In Combat You Need A Buddy
As told by MPC Deacon Paul Hartgrove to Jimmy Davis
Recently a friend and I had breakfast with Don Graves, a veteran of World War II and the Battle for Iwo Jima, February 1945. As a 19 year old, Don engaged in six weeks of intense combat until the island was secured. We listened with awe-struck gratitude as the 89-year-old patriot gave us an inside look at boots-on-the-ground combat.
One of Don’s stories impacted me like no other. Don told us about the day a new “green” replacement soldier joined his squad. Graves and a guy named Levinsky were in a foxhole when the new soldier joined them.
They were told to search for snipers, so Don cautiously looked out over the edge of the hole with binoculars. He saw nothing. But they were ordered to keep looking. At that point, the newly arrived soldier eagerly asked for the binoculars because he wanted to take a look. Don told him no, but the new guy insisted, and when Don continued to resist, Levinsky finally said, “Let him look.” As the new man propped himself up on the edge of the foxhole, a shot rang out, and he fell dead.
Still visibly haunted by the memory of that moment, Don told me he looked down and saw that a photo of the soldier’s wife and baby had fallen out of his helmet. In a fit of fury, Don threw his rifle down and began screaming out in frustration. He raged at the enemy sniper, the war, and even himself. “I lost it,” Don confessed. Suddenly Levinsky grabbed Don and slapped him in the face, bringing him back to his senses. It was a bold move, but after all, there was a battle to fight, a war to win.
Don’s elderly eyes were no less fiery than they’d been in that foxhole as he looked across the table and directly into ours. “That’s why you need a buddy,” he said.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we’re all in a spiritual battle. Our hearts and the hearts of our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers are the battlefield. The enemy of our souls has a sniper on every hill and around every corner, seeking to take us out. We need each other.
We need experienced buddies like Don who wisely resist our foolish attempts to do battle our way. And we need buddies like Levinsky, whose love for us is tough enough to shake us out of our war-weary despair and get our heads, hearts, and hands back in the battle.
Wake up, friends. You’re in combat, and you need a buddy.
[Photo Credit: http://www.history.navy.mil]
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