Culture

Hope From the Foxhole

Sometimes we need perspective when we're surrounded by things we fear.

Roger Helle · Apr. 3, 2020

I was only a kid watching a black and white WW II movie. The GI’s in foxholes were surrounded by Japanese in the jungle. They could hear the voices of their enemy calling out: “GI, tonight you die!” When morning came, several soldiers were dead, their throats cut. No one saw or heard anything.

I was barely 18 and on my first deployment to Vietnam. We were providing security for a new airfield at Phu Bai, only a few hours’ drive from the DMZ separating North and South Vietnam. We’d patrol around the base day and night, fill sandbags, make our perimeter defenses stronger, and then man them at night when we were not on patrol.

On one particular dark and overcast night, I was on a “listening post” — a two-man foxhole right on the edge of the base’s perimeter. We were the base’s “early warning system,” watching for the enemy to alert the base of a possible enemy attack. Only that night, I was alone for a four-hour shift. I was tired from the day’s activities, patrolling and filling sandbags. I was struggling to stay awake.

Sitting alone in my hole, I heard a noise in front of my position. Instantly, my body went on 100% alert. Every nerve in my body was tense; adrenaline pumped through my body and my heart pounded as I stared into the darkness in front of my foxhole. My mind took me to the old WW II movie. I knew there was an enemy soldier out there trying to sneak up and kill me!

I placed my K-bar (combat knife) on the edge of the foxhole, clicked the safety off my M-14, and peered into the dark. I knew my life was in danger. Suddenly … a lizard jumped over a pile of dirt in front of me. It scared the s… I mean it startled me! I nearly wet myself. Now, let me ask a question? Was I in REAL danger? No! There are no poisonous lizards in Vietnam. But did I “FEEL” like I was in danger? You bet I did! In reality, everything in me told me I was in danger, but in reality, not so much.

That’s the thing about fear. It doesn’t have to be based on reality, but it is still real to us. In some ways, I believe that’s what’s happening in America. I’m following the rules, staying home and self-quarantined, but what I’m not doing is watching hour after hour of “breaking news” of another case of COVID-19, another death, and another day of the stock market going bat-guano crazy!

We need to pause and turn to the One who can give us the HOPE we need. That’s the great thing about America. Whenever we face overwhelming problems, everyday citizens rise up and take on the challenge with faith and hope. You and I who have seen this happen over and over need to tell this younger generation that we will overcome this trial. We’ve had two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the 9/11 terror attacks. We will overcome COVID-19 like every threat we’ve ever faced. America is also a nation built on great faith. We take care of and look out for each other. We are still One Nation, under God!

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