“When I Have Your Wounded”

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. –John 15:13 NLT

In 1964 Major Charles Kelly served as the commanding officer of the 57th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance) in Vietnam. With only five aging UH-1’s, known as “Hueys,” the 57th’s primary mission was to recover wounded US soldiers.

Under Kelly’s leadership, the medical evacuation program grew and acquired the name “Dustoff,” taken from Vietnam’s red dust that swirled and dusted everything within range when the rotors churned.

Kelly was a soldier’s soldier, a man who stuck his neck out for what he believed. Wounded in World War II, Kelly almost died from his gunshot wounds. But this did little to deter him from doing what he felt he was called to do.

“He was morally and physically fearless,” wrote Major General (ret.) Patrick Brady in his article, “The Decline of Dustoff,” for The American Legion online magazine (June 20, 2013). Brady served in Kelly’s unit and, when Kelly was killed, took over leadership of the 57th.

Kelly was court-martialed three times, Brady reports, but he “cared more about doing what was right than about his career.”

He was called “Crazy Man” and “Mad Man” for his willingness to take on dangerous missions to rescue the wounded and fly at night, which up until Kelly took over, just wasn’t done. But Kelly knew it was vital to get medical help to the wounded as soon as possible.

“Why must a patient wait until sunup when helicopters fly just as well – actually better – at night, and the crew is safer from enemy fire?” Brady noted.

On July 1, 1964, Kelly flew his final mission, to what was supposed to be a secure area. Instead he flew into a “hot” spot, an area under heavy enemy fire. He was warned to back off, but Kelly refused.

“When I have your wounded,” he replied.

A few moments later an enemy bullet pierced his heart.

The next day that very bullet was dropped on Brady’s desk.

“Now are you going to stop flying so aggressively?” he was asked.

Brady grasped the bullet. “We are going to keep flying exactly the way Kelly taught us to fly, without hesitation, anytime, anywhere.”

“Inspired by Kelly,” Brady wrote, “Dustoff became the most revered and effective battlefield operating system in Vietnam, with close to one million souls rescued and unprecedented survival rates.”

Former Army Chief of Staff General Creighton Abrams praised Dustoff: “Courage above and beyond the call of duty was sort of routine for them. It was a daily thing, part of the way they lived.”

Kelly was posthumously awarded the US Army’s Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award that can be given to a member of the US Army for “extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force.”

“Greater love has no man than this,” Jesus said, “that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 RSV).

Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day, a day set aside to honor America’s veterans for “their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”

Let us remember the veterans among us, as well as those who have passed away and especially those who gave their lives in service to their country.

Thank you, honored men and women, for your service!

Thank you, Lord, for the men and women willing to sacrifice their lives for their country. They remind us of Your Son, who gave His life so others might live with You forever. Amen.

Read and meditate on John 15:9–17.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Image from The American Legion online magazine, June 20, 2013, “The Decline of Dustoff”

 

True Beauty

For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. – Jesus, as quoted in Luke 6:45 Berean Study Bible

I don’t remember when I first became aware of my physical appearance and began comparing myself with others. It may have been when I started school. Yeah, that early.

In first grade I wore my hair in braids.

When other girls came to school wearing nicer clothes than I had, my hand-me-downs seemed shabby and cheap.

By the time I was in third grade, my inferiority complex had taken root. That was the year I decided to cut my long, silky, straight hair and get a curly perm like the prettiest girl in class.

Well, what looked nice on her did nothing for me, except make me look like a poodle. I hated it! Lesson: What works for others may not work for you. Know thyself and be thyself.

That was the year I got glasses. Another item on the growing list of things about myself I detested.

And I always had to sit up front because of my hearing loss. I hated it! I was a marked child, labeled forever as “hard-of-hearing.” I despised that phrase! And I loathed myself.

I remember resting my head on my desk, closing my eyes, and envisioning myself in heaven, where I’d see without glasses and hear perfectly well. My hair would be long, straight, and silky once again. And I wouldn’t wear hand-me-downs.

I hid well my inferiority complex throughout my school days. It was only when I got my first job after college and could afford contact lenses and new clothes that I began to blossom.

But those attempts at bettering my physical appearance were rooted in my deep-seated feelings of inadequacy. I didn’t overcome them. I simply changed my outward appearance, hoping to measure up.

But when we’re using the wrong measuring stick, we’re going to get the wrong readings.

Eventually I learned the standard of true beauty isn’t what we see on the outside, but what we are on the inside.

“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him,” God told Samuel the prophet when he went to anoint the next king of Israel. “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV).

What we are on the inside determines our true beauty or lack of it.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart,” Jesus taught, “and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of ” (Luke 6:45 NIV).

Whatever fills you inside will eventually makes its way outside. It will overflow to do good or harm. It will leak out in unguarded moments.

I like the illustration I recently read about a person balancing a filled-to-the-brim cup. Unfortunately she tripped, and the contents spilled over on whatever was nearby.

What are the contents of your cup?

Love, peace, joy, contentment, compassion . . . these are the good things that will spill out.

But anger, resentment, jealousy, bitterness, hatred . . . these things are like a caustic poison, eating away at your insides and destroying your life and relationships.

You have a choice over what resides inside your heart, mind, and spirit.

Remember the story of the old Cherokee and his grandson?

“There is a battle between two wolves inside us all,” the old man told him. “One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.”

two-wolves

“Which wolf wins?” the boy asked.

The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

Purify my heart, O Lord. Purge out all that displeases You and replace it with good. Then remind me to feed the right wolf. Amen.

Read and meditate on Luke 6:43–45; 1 Peter 3:3–4.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.