WWII was a global military conflict which spurred out of two separate conflicts and involved the mobilization of over 100 million military personnel worldwide. 16 million Americans answered the call to arms in WWII. My Grandpa was one of these WWII Vets who served his country as a Sergeant in the US Army.
Grandpa Distler passed away back in February of 1994 at the age of 79. Before my Grandpa went to heaven, I had the opportunity to spend some time with him. During that visit, Grandpa gave me the Bible that he used during his time in the Army. Grandpa was the type of person that wrote notes on everything. As a result, his Bible is full of personal notes. As I read through these notes I discovered three entries that really caught my attention.
The first item was a poem written in the back of his Bible. It is obviously about my dad. The poem shows that, like many soldiers off at war, Grandpa’s heart was with his family back home. The poem is entitled “My Baby” and goes like this:
A baby’s hand caresses me
His big blue eyes you really should see
He’s chubby and fat and loves to chat
It’s “Da! DA!” and “Ma! Ma!” and this and that
When he grows up to be a man
I’ll see to it he has a chance
He’s only one year as you can see
But I love him and he loves me
Another entry in his Bible that caught my attention was associated with V-J Day when America won the victory in the Pacific Theater over Japan on August 15, 1945. Grandpa was serving as the postal master on The USS Greely at the time when the commander of the ship announced the news and ordered a 21-gun salute. Grandpa used the ship’s postal stamp to stamp that date, August 15, 1945, in his Bible. Under this postal stamp he wrote these words,
“How my heart rejoiced at the news. No more guns! No more killing man! Praise God!”
There was a third entry that really caught my eye and must have meant a great deal to my Grandpa. On an entire page in the back of his Bible, Grandpa Distler described the account entitled, “The soul I led to Christ while on board the USS Greely.” That soldiers name was Jesse Halfren. Here is what Grandpa wrote:
“I had organized a Bible class on the ship and we decided to meet every night for prayer and Bible Study. This night, August 7, 1945, it was decided that we have three testimonies instead of Bible Study. Mine was the last. God convicted this soul who was led to our service. I took him after the service to the forward part of the ship where he cried his heart out to God. We were in the Mediterranean Sea and going into the Red Sea. One could see Mt Sinai in the distance. What an experience. God saved this soul. He couldn’t understand why he was urged to come to this service but he was convicted and my how he cried.
As I thumbed through my Grandpa’s Bible I also saw many verses that he had underlined. But there was one verse that he had more than underlined. He had boxed the verse in. I’m pretty sure Grandpa Distler must have shared this verse with Jesse Halfren on August 7, 1945 (8 days prior to V-J Day) – the day Jesse Halfren discovered the greatest freedom of all. That verse is Romans 10:9 which says this in my Grandpa’s Bible:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”