Signing off on my letter, I took up my Living New Testament and began to plan for my first worship service on Firebase Warrior.

I turned to Ephesians, the fourth chapter, and the first and second verses. Paul was writing from prison. He didn't want to be there. He had done nothing to deserve being there. He didn't steal, lie, cheat, murder, take or sell drugs, burn his draft card, or run to Canada. It was as though he was drafted among the early Christians to be a leader that would have to go to prison. Yet in spite of the situation in which he found himself he could still write these words of blind faith and encouragement:

"I beg you - I, a prisoner here in jail for serving the Lord - to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessing as these.
Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each others faults because of your love." (The Living New Testament, Ephesians 4:1-2)

Difficult words for difficult times in an Artillery Gun Position with a 105 Howitzer sitting like an icon titled Blind Faith. How can this be a "wonderful blessing”? Reaching out to each other, covering one another's backsides and having some buddy willing to risk his life for you could be construed as a "wonderful blessing."

Finishing my thoughts, I began to make a tour of the Firebase on my own. Stopping by each bunker and hooch and getting acquainted with these men, inviting them to attend the worship service was a wonderful blessing for me. I must have answered the question a dozen times, "Chaplain what in the hell are you doing out here?" My answer never changed, "I'm here by choice, because most of you didn't have a choice."

My service was over in fifteen minutes. Some chaplains sing hymns, but with my voice and without accompaniment, I went on without singing. Only ten GI's showed up. But since I had a separate communion service I was able to report a "head count" to the Chief’s Office at Division of twenty in services.

I’m really uncomfortable with keeping count of attendees at worship, but choose not to fight that war. I told myself, that somewhere, someplace, chaplains were trying to prove we were needed.

I talked to several of the men after the service. We shared information about each other. Where we were from, back in the world? What church did we belong to? How long did we have left in the country? Stranded, get-acquainted questions in a war zone.

They asked questions about what was happening in the world. I told them that President Nixon was trying to find a way to get the United States out of Vietnam and let the ARVNS fight the VC. As to the Americans getting out of Vietnam, their response was, "Ain't gonna happen in my lifetime."

We talked some about the protesters. "Yeah,” said one troop. "Those f####rs [sorry, chaplain] living it up in Canada and my butt is on the line here." Several heads nodded in agreement.

Someone asked me if I was planning to spend the night. They all knew about the change of command that was planned for the morning. They were told to shine their boots and put on a full uniform. The place would be running over with Highers.
I asked, "What is a Higher?”

"You know, Chaplain. An Officer from Brigade and Division," they told me.
They also knew that the CO had rib eye steaks for all them tonight at chow. One sandy-haired GI, who looked like a high-school football player, asked, "It is true that the Division Band is coming out here tomorrow, too?”

"I guess so. That's what Top said. Someone at base camp told me they would be here in the morning," I answered.

"Crazy,” was his only response as he turned and walked away shaking his head.

I still had about an hour before the command dinner. The sun had made its way down behind the trees and the evening was cooling off. There was still plenty of light and except for the images of war scattered about the base, it looked peaceful, calm and restful. The scenery was beautiful as I looked out across the mountain and saw the clouds turning a light orange against a deep blue background.

I walked back to the hooch with Speedy. He didn't say much. As we came up to his hooch, he turned to me and said, "Thanks, chaplain. It was a good service." Then he said, “I’m going to the pad and clean it up for the night. See you later." I got out my journal and continued my letter to Chaplain Miller.


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