Two nights ago, I picked up “Don’t Waste Your Life” by John Piper and began to read the seventh chapter. I was struck with these stories to show what truly is “cool” in life. It’s not the clothes, the friends, or your looks. It’s more than that. And living your life the right way is being willing to give it away because you know Christ is all there is to live for.
The following stories are not for those with a weak stomach. But these stories are so great…and the word “cool” just can’t encompass what these young men did for their country:
He’d fast-talked his way into the Marines at fourteen, fooling recruits with his muscled physique…Assigned to drive a truck in Hawaii, he had grown frustrated; he wanted to fight. He stowed away on a transport out of Honolulu, surviving on food passed along to him by sypathetic leathernecks on board.
He landed on D-Day [at Iwo Jima] without a rifle. He grabbed one lying on the beach and fought his way inland.
Now, on D+1, Jack and three comrades were crawling through a trench when eight Japanese sprang in front of them. Jack shot one of them throught the head. Then his rifle jammed. As he struggled with it a grenade landed at his feet. He yelled a warning to the others and rammed the grenade into the soft ash. Immediately another rolled in. Jack Lucas, seventeen, fell on both grenades. “Luke, you’re gonna die,” he remembered thinking…
Aboard the hospital ship Samaritan the doctors could scarcely believe it. “Maybe he was too young to die and too tough to die,” one said. He endured twenty-one reconstructive operations and became the nation’s youngest Medal of Honor award winner–the only high school freshman to recieve it.
Ray Dollins, fighter pilot at Iwo Jima:
The first wave of amtracs headed for shore. The Marine fighter planes were finishing up their low strafing runs. And as the last pilot began to pull his Corsair aloft, Japanese sprang to their guns and riddled the plane with flak. The pilot, Major Ray Dollins, tried to gain altitude as he headed out over the ocean so as to avoid a deadly crash into the Marines headed for the beach, but his plane was too badly damaged. Lieutenant Keith Wells watched it from the amtrac…”We could see him in the cockpit,” Wells said, “and he was trying everything. He was heading straight down for a group of approaching ‘tracs filled with Marines. At the last second he flipped the plane over on its back and aimed it into the water between two waves of tanks. We watched the water exploding into the air.”
Military personel listening to the flight radio network from ships could not only see Dollins go down; they could hear his last words into his microphone. They were a defiant parody.
Oh, what a beautiful day,
I’ve got a terrible feeling,
Everything’s coming my way.
William Hoopes of Chattanooga:
As a rainy morning wore into afternoon and the fighting bogged down, the Marines continued to take casualties. Often it was the corpsmen [medics] themselves who died as they tried to preserve life. William Hoopes of Chattanooga was crouching beside a medic named Kelly, who had put his head above a protective ridge and placed binoculars to his eyes–just for an instant–to spot a sniper who was peppering his area. In that instant the sniper shot him through the Adam’s apple. Hoopes, a pharmacists’s mate himself, struggled frantically to save his friend. “I took my forceps and reached into his neck to grasp the artery and pinch it off,” Hoopes recalled. “His blood was spurting. He had no speech but his eyes were on me. He knew I was trying to save his life. I tried everything in the world. I couldn’t do it. I tried. The blood was so slippery. I couldn’t get the artery. I was trying so hard. And all the while he just looked at me. He looked directly into my face. The last thing he did as the blood spurts became less and less was to pay me on the arm as if to say, ‘That’s all right.’ Then he died.
And let us never forget that poem there on the island of Iwo Jima:
Tell them for us and say
For your tommorow
We gave our today
So where are the young radicals for Christ? Where are those who are out and doing what they’ve been taught? Are you someone who wants to be like these men in your Christian walk but are scared? I know I’m like that, and we need to get it together and model these men’s lives. We need to live our life by proving to Christ that he is worth more than life. Can you do it?