Category Archives: Commentary

Uncle Phil was a Hero

phil

Phil Fielder was a handsome seventeen-year old Iowan whose remaining boyhood years were set aside by World War II. Four older brothers enlisted soon after Pearl Harbor. He followed their lead by signing up on July 10, 1942. After boot camp, he attended airplane mechanic’s school and specialist’s training for P-38 fighter planes.

But like many other young men, Phil hated sitting on the sidelines, thousands of miles away from action so he volunteered for gunnery school. The heavy casualties in the air war over Germany caused his transfer orders to quickly pass through proper channels for his relocation to Pueblo, Colorado. The Army assigned him to a B-24 bomber crew as a flight engineer and a machine gunner after graduation.

In the midst of the Army’s hurry-up-and-wait schedule, Phil married Helen Kimler on October 24, 1943. Their honeymoon was brief, but fortunately, she was able to travel with him to Colorado. The months quickly passed until Phil was assigned to a bomber crew. Helen left for Iowa, pregnant with their soon arriving child, while Phil flew off to war.

During World War II, more than 18,300 B-24 bombers were manufactured in America. It was a clumsy looking four-engine airplane with twin tails and a nose wheel. The cruising speed was 200 miles per hour with a maximum rating of 300 miles per hour. Aptly named the Liberator, it was armed with ten .50 caliber machine guns and could carry a payload of 8,800 pounds of bombs. 

Though fondly remembered by their ten-man crews, the B-24’s were anything but passenger friendly. Noisy, bumpy, cumbersome, awkward, cramped, and uncomfortable with no heat, no restrooms, no pressurized cabins, no padding on the iron seats, and no kitchen facilities. Temperatures were as low as fifty degrees below zero at times with winds gusting through the cabins from the open bomb bay doors and machine gun turrets. Each man used an oxygen mask at altitudes above 10,000 feet and wore two parachutes: front and back. 

Phil’s ten-man crew was a part of the 15th Army Air Force and the 485th Bomber Group. Their ages ranged from nineteen to twenty-three years old. Captain Tom McDowell was a respected veteran at the ripe old age of twenty. Uncle Phil was the second youngest and the only married man on the crew.

Landing in Venosa, Italy, the B-24 crew flew their first mission on September 6, 1944. Thus, began their countdown towards a minimum of thirty-five bombing runs over enemy territory before being reassigned to less hazardous duties.

Thirty-five missions over Germany, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Austria. Thirty-five flights bombing oil refineries, railroad yards, ammunition plants, ball bearing factories, and whatever else. Thirty-five trips through anti-aircraft fire filled with deadly flak so heavy it appeared to be black clouds. Thirty-five times taking off knowing one in three planes might not return that day. Thirty-five tests of courage far beyond what normal men could ever hope to bear. It was no wonder these crews became life-long friends after enduring such perils together.

On one particular mission, Phil’s B-24 came under heavy anti-aircraft fire just after dropping their bombs. A piece of flak tore a hole in the hydraulic reservoir tank, spraying oil all over the cabin. If left unrepaired, the bomb bay doors would remain open and the plane’s wheels could not be lowered into landing position when they returned to the base. Valuable seconds ticked off. Something had to be done or the plane would have to be ditched, forcing them to use their parachutes. A dangerous last resort for B-24 crews.

“See if you can do something! And be quick about it!” shouted Captain Tom to Uncle Phil.

Phil saw a small broom under the pilot’s seat. He grabbed it, broke the handle off, and made his way toward the hydraulic tank.

The trek to the rear was dangerous under normal conditions because there was no aisle. Just an eight-inch wide catwalk spanned the thin aluminum doors, but on that day, the bomb bay doors were wide open with high winds ripping through them. The plane flew at an altitude of twenty-eight thousand feet, with temperatures at forty degrees below zero. Slippery hydraulic oil covered everything, including the narrow catwalk.

Phil unhooked his front parachute pack and edged sideways over the long oily catwalk, much like a high wire walker in a circus. He crossed the open bomb bay doors to the leaking tank. Arriving there, he cut off a finger on his leather glove, shoved the broom handle into the lopped off piece, and rammed the jury-rigged wad into the tank’s gaping hole. It worked. The leak stopped.

Was there a band playing for our hero when he arrived back at the base? No. Did any reporters rush to write about his heroic act of courage? No. Were any medals of honor pinned on his chest? No. Did he really expect to receive any of this? No. Phil instead received the grateful thanks from the ones he considered the most important people in the war zone: his crewmembers.

Phil and his crew completed their quota of thirty-five bombing missions in April 1945 and then were reassigned back to the states. There he reunited with Helen and finally met his seven-month old son, Philip, Jr.

Uncle Phil summed up his actions on that day with the hydraulic reservoir by saying, “Somebody had to do it. It just turned out to be me.”

(Excerpt from The Hunt for Larry Who by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2014, Amazon eBook)

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under America, Commentary, Fourth of July, Inspirational, Uncategorized, Writing

Do We Still Need Prophecy and the Spiritual Gifts?

dolly-335

A commenter on Dr. Michael Brown’s recent column, Charismatic Movement Needs Some Self-Policing: “The fruit of the Charismatic Movement has not been good.”

Like many critics, this person could only see the thorns of the Charismatic Movement and not the beautiful rose blossoms that have blessed numerous lives, including mine.

On May 20, 1985, I decided to commit suicide. This decision was based on my failure to put together a farm publishing company. All of my financial sources were maxed out, with the only untouched asset being a $125,000 life insurance policy on my life.

Suicide was not a problem because I was an agnostic. My not believing in God relieved me of worrying about Hell and God’s eternal punishment for my unbelief. It seemed like a good business decision on my part.

For some reason, I stopped at an insurance agent’s office that afternoon. Bill wasn’t my insurance agent nor was he a close intimate friend. Our relationship was built on my coaching his son for a teen baseball team the year before.

Bill invited me into his office. I sat down on a chair in front of his desk while he sat on the opposite side.  We talked about baseball, but in the middle of our conversation, he paused and stared at me. “You’re thinking about committing suicide, aren’t you?” he said.

His words hit me like a sledgehammer. How did he know? It was my secret $125,000 payday. I was speechless. As I sat there, a vision played across my mind about my car ramming into a viaduct and killing me.

I wept. “How did you know?” I asked.

“Oh,” said Bill, “the Lord told me while we were talking to each other.”

His words shattered my unbelief. God was alive and He cared about me.

We continued talking for a while longer. He gave me a book to read: Power in Praise by Merlin Carothers. Bill stated how the small book had changed his life a few years earlier.

When I arrived home, I began reading the book. After finishing the first eighteen pages, I walked into the bathroom, closed the door, looked into the mirror and said, “Jesus, I’ve tried everything else and nothing has worked. I guess I’ll give You a try.”

Instantly, I was changed. I bowed down on the tile floor and worshipped my new Lord and King.

How a reader views my salvation testimony probably depends on which camp of Christianity the person presently sits in.

Eight to ten percent of American Christians might pooh-pooh my salvation testimony because they’re cessationists who believe that prophecy and the spiritual gifts ceased at the end of the apostolic age.

Another fifteen to twenty percent of Christians might jump up and down, saying, “Amen, brother.” These are the Pentecostals, Charismatics and others who wholeheartedly endorse prophecy and the spiritual gifts.

That leaves a balance of seventy to seventy-five percent of American Christians who are not in either of the first two camps. They have heard about prophecy but have not seen the spiritual gifts functioning in their own churches. For the most part, they do not hold any opinions one way or another on prophecy or the spiritual gifts.

What does the Bible say about prophecy and the spiritual gifts?

Pursue love, and earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. (1 Corinthians 14:1)

The Apostle Paul wrote the above verse in his first letter to the Corinthian Church around 55 AD. It explained the spiritual gifts and their proper usage.

The historian Eusebius pointed out the importance of prophecy in an event that occurred only ten or eleven years after Paul’s letter. A Messianic believer in Jerusalem prophesied that everyone should flee the Holy City to save their lives. The prophecy also reminded the believers of Jesus’ prophecy on the first Palm Sunday.

By early 69 AD, every Messianic believer had fled Jerusalem. Most went to a city in Jordan, named Pella, which was about sixty miles from Jerusalem.

In 70 AD, the Roman army led by General Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, slaughtering nearly a million Jews. This calamity fulfilled the prophecy spoken by Jesus on that first Palm Sunday.

The number of Messianic believers who fled Jerusalem were about sixty thousand in total. Those believers loved Jerusalem and their Jewish neighbors. They would have told everyone about the prophecy, but sadly, the Jewish army had won some battles against Rome when the prophecy was first spoken. Therefore, most Jews ignored the words of those Messianic believers and remained in Jerusalem. The majority of them died.

What if someone today prophesied that we should evacuate San Francisco or Chicago or New York City or Washington D. C. or wherever because the city was about to be destroyed?

Maybe you’re thinking something like this could never happen, right?

The Book of Revelation tells us about the horrific destruction which will occur in our world sometime in the near future. Half of the earth’s population will die during the seal and trumpet judgments. Most of the cities will be destroyed. If believers don’t take the mark of the beast, we won’t be able to buy or sell anything, including food and medicine.

So, how will believers survive without prophecy and the spiritual gifts?

Maybe our American-held belief of a pre-tribulation Rapture will be accurate. Maybe believers will be out of here before the bad stuff happens.

But just in case, it might be a good idea to develop an ear for prophecy and learn about the spiritual gifts now.

(The above post appeared as a column for WND.com on April 13, 2018 which can be seen here.)

2 Comments

Filed under America, Christianity, Commentary, Faith, Gifts of the Spirit, Prayer, Prophecy, spiritual warfare

Are Demons Responsible for Inner City Violence?

WND logo

My new weekly column entitled, “Are Demons Responsible for Inner City Violence,” can be read by clicking here.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can perhaps read it better by using the Chrome browser rather than Safari. Also, you can go to the app store and download a free app called: WND.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Christianity, Church, Commentary, Gifts of the Spirit, Prayer, Prophecy, Race, spiritual warfare, Uncategorized, World Net Daily, Writing

China and Israel: My End-Times Teachers

WND logo

My new weekly column entitled, “China and Israel: My End-Times Teachers,” can be read by clicking here.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can perhaps read it better by using the Chrome browser rather than Safari. Also, you can go to the app store and download a free app called: WND.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Christianity, Church, Commentary, End-Times, Israel, Prophecy, World Net Daily, Writing

Harry Truman and the Jewish Haberdasher

WND logo

My new weekly column entitled, “Harry Truman and the Jewish Haberdasher,”can be read by clicking here.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can perhaps read it better by using the Chrome browser rather than Safari. Also, you can go to the app store and download a free app called: WND.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Kingdom of God, America, Prayer, spiritual warfare, Israel, Jerusalem, Commentary, World Net Daily

The Day My Mom Told Off the Police Chief

WND logo

My new weekly column entitled, “The Day My Mom Told Off the Police Chief,”can be read by clicking here.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can perhaps read it better by using the Chrome browser rather than Safari. Also, you can go to the app store and download a free app called: WND.

2 Comments

Filed under America, Commentary, humor, mother, World Net Daily, Writing

When God Set Me Free from Hating America

WND logo

My new weekly column entitled, “When God Set Me Free from Hating America,”can be read by clicking here.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can perhaps read it better by using the Chrome browser rather than Safari. Also, you can go to the app store and download a free app called: WND.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Christianity, Commentary, Forgiveness, Kingdom of God, Prayer, spiritual warfare, World Net Daily, Writing