EveryOne:Reaching Farther Together
some gave all
by John C. Carey
Learn more about Free Will Baptist Chaplains at www.homemissions.net.
On October 10, 2008, I had the honor of spending the day with 45 former soldiers and family members from the 82nd Engineer Combat Battalion, also known as the Blue Babe Battalion (after Paul Bunyon’s fabled ox). While celebrating their annual reunion in Springfield, Missouri, this group of veterans visited Fort Leonard Wood, my duty station since January 2007. These gentlemen are great Americans who served their country through some turbulent times.
The Blue Babe Battalion was part of a mass mobilization of American Troops to Germany, ordered by President John F. Kennedy to protect Berlin and West Germany from a possible Soviet Invasion. The engineers remained in Germany after the crisis and later relocated to Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany.
The Battalion spent the last 40 years of its existence in Bamberg. The name was officially changed to the 82nd Engineer Battalion after 1977, and they continued to make history until 2006. I know this well, because I was the battalion’s chaplain when its Flag/Colors were cased during an inactivation ceremony, March 2006.
On this day, however, I shared a memorable luncheon honoring the veterans at the post’s Pershing Club. As I listened to discussions ranging from the presidential race to sports teams and athletes, I couldn’t help but feel warmed by the friendship and camaraderie shared by this modern-day “Band of Brothers,” a bond forged by hours of training and combat.
I asked God’s blessings at the luncheon and again at a ceremony honoring the history of the 82nd Engineer Battalion at the Post’s U.S. Army Museum. Colonel Robert Tipton, Commandant, U.S. Army Engineer School, and CSM Robert Wells, the Engineer School’s Regimental Command Sergeant-Major, attended the event and hosted the ceremony.
During the afternoon, I joined the veterans for a tour of the base, and for several hours I listened closely as the old comrades swapped “war stories.”
My hours with these veterans gave me some great memories, but one moment shared with Roland Joiner stands apart. He pointed out the words emblazoned on a jacket another veteran was wearing. “All gave some; some gave all.” Then he told me the story of his half-brother, Thomas Long, killed in action in Vietnam in 1967. Every soldier who loses a brother-in-arms will never forget that loss, even years later.
Those words “Some Gave All” were used in a song written in 1992 as a tribute to those men and women who have served and sacrificed for freedom. The brave American Veterans with whom I spent a memorable October day know much about giving some, and they are well acquainted with the memories of those who gave all.
God has greatly blessed the United States, and I believe His Hand is still on our nation. Even in days of economic uncertainty and war, we have much for which to be thankful. America has thrived for almost 233 years now and remains a “beacon of hope” around the world. A large part of this is due to the efforts of men and women in today’s Armed Forces who defend our liberties at home and abroad, often in harm’s way. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines know well the meaning of the words “selfless service.”
Servicemen and women understand order and sacrifice and the power of word and authority. Jesus Himself recognized a centurion, today’s equivalent of a sergeant major or commander, for his faith (Matthew 8:5-10).
Yes, soldiers train, defend, and sacrifice for freedom and our way of life each and every day. It takes sacrifice to be a Chaplain as well, as we share the pain of deployment. Still, it’s an honor and a blessing to minister to soldiers and veterans. This is where God wants me.
Freedom is never free, as the saying goes, and brave Americans today, like those brave veterans from the 82nd Engineer Combat Battalion of the past, defend and pay the price for our freedom time and again.
Jesus understands sacrifice better than any one of us could imagine. Soldiers’ sacrifices—past, present, and future—pale in comparison to what He did for us. A divine soldier in a battle against eternal darkness, Jesus chose to die for our sins so every man and woman could be saved and spend eternity with Him. He made the ultimate sacrifice. But when he rose again, He won the final battle against death, hell, and the grave.
About the Writer: John C. Carey is a chaplain in the U.S. Army, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment. He is stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. To learn more about Free Will Baptist chaplains, visit www.homemissions.net.