He will listen to the prayers of the destitute. He will not reject their pleas. Let this be recorded for future generations, so that a people not yet born will praise the LORD. Tell them the LORD looked down from his heavenly sanctuary. He looked down to earth from heaven to hear the groans of the prisoners, to release those condemned to die. Psalm 102:17-20 NLT
Well it happened again – I got to go fishing with a WWII Veteran recently. It was our annual Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day in our little town.
Pictured above with me is Elton, a B-24 engineer and gunner during WWII.
Elton joined the military straight out of high school. After his state-side training, he was shipped overseas to take part in the European conflict. He flew 35 missions on a B-24 Liberator aircraft. On their tenth mission, Elton and crew were shot down. Six of the crew were taken prisoner, but Elton and three others escaped and got back to their base.
Elton said they had hoped to be sent home to the states after being shot down, but were informed there was a shortage of trained airmen. So they got on another B-24 and flew 25 more missions.
It was on his thirty-fifth and final mission that Elton was shot down again. That was when he was taken as a prisoner of war. He said when one of the German soldiers caught him, he told him “The war for you is now kaput.”
“Did you parachute out of the plane both times you were shot down?” I asked.
“Oh yeah. When the pilot says ‘Hit the silk,’ you don’t ask questions.”
Elton was a POW for nine months. He told me with a wry smile that his parents were sent a series of telegrams informing them that he was shot down, then back in the air, then shot down again and finally, a POW. The telegrams came within just a short time of each other.
“I’ll bet they were praying a lot for you,” I stated.
“Oh, I’m sure they were. I’m sure they were.”
“Had you ever been out of your hometown much before the war?”
“No. Never. It was all new to me. Never had been anywhere, really.”
“Where were you when you heard the war was over?”
“On a train headed for France. We expected it since we were liberated from the POW camp shortly before. They wouldn’t have let us go otherwise. So the announcement wasn’t a surprise to me.”
After all the fishing lines were reeled in, the vets were loaded on their bus back to the VA medical center. As per usual, I boarded and thanked them all for coming to the pond and fishing with us today. I also thanked each of them for their service to our country. One vet responded that he’d never heard anyone say that to him before.
Surely he was just kidding.
What do you think?