Monday, June 28, 2010

How I Began My Military Career-"Sam" S.

Four things in life I said I was never going to do -- join the military, get married, be a preacher, or work for the VA!  Guess what? Watch out what you tell the Almighty about what you are not going to do!  I served five years in the Army Reserves, 30 years active duty as a chaplain, 42 years of marriage, and 10 years as a chaplain at the VA Eisenhower Medical Center. And I can’t forget the almost nine years as the senior pastor of the Rock of Ages Evangelical Free Church, Leavenworth, Kansas.

How did this all come about?  A sweet young gal named Linda came swimming by my lifeguard raft in Northern Minnesota.  Four years later we were married. What a gal!  My dad, a WWII combat engineer, and my uncle Bill Meadows, a former Marine, kept telling their war stories. Barry Sadler kept singing about the Green Berets on the radio.  I heard the call.   I signed up for the US Marines, OCS, and was supposed to report for duty in October, 1965.  They lost my paper work.  Does that sound familiar?  Meanwhile I went to Ft. Snelling, Minnesota and signed up as a lab tech, combat medic.  I didn’t tell them about being sworn into the Marines.  I called the Marines and told them I changed my mind.  I should have heard from them about the lost paperwork.  They said they would get back to me.  I’m still waiting for that call.

I was wild medic to say the least.  The major threatened to send me and my wise guy buddies to active duty driving ambulances in Viet Nam.  That got our attention.  The unit chaplain and my youth pastor heard that I was interested in youth ministry.  They recognized that the military was the largest “youth group” in the world.  Acting wild in a serious business could cost folks their lives.  They told me that the Army needed “fired-up” chaplains to bring faith in someone bigger than themselves.  Meanwhile, Linda felt the call to be a missionary.  I was out-numbered and out-gunned.  I became a 2nd LT chaplain candidate in 1967 and went on active duty as a chaplain at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO.  After that I was assigned to the Lane Army Heliport of the 7-17th Cav, An Son, Viet Nam, and the rest is history.

I have served as chaplain for thousands of great soldiers, their family members and more than a few great general officers.  They are indeed a huge youth group.  Many gave their lives for the cause of freedom.  Along the way I had the complete support of a number one military wife.  Thank you, Linda.

I’m still serving as a chaplain for the VA, the bone yard of wounded warriors, and am a member of the Old Bastards, another group of old warriors. I make an effort to bring faith, hope and love to the broken down troopers at the VA and the OB’s.

Never say never.  Walk by faith, not by sight. 

If Moses could handle his most difficult assignment at age 80, Caleb at 85, and those stepping out in faith in Hebrews Chapter 11, I never say never.

Serving as a pastor and chaplain for 40 years, I never say never.

Serving 35 years in the Army, and 10 years with the VA, I never say never.

Being blessed with a wonderful marriage for 42 years, with five children, I never say never.

It is no secret what God can do when you step out in faith!

By the way, still waiting for a call from the Marines.  Apparently the paper work hasn’t surfaced yet.

I wouldn’t trade it all for anything.

May our Heavenly Commander continue to bless and keep us all.