Topics: Courage; Gratitude; Testimony; Thanksgiving

References: Philippians 2:2–3; 1 John 2:6

Thirty-five years ago, I was a young second lieutenant who had just married after graduating from the Naval Academy. My wife and I went down to Quantico, Virginia, home of the school where officers learn about honor, courage, and commitment. I shared a room with another married officer, John Listerman, who was a Christian. That meant nothing to me other than that he was a really nice guy. Because of John, I guessed this Christian stuff must be pretty good.

After graduating from basic school, John and I went to Camp Pendleton, California, where we joined the same battalion preparing to go to Vietnam. I then saw John Listerman as a tremendous leader who was aggressive and technically proficient. People loved him. He was committed to his troops, and his troops were committed to him. He was a marine’s marine.

In December 1965, John and I went to war. John Listerman’s war lasted one day. While on patrol moving through the jungle, we came around a corner in the trail and ran into an ambush. John took a 50-caliber round in his kneecap. As his kneecap burst, he was thrown into the air. The second round hit him below the heart and exited out his side. I was wounded also, but not as badly. I crawled about thirty meters to John, but before I could ask, “Are you OK? Can I do anything?” he said to me, “How are you doing, Chucker? Are you OK?”

When I said I was OK, he said, “Are my men safe?”

I said, “Your people are OK.” He turned his head and looked to the sky and repeated over and over, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you for caring for my people. Thank you for caring for me.”

(Note: John Listerman and Charles Krulak were evacuated. Krulak later became a Christian.)

—General Charles Krulak, from a message given at the Leadership Prayer Breakfast in Wheaton, Illinois (October 2000)