Honoring Albert Ogden, United States Army.
(Submitted Friday, November 9, 2007)
I was born in Woodville, MS. With no father in the home, times were hard in the 1920's. I plowed bare-footed and worked at every little job available. The years seemed to fly by until Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japan in 1941. Shortly after, I was accepted in the Armed Forces of our Dear and Precious Country.
I traveled on a ship for over two weeks, headed for Plymouth, England. I give thanks to the Lord daily for allowing me to be put on the wrong ship to cross the English Channel. The ship I was due to be on sank.
I can not tell you how a teen boy like me feels when he enters combat. War is indescribable, to say the least. Never did I realize how peaceful, how easy, and how safe it had been back in Mississippi. There was now hostility, hatred, killing, and wounded men everywhere I looked. I wept bitter tears of compassion when boys I trained with were wounded, bleeding and half -dead.
There are many details I'll skip because this story would be too long, but one of the greatest miracles is that I am alive today writing this at all. A multitude did not come home. Many vets made the supreme sacrifice; I love them and thank God for them. Rivers of blood have been shed to preserve and maintain the American freedom we so often take for granted. Many times I watched the sun rise wondering if we would make it through another day. But, the same God who hung the stars in space, created the universe, and breathed into my nostrils the breath of life was there with me.
Once in a fox hole at night, the enemy threw a hand grenade. My hand went up and batted the grenade back - even though I did not know it was coming. It exploded in seconds. My hand was raised to bat it back by an unseen force, and my head quickly pulled down by Someone bigger than you and I...My God!!! The grenade just knocked the leaves off the bush just above my head.
Once while crossing a river in Germany the enemy was firing at us and sinking our little crossing boats one by one. Our infantry company of nearly 200 men all disapeared except for two of us who made it to shore. The other fellow was badly wounded; I am not certain of his fate. I jumped into a foxhole the enemy had dug as shells fell everywhere and remained there until it was safe.
One day an 88mm shell exploded near my foxhole. My head was up when it should have been down. A piece of shrapnel went through the front of my helmet. It was no real injury, but I was unconscious for a while. One inch lower and I would not be here - to God be the glory! I went for a while with a hole in my helmet; that brought the boys great laughter. War is relentless. Between the hand-to-hand combat and booby traps the grace of God preserved my life time and time again.
Upon returning to New York Harbor after the war, tears ran down my face as I remembered the boys who made the real sacrifice, those who died so that I can live, love, and preach in this dear old Mississippi that I love so well. A sign in the harbor read, "Welcome home boys. Well done." We are free to vote and worship as we please because of the loyalty and sacrifice of so many.
Today I salute the men and women serving in Iraq and all over the world. And, I say, "Thank God" for all those who served in the past. Well, done guys and gals. Well done, and God bless you always!
Let freedom ring,
Rev. Albert J. Ogden.