Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Prayer in Vietnam

In the top picture I'm holding a canteen cup of water. This metal cup has a hinged handle that flips around the bottom and up the opposite side for stowing. It's then inserted in a heavy cloth pouch and attached to a pistol belt. A plastic quart water bottle, shaped as the inside of the cup, slides into the cup.

We received water from military water trailers as seen in these photos. This water had been purified by the Army for drinking and cooking.

While on foot patrols in the country, we often ran out of water and needed to drink from streams or rice paddies. This was very risky, but sometimes we were so thirsty we couldn't avoid the urge. During night movements, I've been so thirsty that I drank water containing lumps the texture of algae that I dipped from streams or pools with my cupped palm.

The three garbage cans to my left-front in the above photo were used for washing and rinsing our mess kits. The stacks protruding from the cans are heaters. One can was soapy and the other two contained hot rinse water. Mess kits consisted of 2 metal plates, a knife, fork and spoon. The plates fit together forming a sealed top to bottom for stow away. I used a mess kit when eating "hot chow". A mess tent was erected in rear areas for cooking hot foods. Sometimes hot chow was delivered to us in the field by helicopter. In those instances the food was hot and packed in insulated containers for spooning into our mess kits as we filed by the mess sergeant and his helpers.

I did a lot of praying while in Vietnam. I usually prayed at night while I was awake in the field on reconnaissance patrols. When on patrol, we prepared to ambush the enemy along a trail somewhere in suspected territories or near villages known to harbor Viet Cong. The sergeant in charge decided where each of us should be positioned to cover the trail without shooting each other. Two men were assigned to a position. The patrol consisted of about ten men total. Throughout the night, one of the two men at each position was awake at all times. We rotated two hours asleep, two hours awake to watch the trail. This pattern of sleep was devastating to me and it took years for me to regain continuous sleep during the nights.

During those long two-hour periods, I often looked up at the stars and prayed (sometimes it was pitch-black darkness and pouring rain). I prayed often for God to watch over me, to keep me safe, allow me to grow-up, to marry and have a family.

People who know me today, 40 years after 1966, know my prayers were answered based on my wife and resulting family. I give all the credit to the Lord for leading me to the lady I fell in love with at first sight. The romance began around three years after those prayers and lives on to this day.

The soldier in the below photo filled a five gallon container with drinking water to go onto a jeep.

Return here on Friday, October 13 for an update.

Have a good day!



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