HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
November 6, 2006, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

A bloody war, God’s Grace, Thanksgiving

Pastor Robert Hellmann, St. Paul Lutheran, Montrose

I was 16 when I decided I no longer needed God and walked away from His church.

At age 19, I arrived in Korea along with 2,000 other GIs. It was Oct. 1, 1951.

I was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division. The first two months were quiet.

Then, on Thanksgiving Day, the Chinese overran the 15th Regiment on Hill 355. Our outfit, the 7th Regiment, was in reserve after being on line for two months.

We were loaded on trucks and headed for the front line. It was a cold frosty morning, yet we were still wearing summer combat boots.

It was a long cold ride to the front. As we drove along the twisting, winding road, we could hear the thunder of artillery in the distance.

We glanced at each other, but nobody spoke a word. This is what we had been training for, and we knew some of us would not come back alive.

Several hours later the trucks stopped, we unloaded and began the two-day walk to 355. When we reached the base of 355, we were ordered to wait until dawn before climbing the hill.

All night long the artillery whistled overhead, crashing on the west side of the hill. Sometimes a round would land on us, killing or wounding our GIs.

At dawn the big guns became quiet. We began climbing upward. When we reached the summit, dead bodies were strewn everywhere.

To my right, lying face down, was a dead GI. To my left another dead GI was sitting in the middle of a destroyed bunker.

Along the west side of this hill were many dead Chinese infantry men. Many were missing arms, legs, or had heads blown off.

I screamed within myself, “Dear God, whoever You are, save me from this hell.’’

From that time on, I knew life would never be the same. Before we left for the front line, a Chaplain gave me a New Testament.

Whenever I had a spare moment, I would search the Scriptures, trying to find peace.

I found peace in the 23rd Psalm: “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.”

By the grace of God my life was spared.

When I returned to the states in June of 1952, my search for the true God began. A friend of mine invited me to attend a service at a Lutheran church in St. Paul.

Later, I was invited to attend the pastor’s Adult Information Class. It was here, through a study of God’s Word and by the power of God the Holy Spirit, that I repented of my sins and came to believe in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior from sin and Lord of my life.

Only through faith in Christ will one find peace, joy, and eternal life. Share the Good News with some lost soul today.

A grateful Christian to the glory of God alone.

(Note: This anonymous letter was previously received in the mail at the church office).

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