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Legacy


Cold Warriors?

By Karl Priest August 21, 2009 (revised 3-18-2020)
(This article appeared in the Cold War Times, vol.9, issue 4, November 2009, pg.37)

A fellow Cold War vet called me a “Cold Warrior” and I pointed out that I was only a flunky. So, who would qualify to be labeled a “Cold Warrior”?

Would it be a Navy SEAL who served as a sniper from his hidden perch in the trees? Or would it be the draftee who crawled up a hill with bullets buzzing by? Is a pilot dropping bombs more of a warrior than the pilot flying reconnaissance missions? Is a pacifist medic who serves with the Army in heavy combat less courageous than the soldiers beside him? Is a tank driver less brave than the man who drives a jeep along a mine infested road? In actual combat, is the guy knocked out by the percussion of a shell less worthy of praise than his buddy who charged forward and destroyed the enemy mortar crew?

For every combat veteran there are thousands of other military personnel doing the jobs they were ordered to do.

A friend of mine served in Vietnam and spent the entire tour in an air-conditioned building doing clerk work. Should he not be proud of his service? Another friend of mine spent two years in the Navy and never went to sea.

How can a man who serves on a sub be compared to one who puts a plane safely onto the deck of a swaying surface ship? Is the crew of a supply ship somehow of lesser value than the crew of a battleship that launches shells to a coast several miles away? Should the crews of the lone wolf ships Northampton and Wright be considered more heroic than the crews of the aircraft carriers which were heavily protected by escort ships? Were the officers aboard the Wright and Northampton who carried the code to launch nuclear weapons more important than the officers who sat deep in a bunker ready to press the button?

Should a veteran of the Marine Corps be honored more than an Air Force vet? What is the difference between a friend of mine who served as a Marine Reservist with a few months active duty and another Marine friend who completed several years with the regular forces?

In May of 1968 there was a lot of combat in Vietnam. During the Battle of Kham Duc over a dozen United Sates soldiers were killed. At nearly the same time, in the lonely North Atlantic, the submarine U.S.S. Scorpion was lost killing 99 crewmembers while conducting surveillance of Russians. Which service members were the bravest?

I have no problem with calling some career Special Forces men “Warriors.” But, is there a hierarchy of warriors? Is a warrior with 20 notches on his rifle butt more of a warrior than another with only 10? Also, every warrior’s account of battle I have read describes his fear during the action. Does that make him cowardly and only able to succeed because he feared death?

I think you see where I am going.

It takes courage and determination to honorably complete a tour of military duty. Whether soldier, sailor, airman, guardsman, or Marine—they all are worthy of respect.

Every cook, clerk, mechanic, musician, personnel specialist, and pot scrubber should be proud of the service they gave to the United States of America.

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A version of this article appeared in the Charleston Gazette-Mail as “Karl Priest: Every veteran is important”

(https://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion/op_ed_commentaries/karl-priest-every-veteran-is-important-opinion/article_082f1dfa-0f67-5a94-b1d8-fdf958a61421.html) on 11-8-19.

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Notes:

The arguably most formidable military warriors are U. S. Navy SEALs. In a “60 Minutes” (CBS) interview (9-8-2012) the SEAL Team 6 author of No Easy Day about the killing of Osama bin Laden highly praised two guys who refueled their helo as they returned from the mission.  He also complimented the 50ish helo pilot.

Other ratings do more than just build gedunks. The SEAL Team 6 author of No Easy Day wrote about the preparation for the mission that killed Osama bin Laden that “in the weeks leading up to the mission, the SEALs trained on a full-size model of the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where they would eventually kill bin Laden.” (http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/10/world/navy-seal-60-minutes/) It was construction ratings personnel that build that model.

Here is what another SEAL says about SEAL operation dependence. “By October, Naval Special Warfare Task Group Central had acquired four fully deployable SEAL platoons (for Desert Shield and Desert Storm). In addition, we had numerous naval support personnel backing us up in various specialties such as medicine, radio electronics, legal affairs, mechanics, administration, and Special Boat Units (SBUs). The Task Group was now ready for war.” (p. 140). Also, on page 151 the author describes how a Seabee backhoe operator was instrumental in providing protection from incoming missile attacks and praises Air Force helo pilots on page 153. Meeting God Behind Enemy Lines--My Christian Testimony as a U. S. Navy SEAL by Steve Watkins (http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/bios/b4swatkinsnavy_p2lc.htm)

SEAL of God by Chad Williams who was “one of only 13 from a (SEAL) class of 173 to make it straight through to graduation, Chad served his country on SEAL Teams One and Seven for five years, Chad shares his own radical conversion story and talks about how he draws on his own experiences as a SEAL to help others better understand the depths of Christ’s sacrifice and love.”

Other books by Navy SEAL Christians:

SEAL! by Lt. Cmdr. Michael J. Walsh & Greg Walker

Splashdown: The Rescue of a Navy Frogman by John Wolfram

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In August 2011 over 20 SEALs (some from SEAL Team 6 which is the “Elite of the Elite” and credited with killing Osama bin Laden) died when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. One was Aaron Carson Vaughn who was a man of deep faith, insisting to his family that he didn't fear his job as a Navy SEAL "because he knew where he was going" when he died. Aaron was a Christian and he's with Jesus today," Geneva Vaughn of Union City, Tenn., told The Associated Press on Saturday. "He told us when we saw him last November that he wasn't afraid...He was a tough warrior, but he was a gentle man." (He) was already a decorated fighter when he was asked by the Navy to return stateside to become an instructor. But he applied to SEAL Team 6 after two years, earning his way onto the squad in 2010. He asked the military to return him to combat and shipped out just six weeks before he was killed.  http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/08/07/2349090_p2/family-friends-remember-fallen.html

Atlantic Shores Baptist Church at Virginia Beach had three members who were killed in Afghanistan. Navy SEALs Kevin Houston and Louis Langlais died on August 6, 2011. They worked with the youth ministry at the church. In March 2010, SEAL Adam Brown was killed in Afghanistan. Source: WAVY.com and a CBSnews.com article.

Anyone who knew Adam would tell you it was important to him that his legacy be remembered and his story be told. He spent the latter part of his life helping those around him haunted by the mistakes he made years earlier. Adam was an incredibly strong Christian who loved the Lord and served him until his last, mortal breath. The majority of the members in his unit perished when the Chinook helicopter transporting them was viciously shot down while on a mission in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011, only a few short months after Adam's death. Adam was always the first through the door to clear the way for other members of his team and in classic Adam fashion he was yet again the first through heaven’s door......only the last door he went through wasn't filled with darkness and enemies, but light, with his Lord and Savior there to meet him. A light that shines down on all that knew him as a husband, father, friend, and there is no longer a need to be fearless. He's home. (http://arkansasmatters.com/fulltext?nxd_id=677022)

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From an article by former SEAL Jim O'Neill:

“America needs to bring God back into our national fabric. This, more than anything else, is what our country sorely needs. We have lost our moral anchor, our guiding star, and only acceptance of God, and His natural law, can return us to our intended course. God either exists or He does not. If He does not exist then nothing ultimately matters, and we are left with naught but the ash heap of atheistic nihilism.

“But if God exists (and oh He does), then we would have to be insane to deny His existence, or more commonly, we would need to be in secret (often a secret hidden even from ourselves) rebellion against God — refusing to acknowledge anything higher, more important, or more worthy of devotion than our own sweet selves. Such an attitude is a soul sickness, and America is sick in her soul.” http://constitutionalwrites.com/2011/07/16/time-to-reboot-america/

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I have found nothing that claims that Marcus Luttrell, author of Lone Survivor, is a born-again Christian, but he did say regarding a decision not to kill some unarmed Afghans that he could not do it because he has a “Christian soul." http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12690379 “Luttrell says he talked to God while in battle and prayed that he would survive so that the courage of his comrades would not be forgotten.” http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2007/November/One-Navy-SEALs-Tale-of-Survival/

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Ex-SEAL sniper Chris Kyle (author of American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military) was a Sunday-school teacher/deacon’s son. (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/meet_
the_big_shot_BxlVpxzQijkC9mwZcmwkrN) After his death, Chris Kyle’s brother said that Kyle was a “devout Christian.”
(http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/02/04/family-of-slain-navy-seal-chris-kyle-releases-statement-on-kyles-death/) Kyle credited God and his own guardian angel for protecting him in war-time, even surviving being shot twice his last tour, one bullet stopped by his body armor and the other deflecting off his protective eyewear. In an interview last year at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX, Chris Kyle spoke openly about his Christian faith. He was somewhat a reluctant hero. Kyle told the congregation, “The red on our flag stands for the blood. Our rights as Americans were paid in full by that blood.” In much the same way Christ paid for our salvation with His blood, pastor Ed Young added. (http://www.examiner.com/article/america-s-deadliest-sniper-chris-kyle-killed-helping-troubled-vet)

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(One of the members of SEAL Team 6 killed in Afghanistan) Tom (Ratzlaff) shared that whenever he boarded a helicopter for a mission, he said the Lord’s Prayer silently, once he got seated, and then prayed for protection. “I don’t ask for protection myself because that’s in his hands. I ask him to look after my wife and kids. Then I ask him to protect all my buddies and forgive them of all their sins and me of my sins. Then I move straight into thinking about what I’m about to do-the target, the map study, making sure I know which way’s north so I can call out things correctly on the target.” (http://nation.time.com/2012/08/06/the-navy-seals-dying-words/) A book about him is Fearless. Also, see this video.

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Former Navy SEAL Benjamin Smith gave the crowd at the Restore America Rally at Drake Field in Peachtree City plenty to think about. Speaking on topics ranging from the current state of America and its potential future to the relevance of Christianity in American life, the North Carolina resident was one of a number of speakers at the Oct. 20 rally sponsored by the South Atlanta Tea Party. Smith told the crowd of approximately 250 people the U.S is engaged in a “cold civil war” … Smith spoke about the Judeo-Christian worldview he said was present at the founding of the country, and some of the reasons why those values are relevant… And on the Tea Party movement, Smith said he realized as a SEAL that he should learn more about his country’s history as those in the movement advocate. “People need to read the Bible and the Founding Fathers. Doing so helped me to understand more about my faith,” said Smith. (http://www.thecitizen.com/articles/10-24-2012/seal-us-involved-%E2%80%98cold-civil-war%E2%80%99?quicktabs_3=1) Smith is featured in the documentary “Dishonorable Disclosures”.

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Retired Navy SEAL Sr. Chief Mike Day’s life forever changed in April 2007. He was shot 27 times at close range. Body armor that wasn’t supposed to hold up, held up… As the shots pounded his body, he began to pray the first prayer he’d ever prayed. “God, get me home to my girls!” Day served 21 years in the Navy and 20 years as a Navy Seal…He remains as amazed as everyone else that he survived the battle that day, and he speculates that the reason he didn’t die is because he didn’t yet know Jesus. (http://cnmnewz.com/navy-seal-mike-days-unbelievable-survival-god-get-me-home-to-my-girls/)

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SEAL Team Three Michael Anthony Monsoor won earned a Silver Star, the third highest honor for combat bravery, in 2006. A few months later that year he died after throwing himself on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for that act of courage. His platoon commander said, “I truly thought he was the toughest member of my platoon.”
(http://www.debbieschlussel.com/3639/michael-monsoor-un-hyphenated-arab-american-hero-americans-who-dont-want-to-be-known-as-arabs-my-apology-to-mayor-allan-mansoor/) “Michael was a Christian man, raised in the Catholic Church and was often seen attending Mass before leaving the FOB (Forward Operating Base) on operations.  His parents named him after the Archangel Michael-the great protector whose mission was to protect the world from the satanic forces of evil.” (http://www.blackfive.net/main/2008/04/us-navy-seal-mi.html)

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On the 12-22-16 Sean Hannity Show during the 5:00 hour guest host Jonathan Gilliam said, “I am a Christian.”

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Pastor Gunnar Hanson served in the US Navy from July 5, 1993 to March 5, 2005. During his time in the Navy he served at SEAL Team 3 and Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, California. The SEAL teams played a large role in shaping Gunnar early adulthood. His path of accomplishments isn’t free of bumpy patches that God used to lead Gunnar to Christ in 1996, ultimately transforming him into the man he is today. After becoming a Christian, Gunnar developed a deep desire to know what the Bible taught about what it meant to be a Christian and how this new life in Christ fit with his life as a US Navy SEAL. This desire led him to distance learning courses through Moody Bible Institute and ultimately to Southern California Seminary where he earned a Bachelors of Arts degree in Biblical Studies and a Masters of Divinity. He continued his education through Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is all but dissertation with a Doctor of Ministry. Following his service in the Navy, Gunnar moved to Valley Center, California to restart Valley Baptist Church during the summer of 2007. Under his leadership the church has come back to life and is making an impact in their community. In addition to his pastoral duties, Gunnar is the head chaplain with the Escondido Police Department.
https://www.gunnarhanson.com/Biography.htm

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Jeff Bramstedt is a former US Navy SEAL who has dedicated his post military life to impacting the lives of men with the Word of God. His goal is to build foundations in men that won't crack under the pressures of life that every man faces. Training and teaching men to be "real men" is the core of his ministry, Life Of Valor Ministries.
https://www.outreach.com/events/christian-speakers/Jeff-Bramstedt.aspx

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Before Remi Adeleke was a famous actor, he was a Navy SEALGod brought about an incredible transformation in the life of the “Transformers” star“While I would walk through this wilderness, I really had time to reflect upon myself in the silence because it was completely silent out there,” he says. “I began to think about how I treated my mom, how I treated people I claimed I loved, and I would think about things that I did in the past. I still yearned for that paternal presence. I couldn’t really sleep and then I began having suicidal thoughts.“I was at the lowest point I had ever been in my entire life,” he says. “I didn’t know anything about the Bible. But by a simple act of faith, I literally began to cry out to Jesus; ‘Help me, Jesus. Help me.’”He started hanging out with Christians, ones “who didn’t just read the Bible but actually lived the Bible,” he says.Change was happening in his heart.“I started praying. All I wanted to do was be with Him and do for Him and forsake that life I used to live,” he says. “I just wanted to live my new life with Him.”Remi surrendered his life to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and was born again.
http://godreports.com/2018/06/the-street-thug-who-became-a-navy-seal-then-a-hollywood-star/

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Howard Wasdin is a former Navy Seal Sniper The Last Rescue (See Amazon.) is an unforgettable tale of brokenness and healing, going deep into the firing line of modern warfare, through the agony of broken marriages, and onto a path of redemption and love. With a clear-eyed view of the inevitability of heartache and the power of God’s faithfulness Life is hard and it is important to have God in your life.
https://www.beliefnet.com/inspiration/articles/how-faith-and-loved-saved-a-navy-seal-sniper

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For 25 years, Floyd McLendon honorably served in the greatest, naval military in the world. He enlisted into the United States Naval Reserve in the summer of 1992. Fourteen months later, he fully committed to Active Duty…Since retiring from Naval Service, Floyd has traveled the country speaking professionally and is a published author. He is steadfast in his Christian faith, a devoted husband to Melinda, and committed father to their four children.
https://www.mclendonforcongress.com/about-floyd/

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McLean Bible Church: Todd Peters Prince William Campus Pastor (2020)
Todd was born in Texas and raised in Missouri. It was in the Ozarks that Todd fell in love with the great outdoors. He met his wife Nancy, at Southwest Baptist University their freshman year. Although he felt called to full-time ministry, current events led him to join the United States Navy in 1987. Over the next 26 years, Todd served in the military and in his local churches. Todd’s passion continues to be centered on God’s Word, helping others and spending time in God’s creation.
https://archive.mcleanbible.org/staff-directory
"Most seasoned operators fall back on the fact that the basics make you strong," said Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Todd Peters, senior enlisted advisor for Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training Command - Detachment Kodiak. "You face that no matter where you are deployed to."
https://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=28434
Interview: https://vimeo.com/67017875

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It is unknown if the following SEALs were/are Christians.

>The Pentagon on Thursday released the names of the 30 Americans who were killed last weekend when a rocket-propelled grenade fired by a Taliban insurgent downed their Chinook helicopter en route to a combat missionSpecial Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) John W. Faas, 31, of Minneapolis, Minn., Naval Special Warfare unit;Top of his class. Quarterback. Team captain.Faas' football coach had encouraged the natural-born leader to consider applying to a service academy to become a military officer, but Faas had decided in middle school that he wanted to become a Navy SEAL"This is where John felt he was called," said Ron Monson, the football coach at Minnehaha Academy, a private Christian school in Minneapolis where Faas graduated as the 1998 class valedictorian.

>
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford, Conn., Naval Special Warfare unit;Diane Warzoha, who had Bill as a student at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford, said it was no surprise that he fulfilled his goal of joining the SEALs.
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/44106253/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/t/pentagon-names-americans-killed-downed-afghan-chopper/#.XisoTmhKjIU

>(During) BUD/S one night…(Chris) Campbell and (?) Kelley had sung a Baptist hymn to keep their spirits up…
https://sofrep.com/news/heath-robinson/

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We all are part of "The Culture War." If you are a conservative, are you AWOL?

For you vets who are Christians—are you a warrior for Christ? The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has an article “God’s Call to Warriors.” Here are some excerpts.

Here’s what a warrior is. It’s not the guy who is armed with an AR15 and 30-round magazines. The warrior is someone who says: “This is what I love. This is what I hold dear. This is my family. This is my country. This is my faith. And this is what threatens it. This is the enemy. You will not hurt what I hold dear. You will not hurt what I love, without coming through me.” You know who the greatest warriors are in God’s Kingdom? Intercessors…Warriors stand between what they hold dear and what threatens it. The warrior fights for a transcendent cause, for something greater than himself. 

If you’re stagnated, if you’re stale, if you’re trying to figure out what you’re going to do with the rest of your life, you must get back to being warriors. America needs you…First you’ve got to decide what you believe. What do you stand for? Who are you? What are you all about? If you can determine what you believe, that will tell you what you hold dear. It will tell you what you have to protect.

(https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/april-2014/gods-call-to-warriors/)

ALL vets and non-vets will be part of a major “battle” in the future. Here is what you will see:

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes [were] as a flame of fire, and on his head [were] many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies [which were] in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on [his] vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelations 19:11-16)

The rider undeniably is Jesus Christ. He is designated as the “Word” of God, whom the apostle elsewhere identifies as the Lord Jesus (cf. Jn. 1:1,14; 1 Jn. 1:1). Christ is the divine Word (logos) because he is the thought and voice of Heaven to humanity (cf. Jn. 1:18; 14:8f). The will of God for mankind cannot be ascertained apart from the revelatory mission of Jesus of Nazareth.

The apostle sets forth the mission of the heavenly warrior. In righteousness he judges and makes war!

When Jesus came to earth the first time, his purpose was to inaugurate a system of redemption for Adam’s fallen family. As he himself said: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (Jn. 3:17). Once that mission of mercy was implemented, no further plan was to be offered. Aside from Jesus, there is no other sacrifice for sins (cf. Heb. 10:26).

In this latter instance, however, the Lord has not come on a mission of mercy; rather, he has arrived for judgment and the destruction of the ungodly. It is important to note the connection between “judge” and “make war.” The two occur simultaneously. The war is the day of judgment! See 2 Corinthians 5:10 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.

So similarly, the Son of God shall destroy those who have resisted his grace (Mt. 10:28; 2 Thes. 1:7ff).

The conquering Christ is followed by heavenly armies who also are mounted on white steeds. Moreover, they are clothed in fine linen, pure and white. This celestial army consists of the redeemed, who, by their obedience, have washed their robes in the Lamb’s blood, making them white (Rev. 7:14). They share in the Lamb’s victory because they were willing to commit their very lives to the Master’s cause (cf. 12:10ff).

The weapon employed by the Faithful and True One is that of a sword, a sharp sword, that kept on proceeding from his mouth (v. 15). This is an obvious allusion to his powerful word (cf. Heb. 4:12).

And so, at the time of judgment, the Savior will wage no carnal conflict with his enemies; he will merely speak the word, and they will be banished to eternal punishment (cf. Isa. 11:4; 2 Thes. 2:8)

The Messianic-warrior will tread the winepress of “the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty” (cf. 16:19). The “wrath” of God should not be interpreted in terms of an emotional outburst, as with frail humans; rather, it is a measured response of divine justice to human arrogance and rebellion. Too, it must be viewed against the backdrop of the Creator’s amazing love – so hatefully rejected by the masses. 

The most common impression of Jesus, entertained by devout Bible students, is that of a loving, tender, compassionate Savior. These qualities must never be minimized. But there is another side to that “coin” – the one portrayed in Revelation 19:11ff; that of the  righteous warrior.

(Excerpted from Wayne Jackson writes about “Jesus Christ – The Righteous Warrior”)
( ff: "and following" cf:  “compare.”)
(https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/811-jesus-christ-the-righteous-warrior)

To be on the winning side (God’s side) of that battle you must GET SAVED!

 

LEGACY INDEX