Delta Dawn When the Light Comes On: Week 31
August 3, 2023
Psalm 91 "Under His wings you shall take refuge. You shall not be afraid of the arrow that flies by day... for He shall give His angels charge over you to keep you ... in their hands they shall bear you up!"
My uncle, Fred E. Brands, turned 17, October 31st, 1941. December 7th he enlisted in the United States Navy. World War II had begun at Pearl Harbor. Freddie took training as a navigator in the Naval Air Force. There were six men in his fighter: Pilot, Co-Pilot, Navigator, Left, Right and Tail Gunners. He never really shared 'war stories' with the family. When I was about 15, a well-dressed man arrived at the ranch seeking Uncle Freddie. Then, we heard this story.
During a combat mission, Freddie's plane went down in enemy waters. It was discovered there were only 5 life vests aboard. Freddie knew how to swim, so he gave his vest to a gunner who appeared to be badly hurt, lifted him up through the wreckage and headed him for something floating, and laid him down there. Freddie swam back to assist others escaping the sinking fighter, lest fuel explode.
Shortly, natives arrived with boats and began getting the men aboard. As the last man was loaded, Freddie swam back into the plane and tore out the radio, so they could stay in contact with U. S. Forces. Once all were safe, he realized the squishing in his boots was not water, but his own blood.
Miraculously, the Japanese boatmen were friendly. Before long, the flight crew was reunited with U.S. personnel, hospitalized, treated and released. Freddie went back to his assignment aboard a fighter until the war ended. We learned, from the well-dressed Navy Officer, that Uncle Freddie saved his life by girding him with a life jacket and ferrying him to safety. A broken back indicated a life of paralysis, but Freddie's swift action gave him a chance at a full, prosperous life.
August 7th is "Purple Heart" day, honoring those wounded in military action. Uncle Freddie was also awarded a Bronze Star Medal "for heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone."
Freddie's friend, Ralph H. Coyte, on a similar sortie, outwitted the enemy and saved his flight crew. Ralph was awarded a Navy Cross, the second highest honor conferred by the United States in recognition of valor under fire. These two formidable war heroes graced North Park (Walden) Colorado for over 80 years, just living out values of life they learned at home, ranching. BE free and brave! Thank a soldier/sailor and a parent/teacher, today!
"I will set him on high because he has known My Name. He shall call upon Me and I shall answer him. My truth shall be his shield and buckler. I will deliver and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation." Psalm 91 The Soldier's Psalm
Next Week: Hot Sickle