HOW DO YOU HEAL A BROKEN HEART
The Old Sergeants platoon was patrolling just north of the Pakistani border and he had to admit it was WAY different than Iraq. They did a lot of urban fighting in Iraq but this was just plain black limousine transportation. In other words they were humping it out along a mountainous trail.
The Sergeant was uneasy about the number of places he could see for an ambush but he saw no other way to beat the Taliban out of their holes other than just walking up on them.
He had point and flankers out to give the rest of the platoon a little warning and he smiled to himself when he looked over and saw the Padre humping right along with them. And he was armed. Everyone in the Sergeants platoon had to be armed and qualified but it was unusual for a Padre to be so. In fact, truth be told the Padre shouldn’t even have been here but he had insisted.
The men respected him for that and he had earned the right to be called, “The Padre.”
They were just approaching the top of a small rise when all hell broke loose. Small arms fire and accurate mortar fire erupted all around them.
“Everyone move off the trail! They have it zeroed!” The sergeant screamed as he returned suppressing fire.
The heavy weapons squad opened up to give the other squads time to find cover and get a bead on where the enemy was. For several minutes it was utter pandemonium.
The old sergeant finally got a position on the enemy and ordered grenades and heavy fire. And as fast as it started it was over.
As soon as the smoke started to clear, the old sergeant yelled for a report.
All the squads reported in and the medic reported three wounded.
The sergeant moved his men to a protected area and called for evac.
Looking around he found no trace of the Padre.
“All squads! Location of Padre!”
No one had seen him since the firefight had broken out.
Running back up the trail he spotted the Padre right off. He was standing right out in the open with his carbine still pointed at a Taliban fighter.
“Padre! What are you doing? Get back with the platoon now!”
The Padre didn’t move. Tears were running down his face.
“Padre? This man is dead. Let’s move.”
In a very weak voice the Padre said, “Pappy? I killed him. He had a bead on the goon squad leader so I shot him.”
“Yeah Padre ya did good. Now let’s go.”
“No Pappy. You don’t understand. I KILLED him!”
He dropped his weapon and fell to his knees. “Lord Father forgive me!”
He had completely lost control and the old sergeant used his radio to have the goon squad to come up and physically take the Padre to the evac area.
Three days later the Padre would still not come out of his quarters. They had gotten back to their base and the wounded had been taken care of, but Pappy had a feeling that the Padre was a casualty.
Finally he couldn’t stand it anymore and he pounded on the Padre’s door. “Padre! Open this door right now or I’m coming in through it!”
Not a sound. But as he tried the door he found it unlocked. The room was dark but huddled in a corner he saw a small form on the floor.
“Padre? You ok brother?”
Slowly getting to his feet he said, “No Pappy. I killed someone. I took a life. I’m supposed to be a man of God and I have broken His commandment. He will never forgive me.”
Breaking out a bottle of Jack and turning on the lights Pappy said, “Padre. If you had let the goon squad leader be killed THAT would have been taking a life. You did what you had to do.”
Fighting for one’s country, for our freedom
“All of us were taught not to kill. That is one of the fundamentals of society. But we all know that war is different on a massive scale. In war you kill or be killed. Is it easy and is it easy to get over? Not for me.”
“Some of the sights and sounds of war will remain in your mind forever but that doesn’t mean this has to ruin your life or your relationship with the Lord.”
“Many have given their lives, as well as taken the lives of others, in battle to keep our country liberated so that we can be free to take care of our families, work, and serve our God to the fullest. This has been ordained from the very beginning of time by God.”
“Let me ask YOU a question. Is there anything you would not forgive your children for? You may not like what they have done but would you disown them?”
“The Lord says, is there a father among you who if his son asks for bread will he give him a stone, of if he asks for fish would you give him a serpent? Then, if you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your son, how much more the Father knows how to give good gifts to him who asks. Matthew 7:9-11”
The Padre looked up at the old sergeant.
Pappy smiled. “Well I DO listen to some of your sermons Padre.”
The Padre gave a weak smile.
“All true Pappy and I thank you. But I’m done. I am resigning my commission and going home.”
“You sure about this Padre? Sigh I see that you are. Fine I will handle the paperwork.”
As he was leaving Pappy looked back: God bless Padre.”
The Padre arrived at the airport and forlornly walked out to hail a cab when someone grabbed him from behind. As he turned around he couldn’t believe his eyes. It was the goon squad leader he had saved.
“Padre! Good to see you Sir. Heard you was coming so the wife and kids decided to meet you. And you’re staying with us and no argument.”
Dazed, the Padre didn’t know what to say; and he had no other plans for sure.
Three days later the Padre had started to settle down and relax. It was a very homey setting. The kids were playing and sounds of cooking came from the kitchen.
“Padre, you know I never thanked you for saving my life. You not only saved me, but you saved my kids from being fatherless and my wife from being a widow. I and the men have always looked up to you.” He laughed. “Yes especially Pappy. The men have come to rely on you.”
Tears started to form in the Padre’s eyes. “They need me? They DO need me! And I know God will forgive me.” He sighed. “I’ve made a horrible mistake! I got to get back!”
The squad leader looked at the Padre a little funny. “Mercy Padre. Don’t push it. We still got a week of leave yet before we have to go back. Nice of Pappy to get us both leave at the same time wasn’t it?”
“Leave?” The Padre looked up to the Heavens; “Thank you Lord.”