sight.
After attending Grace for a while, I attended a deliverance training session taught by a man named Richard Lot. I did this mostly out of curiosity. My attitude was this. "I don't believe I need deliverance but why not error on the side of humility and learn more about it. " Besides, my life was still not where it needed to be. By now, I had spent a lot of time in social settings with the same guys who were practicing praying for me, so during the prayer session, I remember thinking, "Gee, the people praying for me are worse off than me". After performing ritual prayers taught to the members of the deliverance team, by Richard Lot, they finally asked me if anything came to mind, that I might want to talk about. Actually I was more sure than ever that there was absolutely nothing at all that I wished to talk about with these guys. However, noticing the looks on their faces, I didn't want to discourage them, so I mentioned the only thing that came into my mind and that was the name "Othar". Everyone looked at me like I was a little weird and that was that. The session ended. A few weeks later one of the men who had prayed for me and who had personal problems dating back many, many years showed remarkable improvement in his life after counseling with a Baptist Minister, whose name was Dr. Joe Albright. The Holy Spirit strongly urged me to make an appointment with Dr. Albright. I did, but had to wait 6 months because he was booked up that far in advance. In May, 1993, I headed to the west side of Houston for a 3 day counseling session with Dr. Albright. I had arranged a week's vacation for the all day sessions, scheduled to last 3 days, consecutively, as the Doctor had requested. Again the Holy Spirit was at work, leading me full circle to a Baptist deliverance minister through a contact I had met in a church that believed in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
I was met at the door of Dr. Albright's home by his wife, Rita, and quickly ushered into the presence of Dr. Albright, himself, standing in his study, where an impressive array of plaques covered the walls behind him. That array was more than enough proof to indicate that he had been completely obedient to the scripture that says, "Study to show thyself approved". However, he was very quick to say, that the Lord could use a rock to do what he did. Dr. Albright's appearance was that of a very tall man in his early 70's who’s most magnetic feature was that of his clear, piercing, blue eyes. While walking into his study after greeting me, he was quick to mention that he would charge no fees for his services. He said early on that I would be the beneficiary of his many days of fasting, which were not for me, but for a lady, he was seeing that evening. He added that she had been involved with a Satanic Cult.
I arrived at his home office on a Wednesday morning at 10:00 AM. We prayed and ask the Holy Spirit to take control. He ask me to tell him about myself and start anywhere, I pleased. I talked about my youth a little, but mostly about my 3 failed marriages and how I had always wanted a home and family but seemly, the harder I tried, the worse things got in my personal relationships. I told him about Oliver B. Shank, a fellow recruit in basic training, who walked up to me one day and read my palm. After reading it he had said that I would be a good soldier but I would always have a problem with women for the rest of my life. So far, it had turned out as he had predicted. I had just gone through my third divorce but had been a decorated veteran of the Vietnam campaign. At the end of our first session (around 3:00 PM) Dr. Albright ended by making some startling statements. To summarize his words, "Wayne", he said, " You definitely have a split personality that is demon oppressed. This, however, cannot be dealt with unless you believe that what I am telling you is true. You have a strong side of your personality that does not submit to Christ and although you are born again and will go to heaven if you die today, you will struggle with this for the rest of your life if you don't get deliverance. It is the strong side of your personality that you depend on when the going gets tough. You should be trusting in Christ. This is the ground in your soul that Satan has been able to use." He ended our meeting that day by saying, "Let's pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to you that what I am saying is true. It will be impossible for you to get deliverance if you do not see this for yourself." We prayed, and that ended our first day of this three day session.
I went to Wednesday night services at Grace Community Church that evening and couldn't wait for the service to end. That strong restless feeling that I had felt at other times in my life seemed to overwhelm me. It was the same feeling that had propelled me to quit college, to severe relationships with friends, family, and loved ones by withdrawing into a strange fantasy world of the mind that the bible calls, "vain imaginations". The next morning I couldn't wait for the next session to begin. The truth of what Dr. Albright had said had definitely been revealed to me, or so I thought. The Holy Spirit, however, had plans of his own.
After arriving around 10 am the next morning at the psychologist's home office, Dr. Albright began the session by saying, "The Holy Spirit has told me to tell you about my cousin who committed suicide after becoming an outcast in the community he lived in". He went on to say, "He became an outcast because he was a convicted murderer." "My uncle", Dr. Albright said, "had killed a man but was a very wealthy and respected man in this 1930's town, so he paid my cousin to take the wrap for him and serve his time in prison. After getting out of prison my cousin couldn't get a decent job, because he was branded as a murderer, by the community. Finally things got so bad in his life, that he just took a rope and hanged himself."
As Dr. Albright was telling me this depressing story, I remember asking myself, "What in the world does this have to do with me?" When I had arrived at his home that morning, I had been so excited and could hardly wait to tell him about the revelation of the previous night. Instead, I had to sit there and listen to this ridiculous, depressing story, that had nothing to do with anything in my life. After the many months of waiting to see this man and anticipating a breakthrough in my life, it seemed, as though, I had come to another dead end. When He had finished this awful story, which seemed to have nothing to do with present reality, I tried brushing the story aside, by abruptly changing the subject. I quickly mentioned that I had, indeed, sensed the split personality, that he had noticed, when we met yesterday. Even as I was saying this, however, I could feel that same feeling of hopelessness come over me, like so many other times in my life. The excitement I felt, about being able to share with him the confirmation of the truth in what he had told me the previous day had just had a wet blanket thrown on it, by listening to this silly story, that seemly had nothing to do with matters at hand. It was time to go back to the tombs. I was standing at the edge of a breakthrough, but at this point only the Holy Spirit could provide the bridge to get to the other side. That bridge certainly would not be built by Dr. Joe Albright and his crazy stories about his family tree. At this point, all I was hearing from the good Doctor through my filtered thought processes, said he was totally off base. This story had nothing to do with me. In reality, however, I would soon find it had everything to do with me. Every deception imprinted into my mind by the demonic captors who had influenced my mind since birth was now going to be exposed. Yesterday's false revelation experienced at Wednesday night church service would be out the window. After he had spouted out such a disjointed family history lesson like this, those demons who had controlled my mind for so long were completely bewildered. They were now disarmed enough to allow me to speak for myself and say just about anything I felt like saying. All my egocentric motivation to fit in with Dr. Albright and his Alice in Wonderland tea party was gone.
So, I said exactly what my unfiltered thoughts told me to say. I mentioned the first thought that popped into my head. Right out of the blue, I told Albright about the deliverance session at Grace. I mentioned the name that had popped into my head, and how I had made it up just to have something to say to a bunch of would be exorcists with disappointed looks on their faces. I also told him that the name was the only thing that came out of the session with Richard Lot but I didn't tell him that I thought the name was as ridiculous as the story he had just told me. As soon as I mentioned to him, in passing, that the name was “Othar", the expression on his face changed noticeably. Dr. Albright's eyes switched from their normal piercing gaze to a look of discovery. He looked like some one who had just found the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle and at the same time realized that it fit into a totally different place on the picture. "Wayne", he blurted out, "My cousin in the story I was telling you, who hanged himself, was named "Othar".
Well, I must say, that this was an amazing revelation for both of us. Instantly we were of one mind. There was no doubt now, who was in charge of this deliverance session and it wasn't either one of us. How many people in the world name their son "Othar"? Would you name your son "Othar"? I would name my son "Sue" before I would name him "Othar". How many "Othars" do you know? The point I am trying to make is this. The probability numbers for the character in Dr. Albright's story having the same name as the name that popped into my head months before are astronomical. There was no way I could have any doubt that I was having a life changing experience with the God of the Universe. In one instant, in the twinkling of an eye, the Holy Spirit had proven to both men in that room that Dr. Joe Albright was acting as a servant of God by relating a seemingly unrelated event in obedience to God instead of the learned responses of a psychologist. In that same instant, the Holy Spirit had revealed to my skeptical mind that he was in control of this meeting and that I could trust the events of this meeting to be orchestrated by him. The years of conditioning, by Satan, to be suspicious of all authority, was crushed under the thumb of the Holy Spirit in one second. The deliverance I had been seeking happened very quickly and my life has not been the same since that moment. We prayed together and I invited the Holy Spirit to take control of my entire soul. I confessed the sin I had committed by allowing my palm to be read years before. Dr. Albright mentioned that Satan could have spilt my soul at birth and that this strong personality in me was going to be an asset instead of a liability now that it was under submission to Christ.
At the time I met with Albright I had just ended marriage number three. In less then a year after meeting with Albright I married my present wife, Carla. There is no doubt that this marriage will last a life time. A year later we had a daughter named Kari and in that same year (1995) started a Real Estate business which God has used to bless our family and many others since. Three years later we had a miracle son named Caleb. God is a God of restoration and continues to prove that fact in my life. In the years since that meeting, I have been taught by The Holy Spirit, and in turn, have made myself available to speak to other Christian men and men's groups concerning the struggle of many who is struggling and desires to be set free. The sad truth is this. Not many are willing to seek God for real deliverance. Most in the membership of the church want to play it safe by doing the same old things over and over, seeking ritual over renewal. The real power that is available to the body of Christ comes by faith in the things that cannot be seen or reasoned out beforehand. If Albright had not been led by the Holy Spirit through faith, he would never have told that seemingly unrelated story about his cousin, because it would not have made sense to the natural mind to tell such a story, yet that seemingly unrelated story was exactly what I needed to hear.
Satan's bondage can run wild
in any Christian if unchecked through the knowledge of God's word. New birth in spirit does not automatically mean
freedom for the soul. The bible says, “For the lack of knowledge, God's
people perish”. That doesn't mean we loose our salvation. It simply
means we will live in defeat, instead of victory, as our hearts whither
over time. Paul said the salvation
of the soul must be worked out with fear and trembling. Jesus, himself,
set the best example for this. His very first act after receiving
the anointing of the Holy Spirit, at the Jordon, was to separate
himself, fast and use the word to put Satan in his place. Sadly enough,
many Christian men do not gain the knowledge in the word of God to be
able to understand who they are in Christ.
When men learn how to use the sword of the word to put Satan to flight,
they can then start to become Christ's witnesses to their families
first, their church and finally the world. Since I received deliverance, I have grown continually in the Lord in knowledge
and ability to be used by The Holy Spirit to become an effective witness
for Christ to those around me. More importantly, the love Of God is
increasingly manifested in my heart.