My brother and I joined the U.S. Marine Corps right out of high school and went away to World War II. Our mother, a True Believer, wrapped us in Psalm 91 and claimed God's promises over us. He went to the Paramarine/Raiders and the 5th MarDiv, and I to the OSS and the 2nd MarDiv. We both went through combat and returned home safely after the war.
In 1950, with the outbreak of the Korean War, we were both recalled to active duty with the 1st Marine Division. Our mother again wrapped us in Psalm 91, gave each of us a small New Testament, and again sent us off to war with the Lord's blessing.
As a 12-year-old, I had accepted the Lord but had never been well disciplined or obedient. I wanted to play patty-cake in the sand piles of the world. At 25, when I went to Korea, I started reading the little New Testament my mother had given me.
At the Inchon landing, and for the next two weeks of heavy combat as a rifle-squad leader, I read a few Bible verses every day. I loved my brother Marines who suffered and died alongside me. As the death and destruction grew more intense - and as I stood on the brink of eternity - I did not like what I saw.
As my outfit, Fox Company [F-2-1], attacked up the streets of Seoul, I was hit with a machine-gun bullet. I made it behind a burning police sub-station in the middle of the street. My corpsman, Chico, dressed my wounds and as sniper bullets crashed into the street beside us, he laid on top of me - covering me with his own body - and yelled in my ear, "You've had enough!" Other riflemen nailed the snipers and as Chico left me to help other Marines lying wounded in the street, he was hit by two bullets that blew the shinbone out of his leg. I never saw Chico again.
Several Marines threw a wooden door on the ground, rolled me on it and ran me down the street under heavy fire. It was a fearsome ride. I was placed on a DUKW, given a shot of morphine, and dreamed a beautiful restful sleep to Kimpo airfield and the flight to Japan.
At Yokosuka Naval Hospital for three months, I proclaimed my loyalty to Chico, my corpsman. One night, the Lord came to me. I saw the blood running down His forehead, into His eyes, and down over His cheeks. I looked into His blood-filled eyes. He spread out His bloody hands and said, "I did this for you."
I was willing to be loyal to Chico - but had not been willing to be loyal to the Lord. The Lord said, "Come and follow me. I will make you a man. Put away childish things." I knew what he meant. I said, "Yes Sir."
With the Lord as the Lord of my life, I re-joined my outfit and went back into front-line combat for another five months before returning home.
My brother came home with frostbitten feet and I came home with a tender rear-end. Our mother cried with joy unspeakable. We were both baptized and have been His loyal Marines ever since. Everyday we say, "Yes Sir," to the Lord Jesus - our CHAMPION and HERO. My Lord and my God.
Winston Churchill once said, "Courage is the most important virtue because it makes all other virtues possible." As a senior in high school ready to join the Marine Corps, I thought his statement was good. The sequence sounded right.
As a 26-year old veteran of front-line combat in two wars, I came to understand that Churchill was not accurate. Courage is not the prime virtue. It is faithfulness/loyalty/commitment that is the prime virtue. It is being faithful that makes all other virtues possible, including courage. The Corps has it right: semper fidelis. Always faithful.
"Moreover, it is required of stewards that a man be found faithful," (I Cor.4:2).
World War II and Korea
Jim Baxter Sgt. USMC