The Catholic Defender: Grave Robber


One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite groups (Petra) of all time, their song "Grave Robber" would have special meaning for me.

I first went on active duty in the Army on February 7, 1985. Our military training at that time was matched against the Russian threat because the Cold War was still in effect. So all our training prepared us for when we did enter a war. The Viet Nam War is a great example. We had to know the weaponry that the Russian back armies would use.

On one occasion, we were shown a video of how the Russian Soldiers trained. This was while the “Cold War” was still in effect, at the end of the video, the Drill Sergeant invited us to ask questions from what we saw. After a number of troops asked their questions, I raised my hand to make a statement.

The Drill Sergeant gave me permission to speak. I then stood up and said, “Drill Sergeant, we have been watching how our counterparts train. One major reason why I prefer this uniform that I’m wearing now is because it protects our right to worship God in freedom and preserves our liberty to do so. On the other hand, these Russian Soldiers do not mind taking clubs and beating old men, women, and children because they were hiding in a barn to worship God. These people have to worship God in secret”.

At that point an immediate round of applause and cheering followed my words which surprised the Drill Sergeants. They was taken off guard with what I said and the response it got. This went on for another 30-40 seconds until the one Drill Sergeant regained his composure.

When he gave that look everyone went back to their sitting at attention leaving me standing their alone. The Drill Sergeant looked at me for a moment and said, “That’s all Private” and I sat back down."

I was fortunate and proud to have serve for over 26 years of active service experiencing many things.

We need to pray for our Military as we head deeper into the 21st century. There are a lot of challenges and the world is not safer because the threats coming from our enemies are determined.

It is fitting that my last unit I went to Iraq with, my Platoon motto was "GraveRobber". That was very special to me as I have served as a Combat Medic my whole career. I told my Soldiers that every life we save in Iraq was another Soldier we were sending back home to a family. That has been one of the highlights of my career, teaching and instructing Soldiers and preparing them to build a better Army for tomorrow. For me tomorrow has finally come. Through this time, I have been graced to have helped lead thousands to the Catholic Church. I have been able to see many come home after being away for a long time.

I am thankful to have played a part in all this, serving as a Eucharistic Minister in the field. I felt like David before the Ark, what joy I had being given this kind of responsibility. I thank God for the opportunity to serve him. I thank God for the opportunity to serve my Country. I've been in places that needed help in leading the music, I got involved despite the fact I can't sing that great. Even so, what a great experience I had through the years from Germany, Korea, Latin America, I sang badly my way through at times. To receive a thank you from Command because a family wanted to thank me in writing meant more to me than getting the Army Achievement Medal. That always meant a great deal to me.

My faith has been solidly intact my whole career. I am so thankful for that. It helped me carry the dead out of helicopter crashes, it helped me stay strong to save others who lost arms and legs. My faith has helped at times when I was hanging on by a scarlet thread. I have experienced Jesus's grace and I am so thankful. I was just watching an episode of Cheyenne (Clint Walker 1960's Western) and it reminded me of something else I am thankful for; my faithfulness to God's word gave me a reputation that even husbands didn't mind me serving with their wives because they knew they could trust me. That meant a great deal to me because it made me feel all the more Jesus's disciple! Before I start another chapter in my life, I want to say thank you to all of you.

Your prayers for your country I benefited from greatly. I had a rocket land and exploded well within the kill zone and I was not harmed. I've had bullets whiz past my head, you can sometimes hear them pass by. I've had IED strikes wounding a couple of my Soldiers and only one had to be sent back home. He survived and is doing well, I had 5 other Soldiers shot, two of them sent home, thankfully they survived.

I am fortunate to have taken all my Soldiers home. We lost a number in the Company and Battalion, that was tough enough. That is the basic truth of it. We saved many Soldiers, civilians, and even enemy of war that came in wounded. We snatched many from death and my Soldiers did indeed earned the title "Grave Robber".

The Combat Medic Prayer

Oh, Lord I ask for the divine strength to meet the demands of my profession. Help me to be the finest medic, both technically and tactically. If I am called to the battlefield, give me the courage to conserve our fighting forces by providing medical care to all who are in need. If I am called to a mission of peace, give me the strength to lead by caring for those who need my assistance. Finally, Lord, help me to take care of my own spiritual, physical and emotional needs. Teach me to trust in your presence and never-failing love. Amen.

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