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Posted December 19, 2012


Here it is Christmas 2012 and our soldiers are still in the trenches in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other locations around the world.

I don't have sons or daughters in the military so I've never felt the fear and anxiety caused by having a child deployed. However, after reading Edie Melson's book Fighting Fear: Winning the war at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, I have a greater appreciation of what mothers and wives must go through when a loved one leaves for war zones.

One thing I do remember are my Dad's stories about his four years spent as a paratrooper during WWII and in particular, one funny story that happened during the Christmas holidays. Holidays for those back at home in the States, but for those slugging it out in Europe, war as usual on the front.

The American soldiers and allies had pushed the Germans back into their heartland and were now fighting their way through knee-deep snow and as deep in some places as a man was tall. The paratroopers were usually dropped into enemy territory or fighting on the front lines. Sometimes, they dug fox holes. Most times, they kept pushing forward. And at night, evergreen boughs were strategically placed beneath trees to make a simple resting place. If the soldiers' bodies weren't next to the dampness, their teeth didn't chatter quite as hard and their spines didn't ache quite as badly. At one point, Daddy was so ill with a high fever that his commanding officer allowed him back to the medics. However, a doctor gave him an aspirin and sent him back to the front lines. All of the men were thinking about families back home and the warmth from homeplace hearths. Frozen Germany was a long way from those welcoming fireplaces.

Everything on the terrain was covered in white except for small portions peeking green from the trees. Some soldiers wore white military issued garb to keep from standing out and becoming a target for the enemy. It was doubtful Santa would find a soul in the neck of the woods they were slogging through. The freezing temperatures were causing toes to freeze. Fingers froze to gun barrels. Morale wasn't bad, however, it ebbed at low tide. What were the old folks doing back home? Everyone was missing their loved ones. At twenty-two, Daddy was considered an old man since only a handful of paratroopers out of his company of approximately 125 men had made it through the entire war. Fear was ever present for them and for those worrying back home. Would they even make it out alive since they were so far ahead of backup troops?

And all Daddy could think about was a cup of hot coffee and pulling his feet beneath his mama's table for a slice of country ham and a homemade biscuit drenched in sawmill gravy. A good hot meal would have been Christmas enough.

Yet one day, during the soldiers' struggles and advance to end the war, a portion of the mail made it through. And when one of the married soldiers opened a Christmas package from his wife, everyone had the biggest surprise in their military careers. What the soldier--Amburgy-- pulled out of the package was a tomato red union suit--long johns--with a flap in the back. The other paratroopers guffawed and had a huge laugh from that one ice breaker; there they were trying to hide from the enemy, and wearing red when nature called would have drawn in enemy fire like a bull attracted to a matador's red cape. The first olé could have been a bummer. (pardon the pun)

So, what can we send our soldiers this Christmas? They always love food. One mom's soldier in Edie's book, Fighting Fear, requested food because soldiers grow tired of dry military fare.

I once sent dog treats, dog toys, and flea collars for Angel Company's Yahya Khel Attack Dogs. Angel Company's four-legged friends help keep them alive by alerting them to strangers who might be carrying bombs.

But the most important thing we can offer is prayer. Prayer is free. We can all send out prayers. Not only for the soldiers but for the loved ones at home struggling with fear until their sons and husbands return.

In closing, Daddy didn't say if Amburgy used the long johns to kindle a fire or carried them with him until the war ended; at least the soldier was comforted by the thought that his sweet wife Connie was thinking about his needs. But Dad did say that even though Santa didn't find him that Christmas in Germany, the folks at a church back home were sending out special gifts he didn't know about -- prayers for him during the celebration of the Saviour's birth. Those prayer warriors knew Santa might not be a sure thing and show up, however, they knew Jesus could find a lonely soldier in the deepest, scariest forrest on the other side of an ocean far away from home.

And if you do know of someone who needs to learn how to fight fear while their soldier is deployed, Edie's book can be ordered through Amazon and Barnes and Noble and would make a great Christmas gift. But also remember this verse: "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken." Psalm 55:22 NIV

Let me know if you can think of other good Christmas gifts for our soldiers and I'll post them in the comments section.

(WWII photo from the military archives.)

Comments anyone?

If you would like to comment or have questions about this article, email me vmoss@livingwaterfiction.com

Great war story, Vicki. Our troops need covered. ~Irmgard Williams, writer, adjunct professor Trevecca University

Yes Irmgard, if we don't have loved ones deployed, we tend to get lax in our prayers for our soldiers, or I do, especially when I stay so busy.

Wonderful blog, Vicki. Makes me think of my own dad, who fought in WWII. Thanks for sharing. ~Emily Sue Harvey, author, Cocoon, Homefires

You're welcome Susie. Glad you enjoyed the article.

If you would like to comment or have questions about this article, email me vmoss@livingwaterfiction.com

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