Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Catholic Defender on witnessing

One dark night while deployed to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield I will remember forever.

I was serving as a Medic with HHC 3/187 Rakkasans. We were at Tent City just outside King Fahd Airport preparing to move out and advance up to the Iraqi border.

Earlier that night, we were listening to a football game on the radio. The Buffalo Bills trounced the Oakland Raiders in a playoff game 50 to 3.

As we waited for word to move out, we were in MOPP 4 which is our protection against potential chemical attack. That was a huge threat we were always prepared for during the Gulf War.

Suddenly, just as we were boarding a bus to take us to the airport, one of Hussein's SCUD missiles was flying overhead. From where we were, the SCUD looked like a star flying across the sky. That got every one's attention.

The explosion missed the airport and landed harmlessly in the desert.
Then another SCUD came flying overhead, this time one of our Patriot missiles hit this second SCUD right over our position.
Talk about "hitting the deck" as everyone dove for cover.

The explosion and impact hitting the SCUD lit up the sky with a loud supersonic boom.
Such was the threat we encountered everyday.

We always had a lot of activity taking place at the Battalion Aid Station.

During the Gulf War, we were conducting more than 2200 sorties a day.
That kept the Iraqi's busy so their attacks on us was limited. My Unit would participate on the longest Air Assault Mission of all time.

It was called the "Hail Mary Play"! We would land in the Euphrates River Valley basin.

The biggest threats we were facing at this time was clearly environmental. We had many combat casualties taken off the front line due to dysentery and heat exhaustion.

Our Battalion Commander caught this disease and was in the Aid Station being treated requiring many IV's. I was 66 out of 67 first time IV sticks during this crucial time. This effected at one time or another just about everyone.

I was one of the few that did not get sick which was interesting because I was exposed to this all the time. As Medics, we were very important keeping the fighting force going. I remember late at night, while keeping radio watch in the Aid Station, I would pray the rosary.

I had my trusty New American Bible which had great pictures. Using my flashlight, those pictures would seem to come to life, as I meditated on them. Everyday we continued to work on our defensive positions, digging in, filling sand bags, and training for war.

I did push ups and setups. One day one of our officers exerted himself boasting of doing 600 push ups. Because I couldn't let an officer boast of a record, the next day I did 700 push ups and that was never topped!

I would have Soldiers come to my position who would ask me about the Catholic Faith, about the bible, how to pray the rosary. What a blessing it was to be able to participate in that specifically in that environment.

Years later after leaving the Rakkasans, I was now assigned with the 194th Military Police (MP) Company still at Ft. Campbell, I went to check on my MSM award. I ran into one of the Soldiers I had spoke with about the Catholic Faith while still in the Saudi Arabian desert.

He told me that he never forgot the times we spoke and how he was enlightened to the scriptures. He thanked me for those times and explained to me since those times, he was now Baptized and received into the Catholic Faith.

That meant a great deal to me. It reminded me of the importance of being available to anyone we meet because you never know the impact you might have on someone who is really searching.

Romans 1:16:states, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for the Jew first, and then Greek".

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