Christmas is marked with an asterisk in many people’s story. Such was the case with Dad.
Life on an Aircraft Carrier in WW II saw harrowing moments. The worst was October 24th, 1944. In the intense battles of Leyte Gulf, Dad and his fellow ordinance men had been busy loading bombs and ammunition onto planes. With enemy planes over head, strafing and dropping bombs, it had already been tough when a Japanese bomb went through their flight deck, exploding in the galley below. The resultant fire grew rapidly just below the bomb bay.
The initial explosion also crippled the fire–fighting lines. As her own bombs began exploding, CVL-23 Princeton was doomed. Huge sections of the flight deck hurled through the air and the ship turned into a floating inferno.
As smoke billowed; men were crying, screaming and dying. At edge of the deck, Dad’s best friend, Little Bill Tanner, was scared. He told Dad he couldn’t jump. He said, “Jack – I can’t swim!” Dad put a hand on each of Bill’s shoulders and shook him. He said, “Bill, I’ll go first, then you jump in right behind me. I will find you in the water and we’ll be home by Christmas.”
Dad jumped. He watched as other men and flaming debris continued coming over the edge of the ship above, swimming around looking for him, but never saw Bill again.
Dad was home by Christmas. He enjoyed a wonderful life. But he never forgot.
Every year at the Princeton reunion, Dad would ask other survivors if they had seen Bill Tanner in the water that day. Fifty some years later Dad found a survivor who had seen Bill in the water. The man cried even then, as he told how he was hanging onto a rope attached to the ship. Bill was hanging onto him and the rope as the bobbing ship and raising waves would pummel them against the ship, left them high out of the water, then dump them back under.
Then Bill slipped away and under.
Think about it.
Somewhere long before you were born, someone in your lineage stood at the edge of the deck of death beside another.
One survived, one didn’t. You are here now because someone survived.
Earn it by not becoming weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9).