“GO TO THE LIGHT!” And Other Personal True Survival Stories by Charles (Zeke) Bundschu

An original watercolor by Jon Pilkington of a Sequoia Gigantea that was a favorite of Mom (Virginia Shepherd Bundschu) that spoke to her heart (iPad/bazaart photo).

[Editor note: Zeke has written about his good and bad experiences honestly with which to show his plot: Some progress toward redemption — and even relative holiness. However, all human souls have bodies to train by pruning (1) if necessary. “Man regards his body as good“(2). Photos with permission under fair use provision of US Copyright Law. Catechism quotations permission granted, January 3, 2017. All rights reserved. — Frank Ketoret]

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Please see APPENDIX for all endnotes: pruning(1) catholicexchange.com Catechism of the Catholic Church 377(2) — LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA

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C O N T E NTS

Preface ——————————————————————————-3

Introduction————————————————————————4

Acknowledgements————————————————————–5

PART ONE – God put me in a secular family.

Chapter 1 Mom taught me how to pray.———————————6

Chapter 2 How God found me in faraway Japan.——————-16

Chapter 3 My Christian Initiation.—————————————-23

Chapter 4 How I left California.——–————————————31

PART TWO – Marriage and Divorce to Helen (with children)

Chapter 5 How God showed me to Helen.——————————41

Chapter 6 When we got promoted.—————————————-49

Chapter 7 Arrival surprise at Travis.————————————-57

Chapter 8 Europe and a world tour.————————————–65

Chapter 9 Living alone through a dark place.———————–75

PART THREE – Last Subassembly, Marriage to Vivian.

Chapter 10 How it happened my life was salvaged.—————84

Chapter 11 Life with a godly woman.———————————–90

Chapter 12 Our trial separation.——————————————98

Chapter 13 Layoff and callback.——————————————106

PART FOUR – Final Assembly of my Catholic Soul.

Chapter 14 Two decades ago.———————————————114

Chapter 15 Our new church.———————————————–121

Chapter 16 Final assembly delivery.————————————128

APPENDIX.————————————————————————138

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Preface

Zeke has found the most meaningful theme of his life-story: ‘We begin with great-great grandfather, Jacob Gundlach, who, as the patriarch of our Californian family, pioneered San Francisco in 1850 to 1858 having established his Bavarian brewery next door to Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, as, we have recently learned, he was Catholic.

‘He returned to Germany, the Fatherland, to marry his beloved Eva Hofmann, and to make their honeymoon tour of Europe.’ My 2nd cousins and his family have the wonderful winery(7) in Sonoma. (Eva Hofmann Gundlach Letters And Poems, Del Oro Publishing, El Granada CA, 2016, gunbun.com)

I have just became Catholic, and have learned the principle of being grafted onto a powerful root system of world renown: The Roman Catholic Church. Being “rooted and grounded in love(8) is my theme here. (Ephesians 3:17, biblehub.com)

‘My life became a rootstock that was pruned from a secular family tree, when God found me some 56-years ago. I had joined the US Marine Corps and was shipped overseas to join an elite group of aviators. My story can show how God gently got my attention, and has transplanted me into his family.

‘How can I tell my story in the context of anything family? Great question! If my sister and cousins remember me, it would be as a child and then maybe even attending one family picnic in 1984, when I travelled to California to see Dad and Alice, in Sonoma. They brought me to cousin Jon Lindeman’s place in Winters, California.

Our family is my true objective. I am just one clipping that was pruned away from Californian people. The family connection is still there, no happenstance here. I must share my experience as I found life — one-step-at-a-time — for the benefit of everyone, even today.

‘The way I understand this record, is by faith. “Faith seeks understanding.(9) And, understanding faith, “Brings truth to reality(10): Quotes from Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury began to unfold my moderate study of theology; theology is the queen of sciences(11). This eventually led me into Catholicism. (Wikipedia.org, 3.nd.edu, got questions.org)

‘Zeke’s life-verse: “Trust In the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; but in all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”’ (Proverbs 3:5,6 NKJV)

— Frank Ketoret, Author of Going up with Yeshua(12) (incensefrank.wordpress.com)

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GO TO THE LIGHT!”

And other personal true survival stories.

By Charles (Zeke) Bundschu III

Introduction

Greetings! My story is about the highest standard of human life that I’ve learned; although it does take a lifetime for me to learn. I must share this. It’s like an anointing: An unction. Catholicism means universal.

I want to tell this in four parts. First, how I sensed God put me in my secular family. Second, how God found me far away in Japan. Third, in my exodus from California to Texas, how God got my attention for marriage. And, fourth, in my exodus from Texas to the (promised land) Alabama, for retirement, and out-processing; how God showed me into his Roman Catholic Church family.

The best way to learn about life, God, and his calling in life, I think, is to give up! Right. Because I cannot possibly know anything of God and the things of God, until he can win my favor. Yes. He is God. He made us: I can never be God or make him. So, I need to stop trying, relax, and listen to him — the Holy Spirit is able to speak — and our hearts able to hear, when tuned-in to his holy words. “Faith comes by hearing . . . God” (Romans 10:17 biblegateway.com).

My story is about me — which is about the life I gained when I allowed myself to pursue a more godly and responsible life-style. A very simple philosophical approach, read, think, relate, and step up. (The theology part is accepting the various concepts when given the understanding.)

Oh, don’t worry, this is my personal, humble struggle to put my singular life-experience into a larger frame. A description of ancestor immigration is better: From Germany with love and a dream to plant a vinyard. I cannot hope to top that, but we need to see what they saw, how God led them; and if we can follow.

An example, I was just making my bed, which involves flipping the mattress. Have you ever done that? In my room, I have a large crucifix hanging over the headboard. So I rotated the double mattress clockwise, lifted it up from the foot of the bed, so it rests upon the bedsprings sideways, and covering the crucifix. Then, I carefully worked the lower part of the mattress away from the headboard in order to finish the heavy flipping. This takes several attempts, and puts me between the mattress and the headboard . . .

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Taking a brief rest, I notice the large crucifix is right over my shoulder, and Christ (as corpus) is right next to my head. Suddenly I get the thought of being so close to him dying on his cross, I can relate because my death is not that far away. My cross is coming soon . . . but the good part — my death, as I’ve learned, will be a happy one — for me.

Sounds extreme? Maybe, but to have lived almost four generations, I realize nobody but Christ has ever lived to be raised from the dead. My story can help our youth realize the truth about joining Him and learning what He promises can become reality — receive life everlasting — like our Catholic ancestors.

You will make them able to understand the truth. They will turn away from darkness to the light. They will turn away from the power of Satan, and they will turn to God. Then their sins can be forgiven, and they can be given a place among God’s people—those who have been made holy by believing in me.” (Commission of Jesus to St. Paul, Acts 26:18 ERV, biblegateway.com(13)

By the way, holy (vocabulary.com) means something sacred, set aside, set apart for a purpose of our Holy Creator-God.(It is a spiritual reality(14). (web-church.com) See spirituality(15). (Wikipedia.org)

“God’s word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool? Clean my slate, God, so I can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work; then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin. *These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.” (Psalm 19:11-14, The Message) [Mom’s prayer]

A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S

I want to personally acknowledge everyone who ever shared my space with me. The most meaningful associations were with children because I heard today how you are the kingdom of God. Thank you children! I will surely acknowledge you when getting to heaven. I thank God for you daily. All the children in our church family are so angelic–only the innocence of Christ the Messiah is worthy–thank you children! (To Terry for iPhones, iPads, and Wifi internet access!)

To my self-publisher, WordPress.com, thanks for all you have done to keep me going through the years. It is a privilege to be your blogging client. We have no contract, and don’t need one. We have an arrangement like no other–worthy of many thanks!

I need to express my thankful heart to Mom, and to our Mother Virgin Mary. “Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising?” Thanks Mom for showing me to be a morning person, a person able to hear and obey the admonition to . . . go to the light.

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CHAPTER ONE – How Mom taught me to pray

FIRST MIRROR IMAGE, TROUBLE WITH A-BOMB, MOVE DOWNTOWN, CATHOLICS DON’T DIE, BOY SCOUT LIFE, WHEN WE LOST MOM, OUR MOVE TO RENO, RETURN TO SAN ANSELMO . . .

My appearance was not a concern until one day I ventured into our parents bedroom looking for my missing toy gun thinking maybe it was taken away for a punishment of some kind. And I noticed my photograph in framed portrait on Mom’s dressing table. Mom was folding clothes.

“Mom, why are you keeping this awful picture of me?” I asked because it showed my weak eye before the corrective surgery. My left eye was inward so very much that it made me look imbecilic.

“It’s a record of my only son, whom I love and want to remember, as he came into the world. You were three when you had the surgery. Remember?”

“Yes, I remember having to not see anything because patches were put over my eyes. That was awkward, but I also remember the toy horse, godmother, Lele, brought me.” I said.

Alas, we had a godmother. A really nice older woman, a widow, whose husband was a family friend, and passed away before his time. Something like helping her, enabled her to help us when needed. She was a godly person, but with a different god. Having lived in Hawaii, she worshipped Buddha. I say this because she had an 18-inch image of Buddha sitting on her hall table next to her apartment entrance.

I never found my toy gun. It was a nice gift, but I think Dad wanted less memories of his army service in the war. . .

Which brings to mind the time Dad was injured, and Mom brought me to the kitchen table to pray for Daddy. This was a big deal. Sitting up in the chair, I was barely able to see over the table, but I noticed a letter and the very old, leather-bound book, that was her family heirloom.

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“We are going to read a verse from this bible, son; and then, we are going to pray to God. Okay?”

“Yes, Mommie.” I said.

I had no idea what she meant, until she read the letter from Daddy. Then I knew she meant business, to make a serious request of God. Dad had been shot in the leg, that was serious enough to send him to a Paris hospital in France.

Mom prayed in her own words according to her heart’s desire for help. I bowed my head. Similar to the small prayer above*, about writing this, you know, “Ask and you shall receive.” She read, I listened. (*See Introduction)

When Dad finally returned, quite a while later, he was healed, and showed me his knee. But he looked different. He’d lost all his hair. Mom, Barbs and I were so happy to see Dad return from the war, sacrificing his beautiful hair felt like a small sacrifice because of his love for us.

Another time when my mother shared her faith was when I was five—even a year before starting school. And it was at the dedication of that very school, Brookside Elementary, even a public school. We walked down the street to the school that was maybe three long blocks from our house.

A crowd of people were gathered at the front circle where the flag was flying from its flagpole. Everyone met the new principle, sang the national anthem, and prayed with a local pastor. When the prayer began, Mom asked me to bow my head. I remember hearing:

“Lord, bless our school, and bring peace to our neighbors, safety for all the pupils, and fill all the needs of every parent who brings their children. Thank you for our community, our county, state, and nation. In the name above all names . . .” And everyone said,

“Amen!”

That was the last time I walked with Mom. She knew I knew the way. But she may not have cared if I had any memory problem and could find my own way there and back. She was a good mother, and she knew her place. From then on, God was my guide, though I may not have known it, she did, obediently.

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That school was where I learned to draw, to count to one-hundred (in the third grade), and where I played after school one time and was caught by a janitor who suspected I was a thief, and told me so. That accusation brought me to tears of denial. I believed those events were God’s answer to me.

TROUBLE WITH A-BOMB

Some time after that, was when a Catholic neighbor, a boy named Eddie D’Maestri, came to our house to see me and play. This was before we moved from Sir Francis Drake Blvd, and after the time I supposedly threw a rock across the street and hit a lady in the eye . . . I don’t remember doing that.

So, I had no idea what to do with Eddie and suddenly, I made up a game:

“Let’s play dropping the atomic bomb on Japan!”

“Okay! Sounds like fun.” Said Eddie.

“Let’s use this tree as our B-29; and let’s go around the house to find our bomb.” I suggested, motioning toward the garage around the side of the house.

And Eddie followed my lead. Not having a clue about where our game together was leading, we found a galvanized bucket in the garage, and began building our bomb.

“Here is a big rock.” Eddie said, and picked it up, and I put it in the bucket.

I found a brick and some smaller stones. Then Eddie added more rocks. It was getting heavy. I felt it was time to load the bomb.

“Our B-29 is none other than our tree here.” I said pointing to the thick trunk, low hanging branches and small green leaves. “I’ll be the pilot, you be the bombardier, I will get up first, you hand me the bomb, and I will hold it for you, until you get up there with me.”

“Okay!” Eddie said, trusting that I could do all I said I would do. He bent over the bomb as I climbed. I climbed up two branches above my bombardier, and called,

“Open the bombay!”

I reached down without any plan of where to put the bomb, grasped the handle which Eddie struggled to hold up for me. Having grasped it, I slowly pulled it up to the first twig that presented itself for my use. Being half in a fantasy and half in reality, I quickly hung the 15 pound bomb on the two pound twig thinking I’d find a better one:

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But as soon as I released it, it broke, and fell in slow motion—beyond my ability to stop it. I yelled,

BOMBS AWAY!

The bucket-bomb caught Eddie by such surprise, hitting him in his head—weight plus gravity times distance—forcing him to fall screaming to the ground. He bounced and rolled to avoid shrapnel and immediately began running home, crying all the way:

Mama! Mama! Maaamaaa!”

That was the last time I ever saw Eddie DiMaestri, and we moved away about two years later. Oh, when Dad heard about it, he grabbed me by the ear, and we had to go to his house and do two things: apologize for my stupidity, and gain some assurance, that he would recover. Eddie was unavailable.

“Am I going to be spanked Daddy?”

“No son. You didn’t disobey any rule your mother and I have over you, so you are to never do such a thing again. Be assured, if it does happen again, your small fanny will be sore for a week.”

And so, my play-time imagination was harnessed to more conventional tactics, like playing in the dirt out back. Toy soldiers, jeeps and tanks, and wonderful scale airplanes to simulate any more conventional bombing runs.

MOVE DOWNTOWN

Having moved closer to downtown San Anselmo, just off San Rafael Avenue, to Grove Lane, Barbs and I were given our own upstairs rooms. The house was older but more favorably located. The San Francisco Presbyterian Seminary was in view from my window, and it’s chimes played hourly for us.

It was here that one night, when taking my bath, I had the thought to ask God if he would clean my body on the inside as I cleaned the outside. And it worked! My age of innocence was extended at least another year. I would run up the curvy street shouting,

“God loves you! God loves me! God loves us!”

That year I failed the fourth grade because of my low reading-level score. So Mom arranged for me to do the grade over. Dad also asked for a tutor to come to my room and patiently sit with me for lessons in reading. That really opened my eyes. Reading in front of class was no longer a threat. It was a Godsend.

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We had a lot of good Catholic neighbors our age to play with, and we visited their church once. I remember having a good friend named Russell Thayer. He invited me to play with him over at his house and I rode my bike across town to see him. We really connected for some reason. He was special.

CATHOLICS DON’T DIE

But one day Mom called me to come sit down with her and she told me how Russell was involved in an accident. She quietly said he was hit by a car in their school parking lot and he was killed. Oh! What a shock. I cried myself to sleep, and did not play outside for days, until his funeral. Barbs and I walked to their church and sat thru the memorial service. That was not a good memory: Why did God take him?

Recovering from such loss of a friend took a few years and I have to tell how Dad got me willing to become a Cub Scout if he volunteered to be the pack master. That was an easy choice because I knew he cared for me, and he wanted me to benefit by becoming what he had learned as a child, Scouting.

I willingly followed the man who was willing to lead other boys like me into a program designed to bring boys into maturity. I was personally proud to be his son. Cubs was easy and included den mothers. Plan was to learn something about nature — emulating wolves in the wild and the tough wilderness.

No, my mother was not a den mother, she should have been, but she was home with Barbs. They were not able to join the boys who wanted to learn boy’s stuff. That masculine identity was necessary for me. There was mainly the big ordeal: leaving home for the first time. Summer camp was great for that!

BOY SCOUT LIFE

I attended Boy Scout Camp for two weeks at age eleven. I Became a new person. The activities were interesting and challenging. Camping skills was my attraction. And the ten-day pack trip was a really exciting event. We were led into the Tahoe National Forest at mile-high elevations.

The scenery was so picturesque having been cleansed by winter snow just melted. We discovered many old, gold-rush cabins in their ghost town setting, preserved from pilferage. The land is public but inaccessible from roads; it made perfect camping hikes. Lakes were for private swimming.

I cannot say enough about the benefit I personally received at the Camp Chubb Lake of the Marin Boy Scout Council located near Soda Springs and Nevada City in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. To learn survival, in nature, and in society. To get a break from school and home routines: Scouting was for me!

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I was able to become a camp counselor for two years. Age 12 and 13 found me doing the Skills training. I was still in grammar school, but because Dad was my leader, I was picked to lead. That was cool. High school for me was age fifteen and sixteen.

WHEN WE LOST OUR MOM

Our mother passed away when I was 16. All of our first cousins came to her funeral service. I really hurt over that time. Mom was the best of friends. She had succumbed to sclerosis of the liver. There was no cure for that, and she was warned by Dr. Hartman, that if she couldn’t stop daily drinking her glass of sherry, and smoking, that she would die — even two years before she died.

I remember going to the hospital the day before she died. She wanted to ask a favor of each of us. I leaned over for her request to me, to hear her soft words,

“Will you promise me something, Zeke?”

“Yes Mommy.” I said.

“Promise me you will never hurt anyone. Can you promise me that Son?”

“Yes, I promise you Mom.”

She was in pain, and struggled to speak the words to each of us. Then she relaxed as we left her alone, and said goodbye. It was a phone call that came the following night we were in bed that we heard Dad answer when he was told of Mom’s passing away. Dad quietly came upstairs to tell us,

“The hospital just called to say your mother is gone.”

That was a very hard time for us. The funeral was the worst experience I think I ever had, (except the helicopter crash in Vietnam). I cried the whole service. I could not help crying so loudly. But nobody made any objection. I cried and cried. I know God heard my cry that day, he knew my grieving heart.

I remember the location of her grave, and Dad would take us to visit her grave often enough so that our hearts would heal. And at school, a classmate also lost his mother, who I was able to share some sentiments of compassion with. We shared some time just hanging out. It was a comfort just to know we were not alone. (Mom was only 46.)

A MOVE TO RENO – THE BIGGEST-LITTLE CITY – WAS A HEALING PLACE

Two years later, Dad moved us across the state to a wonderful place called Reno, Nevada. He was given the task to begin a branch office there for his employer, The Hartford. High School there was refreshing for me. My sister and I shared some of the same classes, except for the English, art, and gym class.

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I excelled in writing a short composition about my playing baseball in grammar school, and how a famous pro baseball player came to talk with the fans of the town’s little league. He was related to Eddie. (You remember, the Catholic boy on whose head I’d dropped the atomic bomb.) It was his cousin from the New York Yankees, Joe DiMaestri.

I was surprised to have the young teacher read my paper to the class. That got my attention, but not enough to even think to pursue a writing career: English was not my major. (I learned to write in the Army as a commissioned officer: a Journalism course.)

Our stay in Reno was a healing time for me to help let my mother go. One godly thing that helped me arrive emotionally, was when we three arrived in town. We moved into the rent house, and the very next day was Sunday — and, we were all invited to visit the church service with Dad’s associate there.

It was the worship service of the first Methodist Church in downtown Reno. All three of us were expected. We sat in the back, but stood up when asked for visitors to stand. (This was historic!) I actually looked at Dad differently for this experience. Imagine, our family in God’s house together! (Thanks Mom, thanks Mother, thanks God)

The very next day, Barbs and I had our first day as juniors for the spring semester at Reno High School. Following the morning classes, I went to the cafeteria for lunch. It was a totally new environment that welcomed this strange child in my Drake High School letter-jacket. And who greeted me?

It was Joan, the only daughter of the Methodist pastor, who sang in the choir even the day before, and knew to seek me out. She was a doll! Blond and buxom (if you know what that means), with smile and eye contact, I knew God was present—Lord! ‘Make me a Methodist!’ This was heaven already!

Joan, a high school cheerleader, gave me the royal tour of the place after having lunch together, she knew of my ability to ski. She already knew how the spring ski team needed me to fill a slot — if I was interested. I was, and that got me a huge jump-start with her and the members of the ski team.

I was privileged to be invited to the Methodist Church pastor’s home and meet privately with Joan’s parents. I began to date her, and we became kissing cousins. She was a lot of fun, and knew where to go to have fun. We went to the Junior Prom in a fancy downtown hotel. I thought that was special.

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I competed in the jumping event. I did not know how to ski jump! But it was something macho I felt I could do, and because Joan got me to enlist, I wanted to try. After having practiced for a week, when the Far West Point Race came up, I gave it my best shot. The spirit of the team-mates was terrific. With all the conditions ideal, I jumped 118 feet without falling. And that helped score the extra point for our team to win.

And we made the trip to Colorado Winter Park to ski in the Junior Olympics. I was so psyched on my runs that I failed to succeed even one jump. But the chance to try was spectacular. I lacked experience, but had heart.

Summer break in Reno was another first. I was given a job to make deliveries for an advertising agency. From clients to agency to the bank, deliveries on scooter were something I could do. Also the Methodist summer camp at Lake Tahoe is something I remember well. Joan and I were romancing in moonlight!

The big plus was I was given the family car to go on dates. Just to find a mountain view with city lights, Reno was a spectacular place for this. I was not interested in learning Methodist teaching, but my wounded heart found much needed healing within their camp. (Thanks to you, Joan, and God!)

RETURN TO SAN ANSELMO

The experience of a mountain high school was very beneficial to me. We could begin again, while I felt like a new person altogether — having won a letter in skiing. I was very popular among all the clubs and activities. Four years of football helped too.

I had applied to attend Humboldt State College and was accepted for a Forestry major on the condition of catching up in math. My love for mountain hiking and the plan to serve as Forestry Aid for summer work at Modoc National Forest helped motivate that.

Dad was going to help me with Humboldt, but Barbs became engaged to a sailor, so my hopes for a good engineering school were dashed by the price of a decent wedding, I never attended (I have no memory of ever attending her wedding to Joe Repp.) Oh, the dream about a forestry career was inspired by a local lumber yard owner who invited me to attend a local, Rotary Club dinner. I was honored.

My summer job with Modoc National Forest as forestry aid, was challenging. I was placed with a team of men and trained to prune a stand of virgin pine trees, I learned to use new muscles, and smoke . . . but the big event was fighting forest wild-fires.

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The Shasta Trinity Fire in 1959 put our team into hot-shot status and we worked 12 to 14-hour shifts to build a fire break: Very hard manual labor. But, we were flown in by helicopter and I had a chance to talk with the pilot about his helicopter. Later in the Marines, I was able to train for that aviation duty.

How I got from junior college into the Marines, is a good story. My only sense of skill to do anything was art. But because I could draw and paint and make some semblance of good design or composition, I thought of such talent as non-challenging. My heart was not in it. I even tried playing on the college football team. What could that hurt? I thought a good sport should try . . . a big mistake.

With my size and weight, I was assigned to be a fullback. I went to one practice. I played in one play. I was handed the ball for an end run. I knew where to run, got up to speed, when suddenly, I got hit. I was hit so hard, It knocked me out of the practice, out of the field, and out of the team—uh-uh, no more!

I learned my first college lesson. Don’t assume anything, because nothing comes easily.

Junior college was not for me. Matter of fact, a girlfriend of Barbs, Rowena, happened to meet me as we crossed campus during the finals week.

“Hello Zeke! How are you doing? Are you up for another semester?”

“I don’t think so, Ronnie. I failed English again. That disqualifies me for Berkley.”

“Well Zeke, there is always community service, or you can join the military.”

“Oh Ronnie, where’d you get that idea?”

“A little bird, a girlfriend of mine, mentioned you in our girl-to-girl catchup, the other day. And she described you as looking like the Marine Corps’ poster boy.”

“Really? That may be what I need to hear, friend. Tell your little-bird-friend, I will consider her advice. Thanks.”

“Say hi to your sister, Zeke.”

I waved to her as we parted and began to think just how practical such a move on my part might be. But also there were two men whom I had befriended in the football team trial. I did not make the team, but they were bigger and stronger than I was, and they did. They had both signed up for a 6-month program.

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This is the clue for a practical way of how a college person can join the reserve unit locally. I was counseled to go to the local unit and begin the process by the physical exam and mental test. So, I followed up with such advice, and was found eligible. I signed up and was assigned to boot camp.

With this, my dependence upon a secular parent ended. I willingly sought a military organization that supports church choices of its members.

To end this chapter, I need to review where my story is going: How God found me; some errors I made; and how I was led to leave California.

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CHAPTER TWO – How God found me

Beginning fresh as a young adult is the dream of every youth, but the planning and preparation is the help of the wisdom of parent’s support. There was some talk of funds for college to begin to pursue a forestry major at the forestry school and engineer curriculum, but Barb’s wedding changed such plans.

By a hidden benefit of military life, I was permitted time away from drill instructors to attend the worship services of one’s choice, and convinced going to chapel services was more beneficial than not going. It reminded me of time shared with my sister, only now, with brothers who cared to share.

One helpful pointer was mentioned to me when told how to gain favor from the drill instructor: When asked to volunteer for the left guide position in the platoon — be the first to volunteer for that, but try to avoid volunteering in general. Which I proved by volunteering to demonstrate a judo defense move.

Do not volunteer to attack a self-defense instructor with a cardboard knife! It was the stupidity that I fell into for not remembering to not volunteer . . . Very much like my only football play in college, I was in way over my head. Play, maybe, but not fun! I was shocked to be slammed to the ground seeing stars.

The experience of Marine Corps boot camp (Army, “basic”), was for me a wake-up call. The training is to do more physical stress activities, but do it with a team—in lock-step. The squad, the platoon, and the company, each has their place in organized infantry maneuvers. The discipline is precisely co-ordinated.

The training tested my courage, endurance, and will to sacrifice if necessary. To find myself in a forced run in step — while singing in cadence that runs it’s course, but then continues again, is done to prove the integrity of the team’s will. Here is where the weakest will is pressed to fail. One boot falling out, stops us.

When the final week of boot camp arrived, I was asked to re-enlist, and told the added training opportunities available. I jumped at this. Aviation training in Tennessee would increase the choice of duty assignments, to serve overseas, and that was attractive to me, and so I signed up.

I was awarded a promotion upon graduation, and that was an encouragement. I was in good health, better shape than football season. Yet my hormones were looking for God in all the wrong places. The secret to making success is finding God in all the right places, so I had to wait for that to happen.

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Marine Corps basic was the best thing to straitened me out. I valued going to Protestant chapel services. It was a liberty I had grown up with, and just that choice gave me the godly favor I needed. While in aviation training, at Millington, Tennessee, the command sergeant major called me into his office. (Photo credit; USMC Drill Team, NAS Millington)

“Son, I noticed your name, and just wanted to know if you are a relative of Captain Geary Bundschu?”

“Yes sir, he was my father’s cousin who gave his life on Guam in World War Two.” I said.

“Well, I was privileged to have known him and served under his command.” He said from his desk.

“My dad knew him and spoke well of him often. Thank-you for telling me, sir. I am proud to be his relative, and to be a Marine today.”

“That’s all, Son; thanks for coming in to see me, you’re dismissed.” He said, and I smartly left.

Following aviation training, I received orders to sea duty aboard the USS Princeton, yet for that more training was required. Sea School was a return to San Diego and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD). Located across the large parade field, I was feeling good about this assignment, but it changed.

The week before graduating there, orders came down for a small unit at Camp Pendleton, California. There, the small group I knew and related with, got promoted by on-the-job (OJT) training. That took a few months. While there, I remember an incident that got my attention. I was the duty NCO.

There was a commotion in the squad-bay that I tried to calm down. Noise. Yelling and laughing while playing cards in the sleeping area. So I went and told everyone who was doing it, to stop with the loud noise already. I did not take names or make any log entry, like I should have. My bunk was there too.

The next night after having the day off, I felt I could sleep and the squad bay was quiet . . .

WHAM! I was socked in the face. The rude awakening was from a more senior marine who was drinking and took offense over my order to quiet down when I was on watch the night before. He dragged me out of bed and began hitting me again and again. He was bigger so I had to take it . . . part of the job.

17


I remember going to a chapel service and felt good about God helping me get over such conflicts. That was a healing revelation. I remember it came over me that I was not alone, and maturing by adjusting to my new environment. Maturity meant fitting into my duty placement. With help from God it happened.

When I turned 21, as I was assigned to VMO-6 at Camp Pendleton. I took liberty, went to a bar off post and ordered a drink. I wasn’t in uniform, and I expected to be asked show identification. But it didn’t happen. I was looking for friends, or any friendly people, but they didn’t happen either. Some birthday.

We were organized as a cadre (the next group of replacements for overseas tour of duty). Such a rotation of Marines is routine, and since we were trained for ship duty, I was looking forward to seeing classmates. But that wouldn’t happen until the spring cruise after three events I’d like to share.

My training complete, I was assigned to my own helicopter as crew-chief. I was responsible to preflight daily, sign off flight status, and voluntarily accompany the aircraft to every mission. This helicopter was made by the Kaman Aircraft Corporation and was designed for max stability and maneuverability.

You may have seen the HOK-B [for helicopter, observation, Koman] helicopter: The configuration seen from the front is two pylons supporting two separate rotor-blades, side by side, able to rotate alternately in opposite directions. Their tip-path planes were high in the middle and low on the sides.

One of the earliest missions I remember, was when our squadron was called to rescue a Marine from a ravine in the northern training area of Okinawa. I was in a passenger seat behind the pilots, so I was able to operate the hoist, on the left side, behind the copilot. We were guided to a field near this ravine.

We landed where an officer was signaling for us to set down. I was told to get out and run over to the naval officer and get directions for the rescue. As I approached him, I recognized his face, and he was a chaplain. Oh my gosh! It was Richard Walenta, a Lieutenant J.G. in the Navy, serving as battalion chaplain!

“There is an infantryman in a tree, who will point to the Marine to be extracted!” He yelled over the chopper noise.

“Richard! Is that you?” I blurted, not saying sir hoping he recognized me.

I was wearing my flight helmet, so I took it off, “I’m Zeke Bundschu from Boy Scouts.”

“Yes! I recognize your name, but you have grown since we knew each other at camp!”

18


“Great seeing you again Chaplain! I will try to visit at your office one day. Till then?”

I said hurriedly due to the intensity of the moment. I saluted and recovered my helmet. He returned my salute by the time I was back in the chopper to plug into the intercom. I told the pilots what the Chaplain said, and we followed his direction, pointing toward the deep ravine to our left.

We were up in a hover, turning left, and slowly lifting up till we saw the Marine in the tree, who was pointing down below us. We acknowledged his directions, and began descending while I thrust my head out the hatch (left door) — after fastening my seatbelt.

I viewed the steep sides of the ravine that narrowed to a stream below, I immediately began lowering the hoist, while telling the pilot to stop descending and hold-steady—which was difficult because the hover had no ground effect cushion. The hoist strap was caught wisely, using a shirt to dampen static shock.

Once the Marine was attached, I told the pilots I am to bring up what looks like a dead patient because his shirt was tied over his head. Still, I had control, and was keeping the pilot informed of my progress. When a funny thing happened. The alarm for an electrical failure sounded, and the hoist stopped.

Our patient was not quite at the level where I could pull him into the back seat. So the pilot told me to hang on while he made an emergency landing. With that, all I could do was to hold my arms around the corpse to the side door hatch until we could land. In minutes we landed in a field on the other side.

There was total chaos on the ground, but our landing was smooth, and the pilot shut down the engine. Medical people came forward to receive their patient, and as soon as the blades stopped, we were able to discover our electrical problem. I looked around the back seat area.

“What’s the problem, Corporal? The pilot yelled.

“My seatbelt buckle is the culprit, Sir.” I said.

He looked in the backseat area and noticed that while I was attending to the hoist operation, the buckle was pushed hard onto the large electrical bundle of wires, melting the insulation and causing a short that halted the hoist from operation, and setting off the alarm. It was my seatbelt, but I wasn’t using it.

What I was using, was the extended belt that connected to a central ring to enable safe hoist operation and that was my story, and why the belt buckle was flopping around exposed to the electrical bundle, and my kneeling on it — causing the problem. We pulled the circuit breaker, and flew home normally.

19


That experience was exciting for me. It made my job more significant. I felt encouraged for two reasons: I was able to make needed contact with the ground command, and I gained experience to properly operate the hoist in a rescue attempt. We were on a training mission when we were called to help.

It was maybe a month later that a squadron commander’s mast was called at formation. I was recognized for my quick thinking and bold action to help make the rescue mission successful. This recognition came with an award given by the Kaman Aircraft Corporation, their honor scroll award.

I certainly don’t remember praying during such a rescue attempt, but my confidence level was high. I knew what to do, and I did my duty to the best of my ability . . .

That occurred in the fall, so for the winter months, I was chosen to transfer to the VMO subunit in Japan with the Atsugi Naval Air Station. The mission of such subunit was to provide support to the Mount Fuji Training Area, delivering mail or airlift observers of combat maneuvers, etc..

I felt good about serving in Japan mainland, but don’t remember ever attending chapel there. Once, the commander wanted to hold a party on the Marine Corps Birthday. That was spectacular: Good food, good drinks, and fun-loving women. Even entertainment of a stripper! That was a long night!

Returning to Okinawa after four months of cold, I remember stepping off the passenger ramp and could breathe again. My cold and sniffles were gone! The very next week, our whole squadron began the annual spring cruise to the Philippine Islands. That cruise lasted a month, and felt refreshing.

Beginning this event, I was promoted to E-4 Corporal which enabled me to serve as duty NCO. We were flown off the USS Princeton to land at the Sangley Point NAS on the Manilla Bay. I was tasked with issuing liberty cards, and did not need a work detail. New NCO plus new billets equaled liberty for all.

But the First Sergeant didn’t think so.

“What! You better hope and pray that nothing happens on your watch, Corporal!” He said gruffly.

Nothing did happen. Thank God. I was confident to do the new guy as a non-com leader, so it happened. Everyone made the liberty boat and had a fine time in Manilla. Frankly, I was happy to just be on terra firma. You know how that feels. The short tour there was a tactical exercise, and flights around islands.

20


One time I recall how we flew to the large island of Mindoro. We set up camp on a beach. With support from the Ceebees (slang for combat engineer battalion) They set up and made comfort stations along and around the areas of beach operations. What I will always remember is making a last check.

One event that was not military, but more cultural, was when some children came up to us when we were given time to chat with civilians—it’s unavoidable, they come up to me wanting to trade, and they appear smart to ask what can we give for their possession.

“Hey Marine, what can you give for my swivel knife?” Said a youngster holding a fancy knife.

I thought a minute and figured I might share my cigarettes. “How about cigarettes?”

“I will take cigarettes, how many?” I offered the carton, he grabbed it and ran away happily shouting.

Return cruise to Okinawa was uneventful. A good catch-up on sleep was in order.

The big event that happened Wednesday the day following our arrival back to Futenma Marine Air Facility, when given the afternoon off for recreation, I was changing into civvies (civilian clothes), in our platoon quonset When a sergeant entered.

“Does anyone here, want to play golf with me?” He yelled openly.

I heard him and raised my hand in response. “Yes sarge! But I have no clubs or shoes!” I yelled back.

“That’s okay since the golf course provides them.”

I was just dressed, and locked my locker. And left my bunk neat and tidy for my return later that day, whenever that might be.

“I’m called Chuck, Sergeant. Nice to meet you. You play golf often?” I asked.

“Hi Chuck, I’m Gary. Well, when I get a chance. You won’t believe the great course available for us.”

21


We walked out to the street where his moped was waiting. Gary made no excuses — we hopped on and sped off post rode up highway 1 to the Kadena Air Base where we showed our military ID’s and rode to the special services golf course: A beautiful nine hole course with views of the South China Sea.

We played 18 holes and each won a round. I was very impressed with such recreation facilities, and it was the only time of four years of duty there that I played it. I just looked it up on google earth! But that was a memory I’ll never forget. And here’s why. Coming out to his scooter, Gary said,

“I have another place to go, and you are welcome to join me, if you want.” He said getting on looking very sympathetic, and I motioned for him to finish.

“It is our midweek fellowship supper at the Central Baptist Church.” He said smiling.

“That sounds better than the base movie theater, thanks!” I said without hesitation.

We rode back past the base and about three blocks on the left was a humble concrete building and sign showing Central Baptist Church. Just located between our base and the main highway.

We walked into the fellowship hall with a crowd of people and a smell of good food. I was very pleased to be among the throng of American families. This was a wonderful place. How was I so blessed to be here? Good question. Such events are not just incidental. Like a plan was unfolding for me!

I was introduced to the pastor and a deacon, and was told by Gary he would not be taking me back — having another place to go. That was fine to me.

Following the fellowship pot-luck meal, we all moved into the auditorium. Having eaten a good home-cooked meal was refreshing. I remember being asked on my return to base, how I liked the meal.

The deacon had a car to ride me back to my quonset, and I noticed he was saluted by the gate guard and we flashed our ID’s to get on base. No one but the commander of my unit had or was allowed to have a car. I thought he was a Captain or above. We stopped at my quarters and he asked me,

“Did you enjoy our fellowship Chuck?”

“Yes sir, of course I did.” I said with heart.

“Would you like coming back to fellowship?”

“Yes sir.” I said, thinking to say good night.

22


CHAPTER THREE – My Christian Baptist Innitiation

THE BAPTIST AND THE PRESBYTERIAN TEACHINGS

Then would you be interested in learning more about us?”

“Yes.” I was not late getting back, so, I was willing to hear more from him.

“This is a small, marked New Testament. It is self explaining starting at the very front.”

I took what he handed me, and opened the cover of the book.

“It says, turn to page 184.” He said.

So I turned to page 184 and found the verse underlined. I showed him I see it. Then he read the verse.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” [John 3:16,17]

At the bottom of that page it says to turn to page 302. So I turned to page 302, and he read the verse.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” He said.[Romans 3:23]

Then I noticed the next page number: Turn to 307. And I turned to the next verse.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

[Romans 6:23] The next verse is, turn back to page 305.

“There are only two more passages, Chuck.” Deacon said.

God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:8]

At that page bottom was, Turn to page 313. I turned to the last passage and read along as he said the words.

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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. . .For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”. [Romans 10:9-10,13]

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“Have you seen these verses before, Chuck?”

“No sir.”

“Then, we may conclude how these four verses from Paul’s letter to the Romans, called the Roman Road, is the entry gate to heaven and eternal life . . . as it says, and to gain heaven and eternal life, we must do something . . . It says we need only pray with our heartfelt words, to receive Jesus Christ — have you ever prayed to receive Jesus Christ to be your personal savior, Chuck?”

“No sir,”

“Wouldn’t you like to now?.”

This was the big question, I had to live 22-years to hear. But the deacon said it so matter-of-factly, objectively, and without pressure. An invitation: It was left totally up to me to decide my own fate. This opened my mind to a rush of thoughts.

You can just leave! Go! Open the door, run away! What would your mother have you do?’ I thought.

“Yes.” I finally said, reluctantly, but remembering how I felt among the members.

“Good choice! Now we can pray. I will pray what the verses say, ‘believing in our heart and confessing with our mouth’, called the sinner’s prayer of repentance — sorrow for sin, and admitting Jesus is Lord and Savior . . . Let me pray first. Listen to the words: Just what I described, as we learned God’s Word says in this New Testament. (We can trust this bible-version).”

“Okay, go ahead.” I said.

“You pray in your own words.” He said.

We bowed our heads sitting in his car in front of my quonset. It was an eternal, quiet moment. Everything stopped.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Chuck and his honest, willingness to receive Your holy Son by faith—believing in his heart, confessing with his mouth, that he is a sinner, sorry for sin, but willing to personally receive Jesus as personal Savior—to be saved, according to your word, I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.”

24


So I prayed simply, “Heavenly Father, thank you for Deacon (here) showing me to introduce myself to you, but of course you know me and my heart. I am sorry for my sin, and I want to receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Please accept me, forgive my sin, and lead me to new life. In Jesus name, amen.”

“Wonderful prayer son!” He said.

I wondered how was I supposed to leave, and I had questions.

“Now you can be baptized, which may happen in a couple of weeks. What do you think?”

“Is baptism necessary for salvation?” I asked.

“No, Baptists believe it demonstrates, your saving faith already, but that Jesus says to be baptized.”

We shook hands, I thanked him, I’ll see you Sunday, and got out of the car. I went right to my rack. Lights were out, so my getting into bed was quick and quiet. I laid there thinking about God. I put the small New Testament under my pillow. I felt a deep gratitude that my heart expressed in bringing tears . . . and fell asleep.

My duty as a Marine was the same routine, although having a new friend whom I felt related in a special way, a way not experienced before, a forever friend, if I never had one before, I was found by godly people who thought better of me than worldly people. My purpose in life had taken a step up smartly.

That was in April, a day and a month after my birthday. I was baptized ten days later on Mother’s Day, which was God showing me mom was interceding for me. The experience was exhilarating. A group of baptism candidates were prepared and dressed in denim clothing, and sitting on the front row.

The auditorium was a universal baptist facility (church) with space in front of the first row of pews, then 3 steps up to the platform where a central podium was prominently located, and behind that was the choir loft, having a low partition separating it from a stage-like podium. Behind that was the baptistry.

To get to the baptistry, since it was behind the central wall, we walked around to the side of the platform, to a side left doorway that led into where the back room was. It contained access up to a backstage stairway that led down into the water. The whole building was designed for baptisms.

25


Before the Mother’s Day worship service, my group of converts were led to the ready position about to enter the water. The lights dimmed. The pastor was in place in the baptistry, the water level was visible behind the tempered glass. Pastor stood waist deep and motioned to begin. Everyone was quiet.

Each candidate had a waterproof name tag. The first person slowly stepped down into the water. Pastor stood facing the membership while we were told to step in front of the pastor and allow him to grasp our neck and nose. After saying the words, he guided each of us to lean back bending to be submerged.

“Do you confess you have prayed to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?“ Pastor said.

“ I do.” I said.

“Having confessed your faith publicly, I baptize you Charles, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit . . . Buried with Him in baptism . . .”

The audience participated by leaning to see my face gently guided under the surface as made visible. The fact of total immersion is a specific requirement of the process as the scripture is defined by the Greek word for baptism, baptizo, meaning to dip under, immerse . . .

. . . And raised with Him in newness of life.”

Everyone saw my raising up from the water, and said,

“Amen!”

My baptism was real. It was confirmed with Catholic teaching as genuine. Although it is believed to be more than a Baptist ordinance, which means necessary to be done in obedience, it is a Catholics sacrament, which is necessary, and holds saving grace — even the forgiveness of original sin.

This very morning while sitting in my church pew, I received a mini-revelation about the Catholic Church in America. The ratio of adults to children sitting around me was at least one to four. My thoughts led me to think positively about each child being born into the faith, having been baptized at birth.

The real benefit is, as I see their being cleansed of original sin, children with their natural parents are all quiet and respectful. A direct benefit of not having original sin, because of its forgiveness and cleansing at birth. So with this, my conscience was alerted how this congregation will grow to fill up our society.

26


I was rebaptized into the Catholic faith because records over 55-years old could not be found. So I also experienced the provisional public baptism by water sprinkled on the top of my head over a baptistry font (bowl). God was there, because it occurred on my 78th birthday. Only divine providence did that.

My thoughts in the pew were not dramatic or supernatural; they were simply peaceful. The theme of this writing is about the life I was given, and about how it was lived to make some difference — toward the good of society. My hope is that it is not finished, and the future will bring reward for my family.

My life was changed! My service was beginning a totally new paradigm shift. I was able to think beyond the military box—my service was beginning to step up: From serving our country with God as sponsor, to serving God with country as sponsor. And the foundation key was grace to relearn absolute truth.

Not long after my baptism into the local Central Baptist Church, in Futenma, I remembered to visit my Scouting friend who was now a chaplain serving in the northern training area at Camp Hansen. I was on my own, had some money for bus fare, and walked out the gate and down to the main road bus stop.

I waited and watched, the first bus came along and it stopped and I got on.

“Camp Hansen ku da sai (Japanese for please)” I asked.

The driver showed me to put money in the box. And I put in a dollar, and he nodded. I found a seat, and when a woman got on I knew to give her my seat. So I stood up most of the trip. Camp Hansen is located twice the distance further than Sergeant Gary rode me to play golf, even 15 miles: But easy access.

I arrived at the gate that was off the main road, and the bus stopped.

Camp Hansen!” Yelled the driver.

Domo arigato.” I said as I disembarked the bus. (Japanese for thank you very much)

I showed my identification to the gate guard and asked directions.

“I want to find the chaplains office, I have to see Chaplain Walenta, please.”

“Yes Corporal, go about three clicks on this road, and you will see the headquarters. He is in there.” He said. (A click is military lingo for a thousand meters.)

I easily walked the distance, entered the building, and asked the clerk for his office . . .

27


THE PRESBYTERIAN TEACHING

“Chaplain Walenta, Corporal Bundschu reporting.” I said knocking on his small office door.

“Hey Zeke! Come in. Good to see you!” Richard said.

“Has it been ten years since we knew of each other at Chubb Lake?”

“Yes sir, lets see, I was thirteen, and I’m pushing twenty-two.” I said slowly.

“Great! Have a seat, we can try to catch up.”

“Thank you sir.” I said. Noticing his rank was equivalent to my commanding officer.

I sat in a chair in front of his desk, sitting up straight.

“Seeing you in the field was a surprise. But I guess the circumstances brought us both on the scene unexpectedly. How did it work out for your units?” I asked remembering he was not in utility dress (fatigues). The grass was really tall where we landed.

“The Marine private, trainee, had drowned, so we managed to transfer his remains to his parents. You also had an emergency on your aircraft, I was told.”

“Yes sir, my seatbelt buckle was pressed hard on an electrical bundle near the hatch where I was trying to hoist the body up and in, so the power failed—and I was stuck—unable to pull him in, I just held on.”

“Sounds exciting, what happened then.”

“The pilots gracefully realized the anomaly was’t affecting the flight operation, so we landed at the nearest clearing that appeared to be a central rally point. The medics came up and got the body. I was concerned for them, but they knew to approach from the front. We lost a maintenance chief to a blade strike. He was holding the tracking flag, a gust of wind threw the flag and his shoulder into the blade.”

“Too bad! That was very unfortunate.”

“Yes sir, and I was honored the Kaman Aircraft Corporation honor scroll award, for some kind of heroism. But I was not risking anything, wearing a safety belt. Such an accident is part of my training. I should have been reprimanded for kneeling on the buckle that caused the shortage.”

“No, you are given such a commendation for doing your job to the best of your ability. Your squadron was pleased how you performed in a tight spot. Did you not get a meritorious mast? (Naval award)

28


“Well, okay, yes sir, the whole unit was called to attention just to commend my duty as well done . . .

“Oh! I have to share my conversion and becoming a Baptist Christian with you. I was baptized on Mother’s Day!” I said excitedly.

“Now that is good news! How does that happen over here, Zeke?” Richard said leaning forward.

“To make a long story short, a sergeant asked for someone to play golf with him, for our Wednesday afternoon recreation. I volunteered, we played 18 holes at Kadena Air Base, then we went to his church just off post, to their fellowship potluck supper. Wow, all American families. I was introduced to a deacon who might ride me back to my squad bay, and he showed me bible verses, and how to pray.”

“You were set up, Zeke!” The chaplain said leaning back in his chair, smiling, and reaching for a pamphlet.

“Yes sir, I get that, but it was made real to me, like that I have never known. Everybody can learn about God through other ways, I suppose, but only four passages, and I was convinced to willingly pray to receive Jesus as my personal savior. The Roman Road, you must know the verses even, right?” I said.

“Of course, but we don’t have churches out here, let me show you briefly what we Presbyterians use.”

Richard handed me a pamphlet to read. I received it and held it in my hand.

“Yes thanks, I remember, you went to the San Francisco Presbyterian Theological Seminary there in my back yard.” I said.

“Yes, I remember your dad brought you as a child to our community fair, when I was there.”

“Yes sir, we lived two blocks away on Grove Lane—I could hear the chimes and see the castle-like building from my bedroom window.”

“Then you should value the evangelism work we do.”

“It was thoughts of my mother who influenced me to go ahead and pray with the deacon.”

“That’s good. How is your mother, Zeke?”

29


“She’s in heaven, sir, almost seven years ago, she had her liver go bad due to her addiction to wine.”

“Sorry to hear that, Zeke; but, by her then, you have turned out okay.”

“I guess that’s why I’m here, to bring you respects from my father — in the love of my mother.”

“Ha! That sounds like your dad. How is he doing?”

“He’s having good times working. He wrote me about an assignment to sit on an advisory board at the state capitol, where new seismic building-codes need to be developed for insurance purposes . . . You have a brother, Art, how is he?”

“He is well, and working with students at the university (of California).”

“And how about Dick Hacke, our camp director, are you hearing from him or his son, Danny?”

“Yes, Danny is deep into underground engineering projects; and Dick is going strong.”

“Glad to hear that, Richard. When you see them, tell them I asked about them, please. I missed the old Scouting days. It meant a lot to me personally to have been a Boy Scout. I am proud to have known you and your brother. I am most impressed with your support here.” I said sheepishly.

“Thanks for that, and for stopping by, Zeke. You are always welcome, when I’m not in the field.” Richard said offering his hand. “Shall we pray?”

“Yes sir.” I said and we stood up and bowed while the chaplain voiced the words:

“Father, we thank you for your presence in this fine young man, Zeke. Bless him with safety and your security here while he serves out his tour. Give him your wisdom and knowledge to grow in grace. And may he pray for his family and friends daily. . .”

“And together we both serve safely here for our country.” I said.

“In Jesus’ name, amen.” We both said .

We shook hands, and I left thinking how it was worth the trip, and I have something to read riding a bus back to base. . .

30


As I rode the 15 miles on a local bus back to base, I read about the Presbyterian Gospel teaching.(17)

This wonderful, joyous message that Jesus is King and Jesus is Savior must be responded to somehow. You will either believe these things about Jesus, or you will not. And if you believe, you will raise your open hands to God, letting go of your rebellion against Him, and call upon his name, and He will save you. Ask yourself, “Am I ready to surrender to Jesus, who is God, as my King? Am I ready to trust in Christ alone to forgive and cleanse me, that I might be with God forever?” If you are, tell Him. He’s listening, right now.”

“If you need Jesus as King to guide and protect you each day, and if you sin every day and need fresh cleansing from a Savior who loves you, then you need the gospel everyday. If you have surrendered to Jesus as King, and trusted Jesus alone as Savior, what are 5 ways to help cultivate this devotion to Jesus?”(17)

The remainder of my tour was routinely uneventful. Daily preflight inspections, and weekly midweek and Sunday church began my new life in Christ.

CHAPTER FOUR – How I left California

MEANWHILE BACK TO CALIFORNIA, LYLE HENSEN, SEARCH FOR CHURCH, SOME SCHOOLING, AND PASTOR BOB COOK . . .

I rotated home to California and the Marine helicopter base at Santa Ana called LTA or Lighter than Air. I took a 30-day leave. This was when Dad remarried.

Alice Baumgarten was a divorced Catholic, meaning she was excommunicated, Catholics cannot divorce. Their wedding was officiated by Dad’s cousin, and my uncle Dick Sims, who was a local appellate court justice—very qualified to marry them. I was their uniformed bar tender. I served the drinks. All in fun.

Alice was a legal clerk in a law office. How they met was at a party thrown by someone of Dad’s many friends and associates in San Francisco. Dad was very good with names. He kept up with many so much so that they got a pile of Christmas cards every year.

When at their apartment while they traveled, I wanted to go to a good Baptist Church. So I visited the Hamilton Square Baptist Church on Franklin St. just five blocks away from the honeymooner’s apartment on Gough St. (pronounced goff). I went forward thinking home church?, but never returned anyway.

The new assignment at LTA was interesting. The facility revolved around two huge blimp hangers—giant structures where all squadrons of helicopters were housed. Lighter Than Air is the only way official military can designate a blimp hanger.

Helicopters there in 1962 were different from past training and duty. The UH-34 helicopter was much larger and designated as utility but capable to carry a 12-man combat-infantry squad. As an experienced crewchief, the larger aircraft meant passengers to be responsible for. That will take some more getting used to.

31


I remember two important events that I highly value still. One is the Christian Servicemen’s Center downtown Santa Ana, and the other is meeting and getting acquainted with Lyle Hensen when he was a lance corporal. We were both still wet behind the ears. But we attended chapel together as a team.

I met him one day in the mess hall, I sat at a table with him for lunch, and bowed my head to thank God. He came alive about that—started sharing his faith. God was introducing me to someone whom I actually know on Facebook today. He is a senior highway patrolman, about to retire himself.

The servicemen’s center was an off-post-place I spent some quality time. John and Fern Kulisich were there to run the place. Coffee, soda, snacks were available. John was a gifted teacher, Fern was open to showing hospitality . . . Their home was also a rally point. I did a bible-story story painting for them.

It was here that my three-year, initial tour was to end, although I was asked to reenlist, there wasn’t the opportunities I wanted, such as rigger school: denied because of not having depth perception. Also, officer school denied for less than 20/20 vision. I could easily leave military service for college. And, my squad leader was just promoted to E-6 Staff Sergeant, but it took him twelve years as an E-5. Somehow that fact discouraged me — not something I felt was worth pursuing. Cuban Missile Crisis occurred then.

When I got processed out, I returned to San Francisco, to stay at Dad and Alice’s apartment for a week to line up my next steps: It was July 1962, I needed to apply for college. I remember looking up the top art school on the west coast, called them, and had them send an application. I mailed it ASAP.

So a year at the Art Center school showed me a career that was as demanding as the military. Two things showed me God was not favoring me there, my grades were average, and when I visited a Baptist Church in Hollywood, the pastor embarrassed himself forgetting his own son in line for baptism.

The year at the Art Center was challenging. In other words, the assignments were given to all the class to produce each student’s expression of the objective model. I was often amazed at the wide variety of results. I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to work that hard. Failing Economics because I crammed all night to finish a design presentation, and when handed the test I fell into stupor-sleep sitting up. Before I started to take the test, the hour sped by. I was shocked, but that was a sure indicator.

After two semesters of the professional art classes, I was ready to wake up and smell the rosy truth.

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SEARCH FOR CHURCH

Another Baptist Church visited and rejected. But was it God or was it me? Had I been raised Catholic, my conscience would have been formed and I would have heard. Basically, I fell into sin in my second semester as I worked part time as busboy in the residence dining hall. I was asked for a date by a single young business woman visiting a work associate, she was a secretary, and attractive but handicapped.

It may because of my grades dropping, but my mind was not where it should be. In the military, young men overseas easily sought prostitutes. I fell into that trap. And I paid the price spiritually. Not being raised Catholic, I had no idea how original sin caused immorality and mortal sin. Going on from there, I applied to work at a summer job with the Forestry Service. That assignment was a good opportunity.

This time, I got assigned to Tahoe National Forest Ranger Station at Soda Springs. That was also a blessing because it occupied the Chubb Lake area where I spent summers as a boy. The job was common labor doing trail maintenance. It paid well enough I might return to college. But college was now trade school—I had to change majors to accomplish something more, like even a licensed Aircraft Mechanic.

An application was sent to Northrop Institute of Technology before reporting to the ranger. I thought about 2 minutes on what major to study and came up with. They offered a certificate (license) for Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) Mechanic. My military specialty helped me get state tuition payments.

Summer of ’63 was definitely different. Ten day pack trips maintaining trails — I had hiked through the wilderness as a Boy Scout a decade earlier. Four days off between trips meant opportunities to go places, like Sacramento for a dentist appointment, or. . .

The lady from LA travelled to meet me and we picnicked together for her vacation. I was in pig-heaven. Mortal sin was happening, and as a young Baptist, it never occurred to me. I was free to let it happen, and flesh had its way. I was in no position to think marriage, nor was she. We just wanted sex.

She was able to afford the hotel room up the highway from the ranger station, and I dined with her at the restaurant. It’s unusual to yield to an older woman, but like she was very tactful and knew how to tell her desire: I was the fish and trapped into her net. Not justification — but ignorance of how evil works.

Her handicap was her knees were not able to bend. She could only get around with crutch-like supports. I think I thought differently about her — willing to help her. She would not relate with her usual friends, nor could she socially relate with work associates. I was special to her only because I liked her.

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Her vacation was over too quickly. I gave her the Forestry Service tour, the station, the café, and the trail among the pines, her hotel room, and restaurant. I think she was happy to have come to visit me. I think I wrote her once. Then she was gone. Life was better for her in the big city. We never met again.

When finally accepted at Northrop, the class was to begin November. So I explained this to the ranger, and he suggested transferring me to the engineering department at Nevada City to work as an aid for the weeks remaining before snow began to fall. Surveying for access roads for timber cutting was good.

I enjoyed the peaceful month’s stay there. I learned something about surveying, and forestry. Not having pursued that career at Humboldt State was of no consequence. I was happy with the new opportunity for getting qualified as aircraft mechanic. Nevada City was friendly place to visit.

My stay there was resting in a historic hotel nights, and traipsing through the virgin pine trees by day. It was tiring work, but they served good draught beer at the restaurant, so my social connection was still blossoming an awareness of self-worth and a church visit happened in their historic setting.

This meant a nice preparation for a new beginning — a valuable course on quality aircraft maintenance, and showed me a completion of what I was trained in the military — that alone could not satisfy the much broader skill requirement of civil occupations. But it helped land a job close to home.

SOME SCHOOLING, CHURCH SERVICE, MIRACLE MOVIE

When there, living in the city of Inglewood, located south of Los Angeles — north of Long Beach, I want to remember two events that helped heal me from recent hanky-panky activities, and line me up for being delivered from struggles with flesh and evil influences: I became active in the First Baptist Church!

By that, I mean they trusted me to teach Sunday School to 6-grade boys. I could do such a thing, with excellence. I did that for a year. I came away feeling like I made a small contribution . . . The other thing that blessed my socks off was one Saturday night after studying the Sunday School lesson, I heard in my heart to go to a movie.

This was not any movie, this was a showing at the Hollywood Universal Theater showing The Greatest Story Ever Told!

How I knew to go was a curious chain of events. Like I knew the bus route was just a block away. A bus travels from Century Boulevard where I was, north to a street a block from the theater. All I had to do was go — all by myself. It was exhilarating because I had never gone there, and the showing time was all sold out, I was told, but wait.

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My patience captured my heart, when I was called and a single cancellation did come in. It was, and get this, the first row of the balcony, and a center seat — a perfect viewing placement! Like the movie was showing just for me! A miracle, I thought. Anyway, that movie experience totally enraptured me.

I travelled a hundred blocks on a local Los Angeles City bus enroute to miraculously see a first run showing of a Hollywood production! I was blessed so that I felt God was treating me with a reward and was demonstrating what living for him can be like. I was definitely touched: A miracle moment.

Graduating from Northrop Institute of Technology, took a month longer because, I failed two classes that were worth taking over. Electrical, and Hydraulics brought me to the 14 month course completion. I came away with hands-on training and confidence my notes were reliable: San Francisco here I come!

Assigned as helicopter mechanic with SF-O Helicopter Airlines, I started driving the fuel truck. A worthy job that required removing and replacing radio and radar equipment as written-up. I was vastly experienced and knew what I was doing. I was blessed for two reasons, the first was Aunt Dale Sims.

I was given the privilege of flying as a steward-crewchief from San Francisco to Oakland International Airport. One of the passengers was Aunt Dale, mother of my cousin Rick. She was well acquainted with me, as we were family, yet second cousin once removed. She was a true lady, and privilege to help support her transportation needs.

The second was my apartment was located two miles from the airport. I located it just blocks from the Burlingame Baptist Church. This church I had no problem joining. It was most convenient, and was truly where my heart was. There was only one problem. They had no pastor. So visiting preachers came to apply. That’s how I met Bob Cook. (It was also close to the big city where Dad an Alice lived and worked.)

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PASTOR BOB COOK

BOB COOK was 50 years old when he traveled to Burlingame California from Phoenix Arizona where he left his wife who could not leave her job as a house keeping associate at the international airport. Bob had pastored six Southern Baptist Churches in Elmore County, Elmore, Alabama; and attended the Southwestern Southern Baptist Seminary, to earn his masters degree in theology.

Pastor Bob loved to preach. And his preaching pierced my soul! I loved to hear him do his fire and brimstone shouting. He made me sit up straight for hearing his bold and courageous delivery. He met me and asked about my situation.

“Well Pastor Bob, I just graduated from A&P mechanic school and got a good job at the airport.” I said.

“Where do you sleep?” He asked squinting his eyes.

“I have an apartment a few blocks from here. I live alone. My parents have an apartment in the city.” I said thinking how he came from Phoenix alone. “Do you have a place to stay yet?”

“Not yet. Have lunch with me, Chuck. Maybe we can work something out.”

“Good. Thanks Pastor.”

We left the church walking toward my place, and stopped to shop for lunch at a local grocery.

“Let me take this.” Bob said handing cash to the clerk.

“Thank you sir. Are you new in town?”

“Yes sir, I am interim pastor at the Baptist church.” Bob said smiling and pointing.

Bob was a very open and personable man. He was always ready to give a good answer

to anyone who asks anything of him, especially of the faith.

“Oh, that’s nice sir. Welcome to Burlingame.”

“Thanks, I am looking forward to moving here.”

“Oh, that’s fine. Where are you from?”

“Phoenix.” Bob said smiling and eager to tell about his God.

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“Now there’s a good place to be from.” The grocer said being polite.

“We grew up in Alabama, Elmore County, Elmore Alabama, where you can find Southern Dandies—but we don’t know what ‘dandy’ means.” Bob said with a lyrical note. “It’s two clicks from Montgomery, northwest.” He said smiling as our food was bagged.

“Glad to meet you sir.” Bob said politely, realizing he said too much.

We left the store and I led him to my place a short distance away.

“Here we are.” I said as we entered. “The kitchen is this way. Make yourself at home” I said trying to be hospitable.

“Thank you.” Bob said as he put the food down on the table, and went to the sink to wash his hands.

I sat down to arrange the food, and Bob sat and said a prayer.

“Bless O Lord this good food, we praise you for your peace, in Jesus’ name, amen.” Bob said.

“Thanks Brother Bob, I feel privileged to have you in my home.” I said before taking a bite after he did.

That’s good, Chuck. You have a nice place here.” He said looking around.

It was a small one bedroom that had comfortable furniture. The bedroom had twin beds which Bob noticed. And, oh, wall hangings were throughout..

“I really like your apartment, Chuck. What do you say for me to live here with you?” Bob said popping the question.

“It really is practical. A little cramped, but you can afford it, here.” I said.

“I will pay you half your rent, as soon as I get some pay.” He said.

“That sounds good, Pastor.”

I shook his hand, and realized my new pastor was my new roommate.

The significance of this miraculous happenstance was more than I realized at first. I liked Bob. Brother Bob was God’s man come to rescue me from California. This is the way such a wondrous objective unfolded: Pastor Bob needed to reorganize the church, and get it on it’s feet and out of debt.

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The building was recently renovated with expensive pine paneling. It was beautifully done; but, the cost was well above agreed contract prices. I believed Pastor Bob would do the job to teach what needed to be taught, and preach what needed to be preached Burlingame Baptist Church to become economically solvent.

However, he got me interested in the Training Union program, and wanted me to be the director. Wow, I thought it could happen with a little help from God. I wore my best sports coat, and because of my experience as Sunday School teacher of 6th grade boys, I knew something about Southern Baptist material. I was just a pretty face in the right place and the right time. And over four-months, we grew.

Pastor Bob was big with visiting folks. He and I went door to door even. Telling people about church, God’s word, and poems that were fun to hear and inspirational. We had fellowship that brought families together. That was fun, but something happened that damaged Bob’s reputation.

He was seen crawling on the floor playing with the children. That embarrassed parents, and members of the board. The church leaders who voted to accept him as temporary pastor, was now changing their minds. So, the church business meeting voted to reject him as pastor. A political maneuver beyond me — they refused to hear me speak.

One of the most memorable events I shared with Pastor Bob, was that he had bought a used bicycle and rode with me every morning all the way out to the airport where I worked. He taught me how to sing his favorite song:

“In the morning when I awake, Sweet Marie! Seems my heart will break, love for thee; Oh the stars up in the sky, they all stop and wonder why, they are dimmer than your eye. Sweet Marie!”

“Sweet Marie, love for thee — not because your face is fair — love to see, but because you’re pure and sweet makes my happiness complete! I will falter at your feet, sweet Marie . . .”

We sang together as we rode bicycles along the back road along the bayshore, that led us to the large airport — every day.

Because I was becoming a biblical teacher, I shopped for and found a popular bible, called the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. That began my fascination with learning what the Bible does say. There visual charts — charts that appealed to my mechanical mind. (I took this bible with me when I traveled globally.)

Brother Bob and I rode our bikes together to my job singing at the top of our lungs for months, so that I grew to love him as a brother. We talked too, and he was a wealth of biblical knowledge. I remember asking him, ‘What determines the interpretation of pre-millenialism?’ He said, “It depends on the seminary you go to.” That I’ve remembered, and accepted as true and helped me discern Catholicism.

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One day while at work, I began to think how my Pastor-roommate was fired and he will be leaving to go home. How could I, having befriended him in godly fellowship, let him go? Probably a stupid question, but the man was like a father to me. His coming all the way from Phoenix, for me, was preposterous.

But, that is what happened and history has proven. He asked me to go with him. To go with him, I needed to quit my job. The job that was working out, but I was still on probation. I could leave without any negative repercussions. I just needed to call Dad and Alice. They didn’t understand, but accepted it.

We had little to pack, although, I was given family heirlooms to keep. My grandfather’s shotgun, a 12 gauge Damascus barrel, his model 1878 Winchester rifle, and a large horn made of a bull horn and bugle mouthpiece. I noticed they were missing on our departure.

“Hey Bob, where are my guns?” I said feeling a sense of loss.

“I took them to a flee-market and sold them.” He said, looking straight at me, as in confession.

“You didn’t!” I exclaimed. “Those were family heirlooms. My sister’s sons might like them.”

“I used the cash to buy this Ford station-wagon to get us to Phoenix, and I bought tickets for the Training Union Convention at Glorietta, New Mexico, that is a big event, you won’t regret, Chuck, I promise you. Also, I shipped your trunk with your horn wrapped up with some clothes. You can get it in Phoenix.”

Bob was standing still to tell me of his preparation to leave our place in Burlingame.

“Is there any thing else?” I asked helplessly since I was flabbergasted as still trying to assess our brotherly status.

Then I heard my conscience tell me:

Don’t judge your deliverer for obediently taking steps to provide your exodus by literally taking God’s teaching to heart: You are his mission now.’ My heart said.

From that point on, I began to understand how God can change things in my life, but I have to yield for it to happen — and I realized Brother Bob was far more devoted to God than I was. I needed to learn from his spirit. So, our relationship stepped up to the next level.

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Oh yes, I almost forgot; Bob and I had to travel to the hospital where Barbs had given birth to her second son, Robert. I was pleased to see her, totally ignorant of her delivery details — and she was not happy to see us. We cut our visit short and said a bible text and a prayer for her at her bedside.

She was fit to be tied! She looked around frantically for something to throw at us, picked up the empty urinal, and cocked her arm ready to throw. When we both said amen, and left her alone.

“What’s with her?” Bob asked as we squeezed through the exit.

“She is not saved yet.” I said.

“The word I shared was anointed. . . “

“Yes sir. But her heart is hardened. Also, she does not like being a captive audience; she likes being hospitable on her own terms.” I said.

“I guess you understand better than I do. I thought you said that she led you by hand to the churches you visited as children?”

“That’s right, Bob; but she’s more worldly as a married adult now.” I said, and he nodded.

Our trip to Phoenix was a real miracle. The car needed maintenance badly. Oh, it had only an oil leak, but it leaked oil at the same rate as the engine burned gasoline. Okay, then we got a case of oil, and we had to have gallons of water. As we drove along, we sang our song — loudly!

But even as a mechanic, I think I prayed more than I calculated when to service the gas, oil, or water: If the engine was overheating, then we stopped and serviced one or the other. Sadly, we modified our hopeful plans, by behaving more wisely to junk the car, and travel more dependably by bus.

Honestly, I had no idea what was coming for me. When I made a decision to trust Brother Bob, and events began to unfold positively that opened my new possibility future.

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PART II – Marriage (and Divorce) to Helen and Children

Chapter FIVE How God showed me to Helen

HAVING LEFT CALIFORNIA – NEW CHURCH RECEPTION – HOW WE WERE BROUGHT TOGETHER – HOW WE FELL APART – EMOTIONAL CRASH AND ESCAPE – MEETING LYLE – REPORTING TO OLD UNIT

HAVING LEFT CALIFORNIA

When Brother Bob and I arrived at Glorietta, New Mexico, it was like discovering a place and a people that were there to help make my future all over again — forgetting the past, and turning to Christ and the Southern Baptist Convention, to rebuild me into the youth pastor that they needed in Texas!

Brother Bob introduced me to Sarah Hall, a woman from one of his six former pastored churches in Alabama, and her family, that he just happened to run into. They were pastors at a well established church in Hurst, Texas. It was so personally impressive to him that he could not help but tell them about how I helped him to reorganize and lead the Burlingame Baptist Church (though they rejected him).

I had become enthralled by the whole Training Union Convention program. I had been a training Union director for less than four months. I was spiritually impressed with the mountain retreat center: An absolutely gorgeous location that was reminiscent of my Boy Scout Chubb Lake Camp, and Reno.

It was as quick as a 24 hour period, while Brother Bob and I were settled into our accommodation, that when we were going to a scheduled presentation, that we bumped into the Hall family. They were all sitting at a table, and called us over, to speak with them. Pastor Darrell Hall greeted me.

Chuck, we are impressed with you and your helping Brother Bob in his Burlingame assignment. We need you in our youth program even as youth pastor with our church in Hurst Texas, and I am sure you will fit in. We are located just down the street from the large Bell Helicopter Manufacturing Plant.”

Pastor Darrell Hall said all the right stuff, but Youth Pastor? Me? Sounded way over my religious pay grade. But realistically, I would be not permanent, until qualified, by training. Which was a subject touched upon by a group of students who told me about their college during a devotional one morning.

We finished the week of wonderful family events, devotionals, presentations, skits, motivational talks through which God was fully engaged. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, and the air at the mountain elevation was most refreshing. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. My prayers were inspiring to me — mountain top stuff!

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Bob and I caught the bus back to Phoenix where we parted. He was happy to be home with his wife, and I stayed with them for a week. My prayer-times were special, but I heard nothing about going to Texas, so, putting that week as an investment, and all of Brother Bob’s efforts, my mind was convinced to go.

Brother Bob called Pastor Darrell and arranged for me to take the bus to Fort Worth, and call him upon my arrival. Brother Bob got me on the bus. He said goodbye, and I was gone. Bless his heart. I was with God, heading out to my new life, and he was home, and helped me leave right on time.

From Phoenix to Fort Worth by bus is a whole day of traveling. I arrived late afternoon, and made the call to Pastor Darrell. He was pleased with the timing, and told me the music minister would pick me up. It was already dark when music pastor met me. He took me to the Hall home for a bite and to change.

NEW CHURCH RECEPTION

It was awkward for me not being an experienced traveler. I had to borrow a shirt to wear, but had such dirty socks, and embarrassed, decided to not wear socks. I think I did take a shower, because I had no thought about personal odor because of the excitement. Telling my testimony was a true success!

When the service ended, I was to stand at the front to enable a timely and orderly reception. I was automatically become a member. People lined up to tell me they welcomed me to their fellowship. (Nobody said they noticed how my socks were missing.) This was God showing me He was there.

One gentleman offered to sell me his old car for a hundred dollars, whenever I could pay him. It was a ’54 Dodge in good running order.

Then a lady offered me a room to rent in her house for a low monthly amount, and the Sunday School superintendent offered me a job in his hydraulic shop at LTV. (Ling Tempco Vought Aerospace Corp)

Wow! What a wonderful welcome! In no time, I was settled in. My first attempt to find a job however, was to apply at Bell Helicopter, because of my experience, I thought I had a shoe in. It was a good interview, but I was’t called. Later, at church, I met a foreman there who said I was black-balled.

You were black-balled because you said you were a union member, the Transportation Workers Union of America (TWU). And you did not know how Bell is not a union shop. They canned your application, because of an attitude of loyalty — you expressed affection for your union, that they have to reject.”

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I learned this after having worked for months with LTV, our Sunday School superintendent, Turney Sloan. You see, that was given to me within God’s favor. Coming to Texas the way I did, almost demands my cooperation with God’s grace! There was no loss in supporting me.

The leading of such grace involved me in two things—in addition to serving as youth pastor. First, I wasn’t qualified, so I signed up for part-time college with the Dallas Baptist College and majored in Religion. My thinking was to follow God’s plan . . . The other, was to serve in ministry off campus. (dbu.edu)

College for me was a flop. I took English Composition, as a requirement, and failed the course, I retook that course and failed it again. Plus my living in the dorm was a mistake since I disobeyed the dorm rules by watching TV past curfew. The dorm sponsor was my English professor, who kicked me out. I left his office in tears. (God’s grace again.)

Helen Louise Ernst Bundschu as a faithful young mother

THE WAY WE WERE BROUGHT TOGETHER

The third activity, was getting to know my former wife, since she was in the choir when I first came, and she asked a friend to help her meet me through a double date. That was different for me, but a good wholesome social plan. That was when the Billy Graham Evangelism Association came to Dallas. (billygraham.org)

I volunteered to go to the counselor training in advance of the movie showing for several weeks. It happened that Helen also volunteered, and so we went together. I was her youth pastor and she was still in high school. We got to be fast friends. And I got to know her parents.

This is when romance began to happen. My prayer time was developed enough to go ahead with a positive plan for proposing to Helen, but it had to be with God’s leadership. We had grown friendly in the movie ministry, so before I failed in College, I heard to take her on a picnic at the botanic garden. The timing was perfect, we sat under a dogwood tree that bloomed as I popped the question.

Helen, will you marry me?” And, “Yes”! she said. So, we kissed for the first time.

This happened in the Spring of 1967, as I was serving as youth pastor at the First Baptist Church in Hurst; teaching a Sunday School class at the nursing home in downtown Dallas; attending college part-time; working full-time as aircraft hydraulic technician; and training as counselor for Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Film, Restless Ones (Ip.billygraham.org).

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I offered to get her a ring on the spot. She agreed to shop downtown Ft. Worth at a large jeweler. We found a beautifully mounted ¼ carret diamond that she wanted. Because I had a good job and could identify myself, getting the ring on good credit was too easy. I would ask her dad first before giving it to her.

It was Sunday morning before my teaching Sunday School class, that I stopped by her house. I walked into their garage and asked to speak with her father.

“Yes Brother Chuck, what can I help you with?” Said Brother Bill Ernst, Helen’s dad, looking half dressed with an untied tie around his shoulders. He was about ten years older than I was.

“I have asked your daughter to marry me, and I need to ask — is this agreeable with you?” I said nervously.

And what did she say, Chuck?

Of course she said yes, and we picked up her engagement ring.” I said showing it to him.

Oh, that’s nice, son. Have you made any other plans yet?”

No sir. We are taking one small step at a time.”

Good answer. Her mother and I are pleased with you, and want to grant our permission for you to become a member of our family.” Brother Bill said extending his hand.

I took his hand and apologized as I was late for my drive to downtown Dallas, and left in a hurry.

When I got to my ministerial alliance assignment in Dallas, I was probably too proud of myself and with the Bible lesson, just had to share how my beloved has consented to be my bride. All of the seniors were happy to hear the good news.

HOW WE FELL APART

Not long after she got her ring, and graduated, she was job hunting for the summer. To do that, she said she told her dad, that she needed a car. And not to be unwilling, he signed for her loan, and she got her car. When I heard about that, I was very upset. For her debt we had not discussed, and for her independence.

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I could not agree with her thinking — she was only 18. And I was immature enough not to reason through her thoughts. She needed to at least discuss it with me. I was hurt that she had not discussed it with me. I could not accept that she did this with her dad.

Helen, I cannot see through this development: I want to show my disappointment by giving you an ultimatum.”

Oh, how’s that, Chuck?” She said smartly. “A choice of what, you or the car?”

Right! You choose.” I said not even thinking. But it was how I felt.

She took her ring off and handed it to me without hesitation.

We parted as gracefully as I can remember without strife and no goodbyes. But I was flabbergasted. I got out, and she drove off.

(I destroyed the ring, only to have it repaired and returned it to the jeweler . . . Eventually.)

EMOTIONAL CRASH AND ESCAPE

From there, my emotions crumpled. I immediately dropped classes, and made an appointment to see the recruiter and signed up for a tour with the Foreign Legion, wherever the US Marines might want to use me, with my experience on helicopters.

I called the pastor and told him of my situation. He said he understood, and said this happens to the best of us. His prayer was encouraging, even though I thought God was trashing me, he said that it is just a new assignment. An assignment to help me grow.

That, I was sure of. I terminated at my job in the hydraulic shop, and apologized to Mr Sloan. He said the same thing the pastor said, but added, “Personnel will tell you how you can come back, because of the war effort, you will be welcome!

I purchased a newer-used car, a green ’65 VW beetle, from a pastor of a rural church who was interested in my testimony. So just before leaving for California under orders, I was graciously received to preach a Sunday service. And I went away with their fresh prayers.

My orders said to report to the same duty station that I had been serving with four years before, so I had no problems getting on board, although my uniform was lacking. I stood in line at the supply warehouse to again get a recruit issue. My rank was Lance Corporal (E-3).

I processed in and went to the messhall (dining facility) for lunch.

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MEETING LYLE AGAIN

“Hey Marine, mind if I join you?” I said asking a lone Marine sitting at a table for four.

Not at all, Lance Corporal, please do.”

I sat down across from him, “Hello, I’m Chuck Bundschu.”

I’m Lyle Hensen, you remember me.” He said chewing on a bite of food.

I was fresh from a Baptist College cafeteria and used to praying before meals, so I bowed my head. And before I began eating, I took just a few moments to express thankfulness to God. Lyle noticed and responded positively. (I did not remember him.)

Hey Chuck, I see you’re a believer too, great!” Lyle said as he put down his fork.

I just dropped out of Baptist college, after my fiance broke up with me.” I said.

Welcome to the foreign legion!” He said.

“Thanks Lyle, but I am right back here where we was four years ago.”

“Then . . . I guess you were a corporal — Then why did you get out?” Lyle said scratching his head.

Good question, Lyle. Oh, I wanted Officer Candidate School (OCS), but couldn’t qualify due to my defective vision with 20-30; and so I asked for rigger school, but couldn’t qualify because of not having depth perception.” I said while forking a helping of potatoes, that smelled good.

So, you went back to school, what school was that?”

Let’s see, The Art Center School in L.A., Northrop Institute of Technology, and Dallas Baptist College — of which I finished only the A&P course at Northrop.”

“Good for you, at least you got something under your belt.”

Thanks.” I said, and began to eat off my tray like a hungry man. I began to think how a Marine can worship here. I went to chapel services before, even with Lyle — I remembered.

How about you Lyle?”

“I signed up right out of high school, and went to mos Aviation Fundamental training to qualify for my job here as helicopter mechanic with HMH 462 and don’t want to go anywhere else. For the time being, getting a handle on a flying boxcar is a big job!”

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“I sure agree! What do you do for church?”

“I am still pleased with the chapel program here. It’s not fancy, but I like the chaplain. Would you like to go with me on Sunday?

“I sure would. Thanks Lyle.”

Our acquaintance was short but sweet; the food was good, and the prospects of serving God here was looking up — I have to give God the credit for every detail.

Have you reported for duty yet?”

“No, I will next, because I just got my uniform. The UH-34D’s look interesting, and almost a similar configuration to those H-19’s we trained on.” I said thinking when to see Lyle again.

“Oh, let me invite you to the Christian Servicemen’s Center tonight, are you free for that?

“So far as I know, not being on the duty roster yet. Where can we meet?”

“My car is the green VW-bug, at the building, on the west-side of the quad, (west building) you can’t miss it.”

Great, see you at nineteen hundred (7PM).”

REPORTING TO MY OLD MARINE UNIT

We parted and I was encouraged to have already made a friend. Thanks to God. I did not know how to drive around, so I walked to the hanger. These blimp hangers are a real historic marvel in aviation history. Built in the 30’s to house the giant Navy blimps.

Reporting as ordered sir!” I said to the first sergeant.

At ease, Lance corporal! Let me be your welcome committee and give you some personal assurance that you, with your helicopter experience, will be a valued member with us.” The first Sergeant said sitting at his desk, and made me think he has a college degree.

Thank you sir. I will do my best to deserve your respect.” I said sincerely.

Good word son, I will put you on the promotion list today!” He said with a crooked smile. “I am assigning you to the crewchief with the least experience. I think your attitude will help him to get back on his promotion list.”

“Am I acquainted with him First asergeant?” I asked this because I remembered serving an E-5 Sergeant crewchief even four-years before.

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Hey runner, go get Sergeant Cortley, tell him I need him to come get his new crewman, ASAP!” First Sergeant Brown said to a private in his outer office. (Yes, I knew him.)

Aye-aye sir! The private said as he left by the office door that led into the huge hanger.

Standby son. I don’t know if you knew him. Your crew chief should be here in ten minutes.”

I acknowledged his direction, and rested in place. (My favorite command, meaning I could move my left foot, unbrace my arms and relax.) And he turned to his files.

My mind was trying to remember being here in ’62, even during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was a while, but was certainly familiar. It felt almost like home.

UH-34D Seahorse by Sikorski Aircraft as I served in 1962, Wikipedia.org

Sergeant Cortney reported smartly, and I think he recognized me. The first Sergeant dismissed us both, and we walked out to the flight line.

“So, Chuck, nice to see you again. What have you been doing? Sergeant Cortley asked.

Oh, I tried my hand at higher education, got engaged, and failed at both.” I said.

Then you did learn something!” He said as we reached the flight line.

I learned what not to do in a spirit of love.” I said smilingly, to peak his curiosity.

Okay Chuck, fill me in on your more recent helicopter experience.”

I drove the fuel truck to refuel the S-61 type commercial model, with SF-O Helicopter Airlines, basically, for four months, and was able to act as steward on a few flights when transporting electronic boxes from the east hanger — between main airports.”

Good show lance corporal, I’m recommending you for promotion.” He said smiling.

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CHAPTER SIX – When we got promoted

MY GREEN VW WAS A TARGET – ORDERS TO RVN – ROCKET ATTACK – GO TO THE LIGHT – BAPTISM OF FIRE – VISITED IN THE HOSPITAL

I was personally grateful to God for this event in my military career. It made me realize real people do still serve in the Marines, and they are falible human beings. I had respect for my crew leader, even if I was the only crew member. And I say this because he was the same rank when I first met him in 1962.

Being with him, as his crew member to service and fly with his helicopter (aircraft), was our whole mission in life as Marines in HMM-362 (Helicopter Marine Medium squadron of the third marine air group-36, 3rd MAW (Wikipedia.org)

That duty soon became routine enough so that I forgot all about the past and Helen–and women in general. I was being trained to rotate with the next cadre assembled as replacements for the 1st Marine Air Wing in Vietnam. That kept me focused.

I was promoted to Corporal E-4 within three months because I knew the job and I kept my nose clean (kept out of bars, etc.). What I did do when off duty was find fellowship at the Christian Servicemen’s Center which was right downtown Santa Ana.

Pastor John Kulisich was the manager and was always happy to serve us at the bar there. “Soft drinks, coffee, tea, or me.” He’d always say. A minister, a family man, and a friend was John. His wife Fern was also there sometimes. Together they made a hit with me.

Getting acquainted with them, and becoming a member of regulars was with special privileges. To spend the night there in a bunk was about as special as it got. But other times, an invitation for a meal and fellowship at their home meant a lot too.

I did paint a small painting of a Bible story for them that they graciously received. The fellowship there was just a few men like Lyle Hensen, and another who left the Marines to become a deputy sheriff. And Lyle became a hiway patrolman.

MY GREEN VW BUG WAS A TARGET

One day I came out to go to work, and my car was smashed into. To see the rear of my bug, the whole engine cover-trunk was flattened. It broke the engine. Out of the clear blue, someone was insulted by my “Praise the Lord” on the rear window. It could be fixed, and I removed both the Texas plates and my religious slogan.

But on the very day I received orders overseas, and the morning that I said goodbye to the Serviceman’s Center, it was so foggy, I could not see the truck coming north, when going south and signalling to turn left–it looked clear–I turned into a head-on collision.

“BLAM-SWISH-SWISH-SWISH!”

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I had my seatbelt on, but the impact forced me into the bracket holding the visor, lifting the skin on my forehead back neatly, while my torso broke off the floor gear-shift. And my head was still spinning when I heard footsteps running and a voice. He took one look at my bleeding head, and told me to be still until he could get some help.

I thought I was going to heaven because of the shock.

Are you an angel?” I asked awkwardly. Because he was there so quickly.

No, but I believe in angels. You will be alright son, just don’t move, okay?”

I had no feeling, and my forehead was numb. I realized the impact sent me into a spin. I was leaning down to the passenger floor. Remaining still was a strain because of the seatbelt. What happened began to review in my mind . . .

I had spent the night alone at the servicemen’s center, I knew that. I was heading back to base to get my orders and sign out on leave, that much I was sure of. I was heading south on Main Street, signaling left in the left turn lane, and I hesitated, looking . . .

There were no oncoming headlights. I could see clearly on both sides of south Main Street, but the oncoming lane was not clear — it was obscured visually by a patch of ground fog. And it was quiet. It was a toss-up: all indicators say to go, with a minimum of risk. Yet when I slowly entered the intersection, POW! The truck grill was in my face!

The ambulance arrived, I was put on a gurney and rolled into slots in the back. My head was lightly covered with gause and lightly taped in place . . . just to get me to surgery. (Ambulance rides are good to get you right into a medical team ready to help!)

They identified me as a government employee and needed to report me to my unit. They approved the local hospital assessment, and approved the surgical suturing which was done very meticulously, making the result a virtual masterpiece, not even visible today.

The base medical team sent another ambulance to retrieve me from recovery, and off I was taken to needed re-evaluation; their reception was welcoming. At that point, I was concerned about car repair and heading home, so I was able to call Dad.

Hello Dad.”

“Hello son, What’s going on with you?” He said in that lovingly familiar voice.

This morning, I was involved in an accident; I’ve just been released from the medical facility here on post. I will go ahead and receive my orders and get on a bus to come home.” I said as casually as I could (the word is cool man).

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I’m glad you’re okay, son. Please fill me in on your injury.” He asked respectfully.

I got neatly gashed on my forehead, because the impact threw my head up onto the visor bracket, and then the seatbelt held me down onto the floor breaking off the gear shift.”

“Then, you got a plastic surgeon to do the repair?”

“Yes Dad, there was a whole team of them.”

“Good to hear son.”

“I really don’t know what to do about the car.”

“Don’t worry Zeke, I will call our agent there and have him find it and supervise the best price repair as he is aware of who does what best in the area.”

“Oh, praise God dad! You are a Godsend.”

“Well, okay. Can you describe the collision details?”

“I was turning left, returning to base, in the turn lane signalling, it was light, but there was ground fog covering the oncoming truck — it was a pale color without headlights. It was quiet. Like just as soon as I committed to turn into entering the intersection, suddenly it hit me.”

“Sounds good son. We will have to arbitrate that case, but it is as good as done. Are you coming up the coast, on the express run?”

“I will have to let you know when I find out.”

“Okay, tell me the car is not your ’54 Dodge.”

“No Dad. It is a green ’65 VW Beetle.”

“Fine, I got that. I think I can fly down there to pick it up for you.”

“Thank you Dad. I love you.” I said thinking how proud I am for God giving me such a capable father.

You’re welcome son. I love you too.”

Dad’s voice encouraged me. He was a resourceful person. I believe God gave me him for a really great dad. At the time of my need, he came through. He was a godly person, although he professed to be agnostic. My prayers for him was and is not in vain.

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ORDERS TO MARBLE MOUNTAIN AIR BASE, DANANG CITY, RVN – Republic of Vietnam

I can now admit to a benefit, as to the timing of such a mystery collision — when arriving in country, I was hand picked to be a flight line clerk for the NCOIC of the maintenance hanger operations, a master gunnery sergeant (E-9). So, I was promoted quickly to E-5.

Light duty? Well, my responsibility was to keep all of the aircraft manuals, that included flight operation, maintenance of all systems, and some regulations — including every current change, updating and notices of changes, etc.: All library documents available for use.

I felt privileged to be there, and pleased to help the Master Gunnery Seargent’s Maintenance Office stay current . . . two events happened while I was there: When the routine of the six-day workweek, and one day for the beach, a great beach was there.

ROCKET ATTACK

I had begun attending the chapel services and sang in the choir. This led me to begin a private prayer time in the dark, outside behind the hooch, under the tent-flap. When I had adjusted to that religious habit, when sound asleep in my elevated rack (bunk) . . .

Blaaammm!-Arrrrreeeiiiiiiiii!

A huge explosion and the siren — that shook our hooch (tent) with ear-popping volume, the shock rocked all of us back to reality from routine. I was close enough to the hatch (door) that opened outward, so that I dove headfirst over the last bunk aiming at the door.

It was totally dark, (the power generator was off). I missed the door, and my head boldly collided with the full water-can next to the door — where no head has gone before; and everyone ran out on their feet over me to jump out into the sand and enter the bunker.

I recovered with some conscious effort to crawl out and enter the bunker. The rocket attack was ongoing. Someone shined a flashlight in my direction. “You need first aid man!” Someone said. I took off my tee-shirt and held it over my left eye. “I’m fine thanks.”

After all the confusion, when the rockets stopped, word was passed around that the flight line was attacked, and for all injuries be taken to the sick bay. So I went to see the doctor, who gave me one stitch that could help my eyebrow heal. He told me only one Marine on guard duty got shrapnel in his foot, and would get the purple heart medal.

The other relatively memorable event there was about a vision I received. At lunchtime I walked to the messhall and was thinking about food, when I opened the hatch to the Quonset and stopped. I was led to look left and viewed the long row of hooches.

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My thoughts were, ‘What’s this? And I heard in my heart ‘You are able to invite hundreds of Marines to chapel — they need to be in chapel.’

It was over before I knew it. There was no one else around, and I didn’t give it much thought. Until I was in prayer that night, after eating two meals and having finished a day’s work in the office . . . and my soul reacted with much emotion to God.

“Dear Heavenly Father. I cannot see myself boldly going through the hooches where no chaplain has gone before. No way! And (even) hell no!” I said softly, and felt like this had spoiled my daily devotions. God is never pleased with my evoking hell into my world.

But that is just what I did. It wasn’t long, like two weeks, when I was asked to volunteer for gunner training. This is what every Marine office clerk would jump for. I did not even think before volunteering. For an hour every night, I was qualified on machine gun operations.

Then orders came for me to dress in flight gear and report to the flight line armory of the HMH 463rd (Barrell Bomber) Squadron to draw weapons and double time out on the flight line where the huge CH-53D was turning up, waiting for me (even) to take off.

I climbed up the (ladder) steps to enter the cargo hold, and was told to post my machine gun at the left hatch, behind the co-pilot. I was holding an M-60 machine gun and a box of ammo — with helmet and gloves already for combat. I put my gun in the mount.

In a matter of minutes we were lifting off and flying up the coast over the ocean east of Da Nang city. About 15 minutes out, I had hooked up my microphone and reported to the pilot. He said, “Welcome! We are on an artillery resupply mission to A Shau Valley.”

I acknowledged How I understood, and promised my compliance with all his orders.

We flew on to half way to our ammo pickup-point, and I was told to shoot off a few rounds into the water below. I quickly loaded the chain of linked rounds into the chamber and closed the cover tightly. Then I pointed the weapon at the water and squeezed off a round, or two.

The weapon jammed, and I forgot what to do. So I looked up to the crew chief and yelled thinking I got a bad machine gun. He tapped my shoulder and reached down to pull the lever handle back and the jammed round was ejected. I instantly felt better, confident.

By that time, our course was changing toward the west and I could see the fortified French fort called Hue. It was star shaped and a remarkable sight from a military standpoint. Just west of Hue, was our ammo pickup-point the Hue Ammo Dump we went right into it.

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I say this because there was an obstacle that no one could have seen, because it was placed just inside the huge revetmented area, and it was beneath our viewing . . .

We slowly stopped, hovered and descended to the lone soldier for his hookup of one of the many bundles of eight-inch (diameter) howitzer shells. And while that was being done, I took off my gloves to adjust my headset. Then I looked down to see the obstacle behind us.

When the pilot began to lift the heavy load beneath us, the main rotor blades coned upwards and forced the tail rotor down under the strain. Then, the obstacle, a metal conex box storage container boldly came right up to the level of and connected with our tail rotor.

Bam!

The whole tail rotor pylon was sheered off neatly and flew up over the high horizon.

The whole fuselage shuddered and the pilot tried to stabilize, then the torque forces took over. Having lost the anti-torque tail rotor no effort to control torque forces could be made — from that point, only controlled crash was the only option for the pilot — we began spinning.

Gently we were set down into the area stacked with large bundles of shells. In a matter of seconds, the huge cargo bay I was standing in — along with the crew chief and right gunner — began descending and impacted the landing gear. Then the pilot caused the blades to impact.

At this point the fuselage rolled over to the right causing me to scramble to stay upright. Dust from the blade impact caused total blackout, and as I struggled to stay upright, I realized my left leg wasn’t working properly . . . Then, the deck became left wall and all exposed wires burst into flames.

GO TO THE LIGHT!”

In the pitch black dust from the ground impact, and the smoke coming from all exposed wiring that were enflamed with burning insulation — a vision of hell had come true. I distinctly heard in my heart, “Go to the light.” And again, as sunlight beamed in.

I was in no place to question what I heard. I had managed to stay up by sliding across the floor as it tilted away sending me down toward the burning bulkhead standing on one leg — I knew I wasn’t able to walk over the flames to the rear exit.

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Just as soon as I saw the sunlight beam through the upper-left cockpit window, I turned toward it and gently leaned over onto the crew chief who was helping disconnect the pilot from his seatbelt, and easily dove headfirst over the pilot to exit through his open window.

MY BAPTISM OF FIRE

That was only able to get me to the ground which was burning. I realized I had only enough strength to get out of the fire, and knew only to go — toward the light! So the light was to my left (starboard) and with all my strength, I leaped like a burning one-legged frog out of the flames.

I physically collapsed on the sand just beneath the huge fuselage as peals of smoke were sparking loudly and billowing up into the sunny sky. I tried to crawl away, but my left leg would not move! Even using both arms — all my strength was sapped. I prayed:

“God! Save me or take me home!” I said in a hurry, desperately.

Just then I saw the pilot come running to find me, “Hey Marine! Get up! Run Marine! He yelled.

No sir I can’t — my leg is broken” I yelled back.

Without hesitation, the pilot, a captain — the commander of the 5-person crew — came boldly over to me to stand next to the loudly burning cockpit windows, bend down to yell and grab my shoulders.

“You try as hard as you can, and I’ll try as hard as I can, and together we’ll get out o’here!” He yelled, and began to lift my left shoulder and right arm.

From that small assist, I felt my right leg gain some energy, and I could feel he wanted me to lean on him. We got up, and took a small step. Then two steps to the base of the large twelve-foot revetment, then up one step. Then another, then another . . .

The struggle to do this was becoming frantic! We were half way up, and knew we were still in perilous danger! Just a few more feet to get to safety! Another small step. And another was enough to see over the top . . . Then,

BAOOM! BAMA-BOOM!

The ammo began to cook off. But the force of it sent both of us sprawling over the top, just like God’s gentle hand gave us a small push.

Haha! Ha ha!” We laughed as an emotional release.

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I thought it was God’s deliverance, and felt I had to pray a prayer, so I prayed the only prayer I had remembered in such an intense moment: You know it . . .

Our Father who art in heaven,” I said laying numb but safely alive on the cool revetment. My hands and face were burned.

You don’t have to pray sergeant!” Yelled the pilot sitting next to me over the noise.

Oh yes, but I do sir!” I said and finished praying.

“Holy is your name! Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven! Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive all who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for You are the kingdom the power and the glory, forever and ever! Amen.” I said.

The exploding remainder of the some 200 tons of exposed shells were just beginning to cook off — taking three days to burn up.

We were then being helped by medical and rescue personnel. They got a stretcher for me. And I think I was given a shot, because I don’t remember what happened next. I had begun to feel the pain when lifted onto the stretcher . . .

VISITED IN THE HOSPITAL

I was taken to the DaNang Air Force Base (AFB) medical facility and given a body cast. I woke up and remember being visited by the pilot, Captain Bill Connelly, and one other officer, possibly the doctor assigned, who explained my condition and prognosis.

I got the pilot’s story of why we crashed, “The wind turbulants forced him to risk going too close to the revetment with our tail.” Captain Connelly said.

And the doctor explained the medical evacuation process. “You will be flown to Japan for a more extensive exam, taking a couple of weeks; then get flown to Travis AFB, and finally Oakknowl Naval Hospital, where they will fix your leg so you can return to duty.”

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, AND THANK YOU!

I was so pleased to hear that. It was all positive, and my attitude was returned affirmative rather than skeptical. God had shown me his mercy. Specifically, to get me out of combat, where I was in danger of failing to keep my promise to Mom.

The bodycast was huge! What a big deal it was. How a team of cast makers can wrap a Marine’s body to make it functional as a splint and an immobilization device — all without causing further injury, is a procedure worthy of a how to training video . . .(YouTube.com)

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[Note: Being transported halfway around the world in an Air Force or Navy C-141, is deserving of some rehearsal (notice the opening for elimination!) I was so thankful I could eat and poop because that service was also provided by the wonderful nurse corps at no extra cost!]

CHAPTER SEVEN — Arrival surprise at Travis AFB

MILLION DOLLAR FIX, COMBAT PAY INCLUDED – THREE GODLY HEALING EVENTS – THE WEDDING – THE HONEYMOON – RETURN TO DUTY – SARAH JOYCE BUNDSCHU – PATRICIA LYNN BUNDSCHU

I have to include that being in this cast for three weeks was deserving of not only the gingerly treatment and embarrassing exposure, but also the preservation of the injury to insure efficient repair and reward: Flight delivery landing was at Travis AFB, Sacramento, California.

Someone contacted my Dad, and he was able to meet me there at the medical facility, when I arrived. What a surprise!

Dad! Hey, great to see you! How did you know I was coming?” I said as I might see him from the cast that came up to to my armpits. And my face and hands were covered by bandages.

Hello son, oh, I can be in touch with people who know your status . . . Your unit notified me, we got a telegram, not unlike if you were killed, only no officials were delivering it, Western Union was sufficient unto the day! We were so glad to hear you were safe and coming home!” He said.

Dad was such a healing sight. He was all dressed up in a suit, like he was serving on an insurance advisory board for the State of California congressional inquiry into seismic building codes. Just the eventuality that buildings can be made earthquake safe was cause.

MILLION DOLLAR FIX, COMBAT PAY INCLUDED!

My memory of a broken leg repair at the US Naval Hospital in Oakland California, is a little blurry because of medication. I did agree to have a spinal tap, enabling me to be semiconscious while the repair was in process. It was explained to me how it’s done.

I had a classic simple fracture of my left femur. To isolate the bone, it had to be clamped in alignment for the drilling of and incerting of a large (nail) spike. I have no idea how such a simple fracture (clean break) can happen, but for the intensity of the impact.

My opinion is biased because I believe God enabled everyone else to escape serious injury and were able to walk through the large garage-door exit open to the rear–despite all the smoke and burning wires. (I was not briefed on emergency exiting).

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I once found a fable about how a shepherd can correct a stubborn lamb by breaking it’s leg, splinting it, and carrying it on his shoulders until healed. The application of such a fable could be applied to me, I did feel a great relief, peace, and closeness to God.

THREE GODLY EVENTS THAT HEALED ME

Once my leg was isolated, I developed a staff infection that swelled and needed draining. But that done, with antibiotics, I could be given my own room with access to a phone. I received a call from Texas, It was Helen, and it was good to hear her voice . . .

We discussed our differences and resolved all our conflicts, so that in a matter of minutes, I proposed again, she accepted, and we began to make arrangements for her to fly out to California, meet Dad, and find an apartment, pick up my car and come to me.

When she arrived and appeared in my private room, I was still in bed, bed-ridden all day long, as I had been post surgery; I looked at her differently — she was a different person. She had dropped everything, her job, her car, her family, just to come to me.

Our love had been dormant since I left Texas, but now, nine months later (nearly), we became lovers in a flash. She had really matured into a fully developed double-ewe-oh-em-ay-en! Her presence stimulated every cell in my body. Thank God she came to me.

It was new life for me seeing Helen. Our relationship was beginning to bloom again. It was spring about to turn summer. Dad and Alice began to plan for our wedding and they even set a date for August 10th, provided her family would want to come to San Francisco to see it.

In the meantime, I needed to be able to walk and stand. That meant being fitted for a leg brace . . .

Around that time, I gained a roommate. He was a sailor with a cancerous growth on his thigh. Seaman Second Class Dan Kirchner and his wife Patsy became our fast friends even sharing our faith. Helen and I were close enough to pray with them and for them. They taught us about suffering. Whatever God was going to give them was okay — his grace was sufficient for them both.

Their friendship enabled Helen to share our challenges with them, and she could see me as her future husband through their eyes. They were a pair of angels to encourage us despite the loss of his entire leg, his attitude was always positive as newlyweds.

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THE WEDDING

Dad and Alice knew that we wanted a church wedding, so they went all out to have it in the historic Swedenborgian Church as a wonderful setting. Gothic architecture, lots of candles lighted, and the family history — where both grandfather and father tied the knot, so Dad foot the bill too.

The big effort was made by Helen’s family, because they made the trip by car! A twenty-four-hour ride, which I drove when getting processed out — to drive three and a half states! But they made it and were present and we were so honored they made the sacrifice for us.

The ceremony was a standard Protestant wedding, that met with Baptist or Universal Christian (not Catholic, however) Swedenborgianism notwithstanding. Helen was beautiful in a white wedding gown, and I wore dress blues, that fit although the leg brace was awkward.

I waited at the altar and viewed all our first cousins and her family, while Dad was standing with me as best man. The organ played, everyone stood facing Helen and her dad as they slowly came up to us, down the isle — up for me, down for her. I was numb with excitement!

A once in a lifetime moment. How can I tell my story and not try to remember this? We had already read and understood the minister’s words. So I received Helen’s hand from her father, and acknowledged both her mother and father were very graciously giving.

We turned toward the altar and stepped up to face the minister holding both hands.

Dearly beloved . . . today I take great pleasure in welcoming everyone to our wedding chapel and the fellowship of angels and saints, both visibly and invisibly present . . . to join together Miss Helen Louise Ernst . . . with Marine Sergeant Charles Bundschu III.

“Let us pray . . .” The minister led us all in a very genuine prayer for grace, peace and mercy. We were so excited, we didn’t remember his words then, but we definitely woke up to:

Helen, will you take Charles to be your lawfully wedded husband, to devote yourself to him in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, and until death do you part?”

“I will.” Helen said.

And Charles, will you take Helen to be your lawfully wedded wife, and to devote yourself to her in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, and until death do you part?”

“I will.” I said.

Then I turned to Dad who handed me her ring. Then I turned back to her for her hand.

With this ring I thee wed.” I said as I gently put the ring on her ring finger.

Then she turned to her sister Sue, standing with her to get my ring. Then she turned to me for my left hand.

With this ring I thee wed.” She said placing it on my ring finger.

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Then, by the authority vested in me by our church and our state, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.”

I gently lifted her vale, and leaned into her face holding her hands.

We kissed briefly, and turned to our families.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bundschu.”

Everyone applauded as we stood there, and the minister tapped my shoulder and told me to both come to his office to sign the papers. I nodded and said we would.

We forgot ourselves for a few moments, and tried to thank everyone for coming — hugs all around. We met the minister, signed his papers, and said we agreed to send a survey return form after ten years if still married. (Although we failed at the 9-year point.)

As we left the church, everyone was invited for reception at Dad and Alice’s apartment, I had a tilting moment because of my leg brace — I forgot to walk down the steps using the leg-brace locks, enabling knee bending, and teetered about to fall.

My Uncle Jack Lindeman was my hero of that moment and grabbed my arm sternly to keep me from falling.

Thank you sir” I said to him. He was the most highly ranked family military member whom I regarded favorably. (He was retired with the reserve promotion to brigadier.)

You’re welcome nephew; remember you’re still a hospital patient.” He said wisely.

I am forever grateful to him and God for his timely support. Our family was a powerful influence toward serving our country in military service. But at this point, I was being given blissful grace to let my brain relax and my heart assume command.

THE HONEYMOON

The reception was a very sleepy affair which brought Champaign and flowers to our graceful departure. From a family loaded with throwing rice and camera picture-taking events that made everyone happy for coming . . . our departure was bitter-sweet, but we did it gracefully.

Our honeymoon was a thirty day affair. I didn’t need to report back to the hospital for four weeks. What a wonderful break! Only the military gives such paid vacations, but everyone felt we deserved it. What a wonderful send off we got!

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We traveled the central state. We played penuckle in our bed, we were together everywhere we went, we twiddled our fingers, and we tried to be kind and gentle. No one told us what to do, or how to do it. We looked like grownups, we felt like grownups.

We thought we were grownups. But alas, we both only had one thing in mind: What does one-flesh mean? Like the little chicken that wouldn’t lay an egg — what could we do? Finally, we got an appointment with a gynecologist at the hospital, and he helped.

You are doing nothing wrong, it takes time for the youthful female to adapt to your situation! You are going through what every young married couple is facing. Don’t worry, be happy! Your best life and living is ahead of you! I envy you both!” He said hearing us.

Was that a clue that married life may not be all a bed of roses?

Well, we continued south to visit some friends and find our big event in a small tent at a Yosemite campground. The little chicken cried, and the little chicken begged! And we poured hot water up and down her leg . . . Finally, answered prayer! We were one-flesh!

We thought we were well prepared for our honeymoon, but I have to confess I was ill prepared. The doctor’s advice was good advice. I thought I was more mature than Helen, but she showed herself brave. And the only reason for that was she listened to her biology teacher in high school — where, I was so unbelieving, That I had to date a girl who showed me some details — so I could get a passing grade.

The beauty and grandeur of Yosemite Valley, and our view of the Half Dome was spectacular! I had come to that place before, but never saw it quite like we did together. It was a heavenly place above the clouds, having a glory only God could show us.

Alas, that was more like what we expected. Breaking ourselves gently into our new relationship. It was “a building“, a foundation worthy to build our hopes and dreams upon. And, yes, a whole lot of mushy stuff. We even drove to San Diego to visit Dan and Patsy.

Driving back, we ventured through the dessert of Death Valley. It was fun, but we felt like we had seen the elephant. We wanted to return to Helen’s apartment in San Anselmo. We learned of a Vacation Bible School at a Baptist church in San Raphael.

So, we signed up to volunteer as teachers, for children’s lessons. That was not beneath us, and we gained some heartfelt benefit in the spirit of charity.

One day after that, we were at home together, not expecting visitors, when there was a knock on the door. We weren’t dressed. I peeked out to see who I knew would call on us at just such a time . . . it was my old camp director, Dick Hacke. I whispered who to her.

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She felt uncomfortable about receiving him, so we froze in place till he went away. My thought was he wanted to be social and wish us well, or try recruiting me into his company of Boy Scout leaders. Anyway, he eventually departed quietly.

At this point, I must express due honor and respect to and for this great man in my life. He was singularly the handicapped military veteran who suffered the loss of his manhood serving in the US Navy in WWII, but was dedicated to Scouting and our youth.

HONEYMOON OVER

From there, Helen and I sought to move to Oakland and prepare for my service with the hospital duty assignment, which began in a most humiliating way, of all places: To clean up and maintain floors beneath the amputee ward occupants. They suffered worse!

I was able to relate somehow with amputees just as if they were the occupants of the Marble Mountain Air Facility at Da Nang, Vietnam; where I was shown to share the chapel programs . . . But, the chapel there was separated from the hospital wards . . .

Then, I was assigned to the baggage room, where I received all the personal effects of all the injured personnel. A good job, where patients came when they could rely on me to keep their stuff, until they needed it. There I worked with a Civil Service employee.

This civilian hospital employee, I was able to witness to. He was a hippy. Long hair, and a pusher of marijuana like an evangelist for the devil, Satan. He made it sound so good! But I would not even submit to him or his association with pot — or his hippy friends.

Our assignment, back to my active duty station in Santa Ana California, was a relief. We easily moved to the nearby town of Costa Mesa, and began seriously planning for our small family. Returning to LTA was like coming home. Given light duty, I got back on my feet.

When reporting to the office, there was an officer that came over to me to show me his copy of the Naval Aviator Magazine and the feature article showing the Hue Army Ammo Dump and the remains of the helicopter I had been rescued from.

I did get to tell my rescue story, and express my gratefulness to God and Captain Bill Connelly for his strength and selfless courage. Like the office had to stop to hear my story. How such opportunities occur is a wondrous mystery. (Like writing this even.)

This assignment was my last US Marine duty assignment. Helen and I began our family there with a humble (simple) prayer, that we were willing for God to bless us with his children. And he did. Helen became pregnant with Sarah Joyce, to be born in Texas!

Her delivery was so close to my out-processing that she flew home before I was released. And little Joy was born before I could join them. Of course Helen’s parents were there to comfort her. And all went well at the Jefferson County Hospital in Port Arthur, Texas.

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SARAH JOYCE BUNDSCHU

Joy at 12

Our first daughter, was named after Sarah Hall, Pastor’s wife, and Joyce who was a study leader of Helen’s that I did meet one time. Joy was my favorite daughter. I say this only because she and I were thrown together by her need for a loving dad to rock her to sleep.

My jobs since returning to civilian life, were as part-time security guard at a Port Arthur department store, until Helen and Joy were able to move to her most familiar locale: Hurst, Euless, Bedford cities in the mid-metroplex of Dallas-Fort Worth: Arlington Texas.

Then, of course, I returned to work with Turney Sloan, and his hydraulic shop at Ling Tempco Vaught Aeronautics, in Grand Prairie. We found a suitable apartment in Arlington. That was a good job, I could grow with. Many associates there were twenty-year employees.

We found a small Baptist Church to join in central Arlington, and began to settle in . . .

As Joy was an infant, we learned she had an aversion to calcium, so she needed to have a clear liquid, even Seven-Up with a calcium supplement. And her bed time routine required a rocking to gentle sleep with the rocking chair given to us by Helen’s great grandmother.

I remember every other night having to rock and pray and sing softly with tiny Joy. She taught me how to be a father to her. (Of course we double-teamed for her.)

The pastor was stricken with cancer and died a slow, painful death. An associate pastor, named Daniel Vestal, tried to get me to go door to door visiting that would take me away from my small family, and I refused, and openly rejected his evangelizing program, although he was very gifted.

My hydraulic test technician job went away when my skin showed signs of cracking and sores from exposure to the cleaning solvent, so another transition was needed. I applied with an advertising agency for an artist position showing my small portfolio from art school.

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They liked it and hired me as a mechanical artist to start. Working downtown Dallas was a move we managed to make, for the apartment out on the avenues, meant a bus ride commute was practical and convenient. We even joined the large First Church downtown Dallas.

Joy was beginning to grow faster. Her seven-up diet was putting weight on her tiny body. I was inspired to paint a nude portrait of her when 2 years old — so cute she was. I will always remember that portrait, but it had to be trashed because mommy did not like it.

I sought a lunchtime bible study with a work associate. She was a Church of Christ Christian. I was told I could not study with her, unless I accepted their doctrine and baptism, and was invited that very night. So I went, listened to scripture, was baptized — just for a lunchtime study!

My opinion of such an activity was an exercise in futility. Their teaching was no different from Baptist baptism, except for holding to it’s salvation, redemptive-forgiving-of-sin capacity. Which according to Acts 2:38, reaches beyond where Baptists care to take you.

PATRICIA LYNN BUNDSCHU

Patsy at 9

Our second daughter, Patsy, was named after Patsy Kirchner, Dan’s wife. I was unable to attend her birth as well. I loved her none-the-less. And she showed me how to be a father to her. I was assigned as a soldier in Europe, having quit commercial art — little promise!

The enlistment as a Specialist E-4, UH-1 mechanic sent me directly to Sandhofen near Mannheim, Germany, from basic. While Patsy grew out of infancy, I attended Badtoelz NCO Academy and applied for Officer Candidate School: passing the OCS test in basic.

As soon as Patsy was able to travel, her mom put her and Joy on a plane to come join me. There was a wonderful civilian employee at battalion HQ that showed me who to see and where to go, to miraculously arrange for a 3rd floor cold-water flat in Viernheim.

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CHAPTER EIGHT – Europe and a world tour.

INTERVIEW FOR OCS – ROTATION TO FORT BENNING – INFANTRY LEADERSHIP SCHOOL – FIELD TRAINING AND AN ANOMALY – OKINAWA AND XO JOB – CHURCH OPPORTUNITIES AND FAILURE – BARGENE DANETTE BUNDSCHU – ANSWERED PRAYER – WILLIAM CHARLES BUNDSCHU – PREFACE TO CHAPTER NINE

Their flight was something Helen was bold and gifted enough to tackle. I was so proud and honored to have them join me on such a memorable tour of duty. She had to apply for passports, and, I’m sure she was given much favor and help from friends and God.

When I got to meet Patsy, she was still an infant (can I use that word, dear?). Of course she doesn’t remember her time in the beautiful storybook-fairytale city we stayed in; we lived in Disneyland without realizing it. So I rocked her to sleep like Joy taught me to do.

I think Joy learned to walk in Germany. We did a lot of sightseeing there. I could carry Patsy on my shoulders when we visited the Heidelberg Castle. Joy was walking like a big girl. I think I called Patsy Princess there (Patricia means princess). And, I rode a bike to work.

I worked as a document clerk like I did in Vietnam — same job different aircraft (helicopter). My boss was the first sergeant, who favored me and pushed me alongI was promoted upon agreeing to re-enlist and got a bonus of 2,000 dollars with which we paid some debts and began to plan to return to CONUS for OCS. I remember cramming for the OCS interview, by running 3-miles a day. My boss helped me too.

The interview was held at a supply depot that took a train ride and a taxi to get to. I made the trip on time, and collected my wits. My uniform was freshly tailored due to my lost weight from fitness training. I was ready to face a panel of officers: For Patsy!

INTERVIEW FOR OCS

Specialist Bundschu reporting, sir!” I said as I smartly clicked my heels and saluted.

At ease specialist.” The center officer, a major, began as convening authority. “Thank you for coming to our semiannual quest to find the best enlisted personnel to send to officer training . . .” He said beginning. “We each have something to ask, and will try to test your qualifications. Would you like to introduce yourself?

I was standing at parade rest, facing directly at him sitting behind a long desk that included two more officers of similar grade.

Thank you for asking, sir. I am serving as technical publications clerk with the 582nd Transportation Company, at Sandhoffen Barracks. I come from San Anselmo, California, I am married to Helen Louise, a sweet girl from Euless, Texas. We have two wonderful daughters that love their daddy. We love visiting this place together, sir.” I said.

We are interviewing soldiers from all over the Third US Army Command who have expressed a desire to becomes commissioned officers. Please tell us why you want to be commissioned.

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“I love my country, and I love serving the military arm of our federal government. Sir, my desire is to become a leader and to help others learn to lead.” I said thinking to be direct.

Your record is showing you are a recent graduate of our 3rd US Army Noncommissioned Officer School, with such training, you are given some insight about leadership; your answer is too text-book, son — tell us why you really want to be commissioned.” The major on the right asked.

Oh, yes sir, you also may see, I served in Vietnam with dedicated officers in their combat resupply crew, when the pilot set down our helicopter in the ammo dump, crashing into 200 tons of live howitzer shells, the pilot saved my life risking his own . . . I want to follow him!

Good answer, specialist. A good leader knows how to follow. We commend you for your combat experience, how long were you in-country?” The major on the right said.

Just four months, but it was during the Tet-offensive, and I received credit for three campaigns, sir.”

“Tell us more about your concept of following your heroic rescuer.” Asked the center major.

Not so much a concept, sir, more like a calling. Our pilot said he went down with two other failed missions. His courage has my attention. We need more leaders like Major Bill Connelly.” I said with admiration.

Good point specialist.” Said the center major. He looked both ways and settled into the big question.

Now, put yourself in a command position. You’re leading a detail that nobody wants to do, and it is critical to do it quickly, and move on — everyone has to be on-board with your instruction. You issue a 5-paragraph order covering all aspects of the operation, when . . .”

The major leaned forward to describe an insubordinate trooper, who was messy and out of uniform, who has the instructions all wrong, and shows flagrant disrespect in front of everyone . . . “What can you do to get his attention?”

I thought fast and wanted to act before saying anything: I quickly brought my foot up to climb into the major’s face. And just as soon I did that, all three officers leaned back with hands up, loudly saying, “Okay! Okay Specialist!”

I recovered my composure, and returned to a parade rest position without a word.

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Good response specialist! And you recovered well. Can we conclude with telling us your last civilian assignment, what you did, and why you left?” The center major asked.

Yes sir. I was a commercial artist with a Dallas newspaper advertising agency, and was always given assignments that were already late, and told to have it done yesterday — for every job I was given. The pressure was unreasonable. When I quit, I told them so.” I said.

That’s fine specialist, you are dismissed.” He said.

I snapped to attention, and saluted, holding it until all three returned it. And made an about face, and marched to the door, exited and relaxed. That interview seemed to have happened without any serious flaws. I was uncertain about results until orders came.

I was selected as one of only six candidates from the entire European command. God was with me, and Helen was pleased. I hugged all my girls, and rested quietly . . .

OUR EARLY ROTATION TO FORT BENNING

That was 1971. Joy was 3, and Patsy was 6 months old, when we arrived at Fort Benning. I was admittedly pretty much caught up in myself, and had no idea how to process in, that I wanted to provide for family before signing in. So we rented a house.

That was temporary, anyway, we figured that much, but sometimes getting on-post quarters takes some scheduling, especially coming from overseas duty. And that happened to be the case: priority was given to returnees coming from Vietnam first.

Soldiers returning from Vietnam were lined up well before us, so we were wise to find a place on our own. Vietnam was winding down, and those having served there deserved any priority offered them. How we got on post housing is another story.

Most of the candidates were junior to me. I was actually aged at the upper limit of admission — 32. I was the “old man”, although I don’t remember anyone calling me so. As well as most of the candidates were recent college grads and nearly a decade younger.

I think my maturity and experience made up for my lack of education credentials. Only when it came the time for permanent selection, three years later, did I need to worry about that. The opportunity for me was the higher quota due to the war at the time.

Helen was a true helpmate taking care of things, and willing to live off post apart from me while I was getting into the training program. Our prayers were answered, when after several weeks, she went to see a doctor, and our status was upgraded.

Whether it was a baby doctor or a woman’s doctor, I don’t remember; but Helen was found to be pregnant. I was notified and told to take some time, and moved my family on post. That was a real blessing that the service is good for: Families are important.

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There were other candidates in a similar situation, so we fit right in. The effort was supposed to make things less stressful for the trainee-spouses, but, as life happens, we were unable to keep from losing her. The loss was a sad event to tell her parents.

MEANWHILE INFANTRY LEADERSHIP SCHOOL

The class we were assigned to was called the 51st Officer Candidate Company. Organized into six platoons, I was in the fifth platoon and we called ourselves Mean Motivators. The whole company was the size of a detachment, simulated for training purposes.

Everyone could be assigned to a platoon grade position, while a few were chosen for company grade. The routine was a balance of physical exercise and classroom work. I learned to write, and concentrated on administrative dispositions. PT wasn’t hard.

Helen, on the other hand, was recuperated, and began socializing with hospitable activities. We did invite a few associates to our humble dwelling and shared some food and fellowship. She was really good with such things. And we went to chapel.

In the chapel program, we were assigned a sponsor, a major and his wife. Such an encouragement were these folks. I was just comforted to see how our faith made room for us. Not everyone wanted a sponsor. Not everyone needed one. We needed one.

The chapel was all about open acceptance. There was no challenge that could not be dealt with. The helpful, friendly, courteous capacity of leadership was all about loving teamwork. Our faith grew by leaps and bounds. I was very impressed to be there.

SOME FIELD TRAINING AND AN ANOMALY

The class was taken to several ranges to see impressive demonstrations of weapon fire. All at the Infantry level. Our morale was boosted just to see these powerful displays, and calling for artillery was included; a skill to develop controlled destructive accuracy.

The twenty-three week course was about to be completed, when I felt a pain in my leg. We went to sick call for an exam and learned how there was a bone fragment from the healed left femur that would not get the message. A swelling began to grow in my thigh.

What? The doctor said it wasn’t serious enough to wash me out, that I could graduate, but needed to be hospitalized immediately thereafter. I was fine with that. The jump school post OCS, I might have to miss. My orders sent us to Okinawa directly afterward.

I graduated a limping second lieutenant none-the-less. That was still special. The commander of the war theater, General Westmoreland handed out diplomas, and there because his driver was graduating with us — granted to him as his requested reward.

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OKINAWA AS AN EXECUTIVE OFFICER

It was only a few weeks in a hospital bed and daily cleansing for my wound to heal, closing from the inside out. I was released in good health to not even look back. No jump school training for me, because of a medical light duty status.

Arrival in Okinawa was a return assignment — yet now accompanied with loved ones. All of which made the assignment far better. The unit assigned could not receive me due to not being jump qualified. I was told to temporarily assist the Special Services Officer.

This job was a real help with getting my leg up to full strength. The boss, a light colonel, was motivated to use the command facilities, and encouraged me. Our focus, as a family, went to the Central Baptist Church, where we made ourselves available to serve.

Getting medical clearance, I was brought into the US Army Supply Depot Command as an executive officer (second ranking) under the commanding officer of the Headquarters Company, Special Troops Command. As an Infantry Second Lieutenant, I was honored to accept such a responsibility.

I settled into office work and getting to know the company and battalion commanders. I was accepted and felt my efforts to fill that position effectively were successful, essentially caring more for others than for or about myself.

CHURCH SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES

Helen became interested with the youth program and began supporting the teenagers. I was asked to serve as a deacon, which meant passing the collection basket, and ushering. But there was a chance to help by driving the church bus when needed.

I learned that our battalion commander belonged to the Masons. So I was invited to become a member, but declined because I felt it conflicted with church schedules. That may have been a mistake, but I didn’t care, frankly, a priority issue — not knowing the colonel well.

I think my duty as an officer was viewed with an enlisted perception. No politics, just duty — no favoritism, just obedience was sufficient unto the day. NOT EXACTLY. A federal commission must be performed as viewed from all angles: circumspectly. I missed that.

My ratings reflected this. However, my personal devotion to duty was as fulfilling as I could have hoped, that is, answering to God (directly). Examples of this were when I served as pay officer. I was able to counsel soldiers, informally but personally.

One young man was worried about his separation from his young family, and I directed him to local counseling, and Army Relief Services, as some may not be aware of. But I could sense he wanted more personal advice — so I shared my faith with him, simply.

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Basically, I shared how God is a personal God and loves us on every level. So that if he might want to try him and receive his faith, to specifically just ask Jesus Christ to become your God, as he invites us to do, he will gently come to you in a real way.

Looking eyeball to eyeball with such advice in personal counseling, may not be official, although the chaplain liked it, it made an impact. Even a week after that soldier rotated home, he wrote me about how he took my evangelical advice, and it worked for him.

ANOTHER CHURCH OPPORTUNITY I FAILED WITH

The pastor, who was the missionary that originally baptized me, had served his term and took his family away on their sabbatical. Then the music minister had to step up to serve as interim pastor. Somehow, our working with the youth, did not please him.

Helen could be trusted to counsel his children, as in girl-advice etc., but he told her, not to have such close relations with all the children in the youth program. Helen was hog-tied to try to lead where she felt the Holy Spirit was guiding her, and comply with him.

So we prayed about it. I heard a simple word call him. My conscience was working, but I did not acknowledge that I needed to obey — even just to discuss it with him — but I thought about doing such a simple thing. It could have brought a peaceful resolution.

But I refused to make that call. Then, it happened that suddenly, the interim pastor submitted his resignation, and publicly admitted his failure to be pastor effectively. When we heard that from the pew, I reacted with, Praise the Lord!”

Everyone around us heard what I said, and turned to us with disapproval and disdain. Nobody understood, the conflict we were having as youth leaders. And apparently the interim pastor would not call us to iron out our differences. That caused a split.

We put our activity on the back burner, and managed a low profile. The youth group was called AWOL, which is the acronym for “Absent Without Leave“. So the interim pastor took his family home to the states, and everyone wished them bon voyage.

BARGENE DANETTE BUNDSCHU

Our third daughter was early and named for Barbara and Eugene combined, and Daniel Kirchner. (Facebook)

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As our small family was growing, Helen was again found to be with child. And this brought us into another housing priority that could move us closer to the hospital. We were willing to move, so we were even given a duplex designated for hospital personnel.

This was the Spring of 1974, about 18 months into our tour. I was still a 2LT, but given an additional duty as interim Woman’s Army Corps (WAC) detachment commander — just until their new commander could arrive. The office was for a 2LT, so I was able to try.

Such leadership opportunities are rare, and this was no exception. I realized I might help administratively, and maintain some semblance of order. Especially since the first sergeant was in charge anyway. (There was an incident that my faith helped me settle.)

Our daughter was in a hurry to come forth. She was delivered nearly a month early and classifies a preemie. She weighed 4 pounds 8 ounces. I was called in time to witness this delivery. She shot out of her mother like a cannon shell! But nobody objected.

The doctor held her small frame upside down and spanked her to get her breathing. We counted her fingers and toes, and took her home . . . at least in our heart we thought about doing that, but no — her little heart needed to close a valve to enable lung blood.

Such anomalies are common with not full-term babies. Since her blood source was mother’s oxygenated blood had to be cut at birth, and I witnessed it, the lung function needs to have access to the blood pump, which was denied, even temporarily.

What authorities decided was to fly little Danette and mommie in a medical emergency flight all the way to California where a surgical team was waiting at a hospital in San Francisco to do what she needed to be done. We had all the church people praying.

ANSWERED PRAYER

The evacuation team of a flight surgeon and flight nurse with an incubator and new-born with mother, was an experience no one wanted, but the military is given the resources to do such things, all under training provisions. A miracle was needed!

And a miracle we got! Little Danette’s heart valve closed naturally and verification enabled the flight to return to base, but at the expense of twelve hour (training) flight. Actually, the pediatrician wanted to keep an eye on her for some time.

We were so very thankful that we were in the right place at the right time, that enabled such a beautiful baby girl to be brought into this world. And our world is a better place because of her. Our church fellowship provided a rocking cradle and room for her.

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WILLIAM CHARLES BUNDSCHU

Along about that time, our battalion legal clerk, who served in my company, was arrested for illegal drug possession. I was responsible to visit him in the jail downtown Naha, Okinawa. The conditions were terrible: Dark and dank, unfit for humanity.

I visited with him to learn how his job got him into having the marijuana planted in his pocket. I personally stood up for him in court believing his story how his socializing with locals that took advantage of him and his legal position. He was released. But not long.

It happened again. I had no restrictions placed on him, because I believed in his innocence, no question. But this time, the book was levied upon him: he had to be sent to prison. Even worse, sent to Sasebo, Japan (mainland). So he called me from jail.

Lieutenant Bundschu, this is Specialist Kalley, I have to report how I was arrested last night, and they are throwing the book at me.”

“Hello Bill, sorry to hear that, what are the charges?”

“The same as before. They got me at a friend’s house. I trusted him and fell victim again.”

“Then you are guilty of possession again?”

“Yes sir.”

“That’s too bad Bill. What can we do now?” I asked thinking there is hope still.

“I am guilty of the crime, and lying to you. I have to face the consequences . . . There is one thing you can do for me sir.”

“I will do what I can.” I said thinking what the command allows.

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Sir, I have a son. He was brought with me from San Diego, when I went there to divorce my wife, who was becoming a prostitute. So the boy, Billy, is living in Naha at a place you can find. Would you please find him and keep him for me?”

“Okay, Then your prison will be served time, and we can meet you at our point of entry?”

“Yes sir. I will try to call you again. In the meantime, please help my son.”

“Right Bill, I hear you. You can trust me to find him, and make a temporary home for him.”

“Thank you sir. I will keep you informed. God bless you sir.”

“You are welcome Bill. We will be praying for you.” I said thinking how soon I might leave.

He thanked me again for offering to help him, and hung-up.

I reported to The battalion office about their legal clerk status, so they might get a replacement. I also knocked on my boss’s door. I informed him of my willingness to retrieve the boy from the local, off-post, housing that I might locate. He approved.

I went, I found, and I told the woman watching after Billy with other children, who I was as temporary guardian, and she brought him to me. I saw Billy as a skinny-ninny of a boy. He came to us as a five-year old, Joy’s age, and a birthday only four day’s her junior.

I was not officially sanctioned to do such a thing. But when Helen and I discussed how we might be foster parents. She was willing. I also heard informally from a lawyer from the legal office how he was impressed and complimented me for us to do such a thing.

I did hear from Bill, Billy’s dad, as he called me again saying he was discharged and will be living in Southern California. That if I told him our arrival time and place when returning to the states, he would meet us and receive his son. But that did not happen.

When returning home and our duty station in Texas, we adopted William Charles officially. That was one legal action I have never regretted. Although I was only present in our new assignment as enlisted and given enlisted quarters as Billy’s new dad for a brief time, I have only felt compassion for him and his humble beginnings.

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A BUNDSCHU

Billy joined with Joy, Patsy, and Danette to wear the name of my ancestor and family befallen to me. I have always been proud of my heritage as a Bundschu. Which, by the way, means — in German, band of shoes, or, Shoes band (clan or union) Peasant shoes.

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The Bundschuh was the name of a German movement of people classed as farming workers whose shoes were always covered with the color of dark clay, almost black-looking shoes. And as the history tells, they believed Martin Luther’s Gospel tracts: And they revolted. No longer willing to serve the wealthy and priesthood, they rebelled.

(I cared to learn this when stationed in Germany, as our landlord complimented us for the name was an honorable name among their people, as it is taught in history class. So I actually went to the base library, and looked for my German name.)

Some 300,000 peasants were killed to stop the Bundschuh rebellion. Even Martin Luther had to take back his tracts to explain how he meant “spiritual freedom”.

[I care to write all this with humility, seeking to express my profound gratitude for the life I have been given to live in this world. Yes, I know I’m not finished writing, and not finished living . . . But I ask you, can you see the plot of my life-story yet? (Going down-hill)
This is next to the last chapter that I care to write. Let me finish this chapter, then we can concentrate with coming to the end, chapter nine. I must tell the hardest part of my life before anyone reading can plainly see the plot. But it does get better. Part 2 must suffer through the struggle of chapter nine, even to see the glory of parts three and four.]

PREFACE TO CHAPTER NINE

My life’s plot is about going to the light. It’s not how I have seen the light, but that I prefer the light, because the Light of God favored me — as we are all given grace to choose living in lighted spaces. Some are shown differently, to choose differently.

The last chapter of this part, chapter nine, (part II) is descriptive of my poor choice to return to serving as an enlisted soldier, and my downfall, failure to keep my marriage commitment of faithfulness to Helen; and then to tell her all about it. (Confession)

I had had enough experience to serve as a Private through PFC, once; Corporal E-3, twice; and now, Corporal E-4 for the third time. So I knew I might survive such a reduction in grade, but I did not consider how it might affect Helen. It was hard.

She was suffering emotionally but also physically. Her sinus attack was a challenge where I made a wrong choice. She suffered excruciating pain that required her to travel to a Houston hospital to get a specialist to drill through her nasal bone for pressure relief.

It worked for her, but I felt my young assignment with the enlisted service in the 502nd Medical Company, was more important, and I chose not to escort her. She asked a friend from church to go with her, who was very helpful, but it hurt her worse that I couldn’t put her above my obligation to help keep air ambulances in flight status . . .

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CHAPTER NINE – Living alone through a dark place.

STARTING OVER – THE CHRISTIAN MILITARY FELLOWSHIP – CHAPEL PARTICIPATION – PROMOTION – NEW JOB MIRACLE – THIRTY DAY REWARD – RETURN DELAY AND RESTRICTION – TO BOSS THE HUEY SEVEN – TESTIMONY TIME

STARTING OVER

My worldview had to change. When I reported to Fort Sam Houston with our family, we were directed through housing and signed up, to get in line for a house, as they made provision for us, but also we thought to find a reasonable 4-bedroom to rent.

We all went to church in San Antonio at the Evangelical Free Church and joined to serve and participate. One good reason was the contact Helen kept close to by correspondence. A teenage girl from AWOL, who had preceded us, was there to welcome us.

The pastor was an elder man with a masters degree in psychology who offered his services to help us all start over as enlisted. God was with him to counsel me. I was willing to learn and adjust, and such a gift to do so, we found helpful assistance.

Our moving in was easily done despite not having air conditioning. We shopped for an economical cooling system, and purchased a large electric fan to install centrally. It worked. I personally installed it in the hall ceiling, and connected it to a hall switch.

As a family, we settled in with reasonable comfort. An issue that I remember was the skinniness of Billy. I wanted him to eat the food we served. I rejected his skinny frame and yelled at him in front of everyone. He was destined to grow to an extreme weight.

I recently heard some teaching about the lasting effects of personal rejection. The human brain is subject to the permanent branding of memory, and I am aware of my fatherly miss-steps. How can William’s future be so damaged? He suffered with me.

I remember spanking the children as a form of discipline, and I tried to be fair. Once I was so upset about something, I slammed the wall with my fist — making a fist-sized hole. It was repaired easily, but such behavior is not that of a leader.

When we moved on post, we were made more comfortable, and it was located closer to my unit. But while I was able to walk to work, Helen was able to drive the children to school and begin looking for part time work. Our family prayer time was forgotten.

Helen found work as a nurse’s aid, and became somewhat independent. She found a friend at church that helped her to find another house to rent off post, and she took the children with her. I moved into the barracks, where my accompanied status changed.

I was promoted to sergeant E5, and orders came down to be reassigned to Korea. A duty I was encouraged to take, especially as Helen had taken over the children. I was in communication with a global ministry to servicemen. I tried to be positively faithful.

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THE CHRISTIAN MILITARY FELLOWSHIP

I thought Helen and the children were all okay. She knew what she wanted, and knew how to get it. I was a lot unsure about leaving them alone. I needed some more direction such as a missionary group that would pick me up to do what servicemen needed.

The Fellowship of Christian Military seemed like just what I needed. I went to their office when traveling to the west coast, I picked a flight that routed through Denver thinking I might make contact through the Christian Servicemen’s Center there. It worked. (cmf.com)

It helped me make contact with their president who lived just south of the city in Littleton, Colorado. I was told he was available, so I called him, thinking of the really great fellowship I had with John and Fern of the Santa Ana Servicemen’s Center.

My call went through, and I spoke directly with the man who made himself available to come pick me up. He did, and took me to stay in his home before catching my flight. He was interested in me and my fellowship, and we tried to befriend one another.

I do not remember his name, and I think I only wrote him one letter when I arrived at Camp Stanley, South Korea — to share my unit and the assignment I was given . . . Bravo Troop of the Fourth Squadron of the Seventh Cavalry as UH-1H Repairman/Crewchief. (m.facebook.com)

The mission was to be available to support the reconnaissance requirements of the Second US Army Infantry Division with surveillance of the border between North and South Korea. I was shown the border one time, but I remained mostly on the ground.

The darkest place on earth is within a Communist country, And North Korea is still Communist along with China. The location of our base was half way between Seoul and North Korea. Camp Stanley was a PX, a dining facility, craft shop, and a chapel.

South Korea is democratic, while the land is evangelized with a large Christian population. I did attend a retreat at a large chapel in Seoul and met with a soldier who was acquainted with the pastor we had in San Antonio. That was personally consoling.

My job was to prepare my aircraft daily, and fly if necessary. But because of the mission to fly the standard route and watch for anything unusual, I was not required to fly.

We had three types of aircraft to do the flight mission: Seven Bell UH-1’s, seven Hughes OH-6A’s, and seven Bell H-47’s. The crew chiefs, at one per each, formed a platoon of twenty-one. The troop had two platoons of infantrymen.

My attachment with the base chapel was acquaintance with the chaplain, and regular attendance, but my commitment to the Christian Military Fellowship, did not help me grow in personal devotion to God like I’d hoped. My failure was an unformed heart.

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PROMOTION TO STAFF SERGEANT

The troop commander knew that I had been commissioned, and was actually considered dual-status having leadership training and an honorable service record. His promoting me to SSG, gave me the responsibility of all seven UH-1 Huey crew chiefs, for a few weeks.

What happened was the annual mid-year Inspector General (IG) inspection that our commander asked me to help supply prepare for it. We needed to pass it. So I became the troop supply sergeant, but needed an experienced assistant, from the battalion.

So battalion sent a master sergeant who had suffered a heart attack. He was an angel on light duty. I learned a great deal from such a godly man. He was a hardy African American that I grew to love as he helped me over the hurdles of the assignment.

THE MIRACLE

We had a problem. The commander made it very clear that his weakness was the up to date signing of all property hand-receipts. If we get them all properly signed and can show openly all of them signed, then his (our) accountability would be complete.

But we had several items on unsigned (official) receipts. I don’t remember the details of what was assigned to whom, but the issue was somehow complicated — you know, the old story of the chicken who wouldn’t or couldn’t lay an egg? — we were in a fix!

The inspection was here. The senior inspector general staff entered our building and showed appropriate courtesy, and even had coffee and donuts available . . .

Good morning gentlemen. May we dispense with formalities, and get to the point, are you ready for our inspection?” Sergeant said.

Yes sergeant I said, I am the temporary troop supply sergeant.” I said smiling. We had everything cleaned — and all but one hand receipt was signed.

Then, let us proceed.” The sergeant spoke with calm authority, and our anxiety increased, as we directed them to the files the were most concerned with.

Here are our property hand receipts.” I showed the two senior NCO’s the file carton containing all Manila file folders containing the approved forms — all the receipts for all the troop property were there. And I noticed the inspectors had no clipboard to check.

I did not say they are all signed, and they did not ask if they were. They needed to have us show them each one.

Please hand me the first five files.” The chief inspector said as he sat at the desk.

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I found the files one through five, grasp them from the file carton, and handed them over. Both inspectors looked at each form, and nodded — now these items included all weapons, vehicles, aircraft, and everything required to operate the Bravo Troop.

“Please hand me files six through ten.”

I handed them to him. He returned the first batch, and replaced them in order where they belonged. Not complicated. Apparently it was their routine.

They looked at each file one at a time, being careful not to take any out of it’s place.

“And the next five.”

So I handed them the next five. They checked them methodically. They were thorough.

And I noticed the file not signed was in a duplicate fifteenth file, in other words, it was hiding behind the signed Manila folder with number “15” on it. It was in plain sight. When I handed file ten through fifteen and pulled them out the next file was visible.

But they did not see that, and nobody said anything.

Then, the next five . . . Then the next five, and so on to include all of them. I was in a daze. I knew we had done this honestly, but I was unaware how it worked. I scratched my head, and looked up to my master sergeant helper. He just smiled.

Is this all of your hand receipt files.” The inspector asked.

“Yes sir.” I said respectfully. I was telling the truth, yet they did not ask, and I could not tell about the anything unsigned . . . Sometimes, just the surface appearance is good enough! I thought.

We passed the I-G inspection! We were jubilant! I still consider it a miracle, but my master sergeant help must have simply set it up that way — like the unlikely angels we live with every day, all things still work together for good!

A THIRTY DAY MID-TOUR VACATION

The major was pleased how we managed the miracle of passing the inspection, and he didn’t want to know how we did it, but only that it was done, and done with honor. And, may I say, sometimes such honor is not humanly possible . . . but sometimes, it is.

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I was not reluctant to fly home to my family, no matter how dysfunctional we were. I made an all expense paid flight from Osan Air Base in South Seoul, Korea. I was not on duty status, and the large 747 transport was empty, having just delivered a troop cadre.

Wow! I had no idea how to do military space-available, but it was pretty cut and dried. You sign up and show your identification, and you are put in line for the next available flight. When arriving at Travis, I signed up for Texas. When in Arizona, I got a bus through New Mexico to El Paso. Then a medical flight to San Antonio was for doctors, that got me home.

I got home safely, and the children were so happy to see me. We celebrated. I spent all the money. I remember only three things, sleeping on park benches, and taking the children to the 5th US Army Headquarters to see the museum and all the animals. Oh, and eating out.

RETURN TO KOREA DELAYED

With a copy of my leave and orders to Korea, I began heading back to my duty station early enough to not be late, but it took much longer because of the troop movements going overseas — there was no space available, period. But eventually, a flight was chartered for us.

In the meantime, I got acquainted with a group of Christian Military fellows who could relate with local faith activities. So we all piled into a taxi and went to the off-post servicemen’s center, or one time, to a nearby Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church for a special Wednesday night service with a sister teaching. (ourladyofmtcarmelfairfieldca.org)

I don’t remember the topic of study, but I was impressed enough to remember the presence of the Holy Spirit. The teaching was anointed, and made a consoling impression on my unformed heart. God was there and wanted us to be included. He does such things happily. That was in a Catholic Church just west of the air base.

From that night, I learned to daily check in for flights, and when the day came to report in, and still no available single seat — I called Camp Stanley, and spoke to the First Sergeant directly. He was glad I called and would keep my assignment for me, not reassign my slot.

When the Air Force chartered a flight to pick up all us stragglers, I was relieved to get on board. We relaxed a little and were open for trying anything to get back to duty. I sat next to a Military Police investigator who was filled up with stories to tell. Some were funny!

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When we arrived at Osan Air Base, he was in a hurry to get us back together even to Camp Stanley. And in the terminal we ran into some pilots who said they might give us a lift. We didn’t hesitate. We piled into the back of a large truck, and laughed loudly.

The truck was way-laid to go across the runway around the terminal, and ran right into the commandant of the US Marines. His car stopped in front of us and the man wanted to see who we were. We were scared stupid, lined up, and reported smartly.

The full four star general was being given an inspection of the Marine Operations and the pilots we were with had no idea such a thing would be happening. We were dismissed to run out the nearest open gate and catch the first bus downtown . . .

My return to duty was an attempt to make up for lost time. I reported in to learn I’d be restricted to base for a week. I was relieved to hear that. Since I had no off base activity planned anyway. I was so glad to be back, even to catch up with my responsibilities.

My job was to lead the flight platoon who were assigned their own aircraft, and were capable of doing their job without my direct supervision. So, I was given a desk in an office, and tried to create what I needed to do to operate the platoon of mechanics . . .

MY TIME TO SHARE IN THE CHAPEL (Retelling of what happened in chapter six)

It was inevitable that with my regular chapel attendance, and teaching some bible studies, that the chaplain wanted to know my testimony, and if I might share it from the pulpit. Telling him my story was fine. But telling it from the pulpit was a challenge.

Good Sunday morning to you fellow soldiers.” I said beginning my testimony.

Some of you may know me and my service with the Marines in Vietnam. I was a document clerk in the large maintenance hanger at Marble Mountain Air Facility near Da Nang. And because of my aircraft military maintenance experience, I got combat pay to do paperwork.

“I was promoted to sergeant, but felt like my responsibility was not that important, until my boss, a senior master gunnery sergeant locked my heels, and told me he needed me to help him and that no one else in our maintenance squadron was qualified like I was.

“That helped motivate me. Until one day going on 4-months in country, I was asked to volunteer to train to become a door gunner. I jumped at the chance!” I said smiling.

The chapel congregation laughed and looked at each other as if they knew where I was headed.

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While in the training, two things happened: I had joined the chapel choir so my heart was into the chapel ministry, and acquaintance with the Chaplain, gave me the cause to have an hour long prayer-time every night. This commitment to prayer was consoling.

One noon lunch break, I was stopped short of entering the mess hall because my heart said to look at the view — this brought my mind to concentrate on what I was to see — the row of hooches clear down to the flight line. Then I heard ‘Go to the Marines; bring them to chapel.’

I entered the mess hall thinking about what just happened. Was my prayer devotion going to my head?” I said not thinking.

Everyone laughed.

The other thing was that a member of our chapel choir was killed. He was giving a check ride as an I.P. When they were hit by a rocket, and blown to bits.” I said somberly.

So that when coming to prayer that night, I let God have my emotional rejection.” I said.

Dear God, if that was you at lunchtime, showing me to go visit Marines for the Chapel. My heart can’t do that — I won’t do that! No God!” I said. Then added, “Hell no!

“I may not have realized what I was saying, but it was my honest feeling, and I think God respects our honest feelings.

The congregation was quiet but they were listening.

“When two weeks gunner training was over, I was told to report to the armory of the HMH-463rd Squadron, to pickup weapons and ammo, then hop onto the waiting aircraft ready to go. I suited up with helmet and gloves. Reported, signed for hardware, and double timed to the noisy, turning up aircraft. (Wearing helmet and gloves.)

I jumped onto the ladder, and entered the large cargo bay where the crewchief greeted me. ‘Go to the left hatch and gun mount!’ So I followed his directions, mounted my machine gun at the hatch, plugged into the intercom, and waited for a load order. We took off.

“We flew up the sunny coast at around 200 feet, and I was told to load, and test fire my weapon. Two rounds and it jammed. I waved for the crewchief to clear my gun, and he did easily. The rest of the flight went smoothly viewing the northern I Corps sunny sea coast.

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MY CHAPEL CRASH MESSAGE

We flew right by the large French city-fort called Hue (pronounced Way), and approached the US Army Ammo Dump. There was no fly around. It was assumed by me that this was routine for the pilot, yet my first (and only) combat mission. We slowly settled down for hover and hookup.

“The crewchief was supervising through the hatch in the cargo deck. I was adjusting my mike (on my helmet) and took off my gloves. I was not watching the tail rotor like I should have. And we began to lift up, and the weight of the heavy howitzer rounds brought the tail rotor into the revetment.” I said with slowing my delivery.

“The tail rotor pylon was sheered off with a loud noise and shaking. When the pilot tried to steady our hover, the torque forces of the main rotor began to take over. We had to go down. The vibration of impact caused my left femur to fracture. As we slid down when the deck tilted, I realized I could not walk out the aft escape route.

“The dust from all the huge blades impacting caused complete blackout. Then tiny flames sprouted from every wire on the entire bulkhead (floor). Then I heard ‘Go to the light!’

Hearing that helped me to lean over onto the back of crewchief, and slide over him as he was unhooking the pilot — the sunlight was shining through the broken window — that got me headfirst onto the avgas-burning ground. I heard again, ‘Go to the light!’

“With all my strength, I leaped like a burning one-legged frog out of the flames, to collapse in the cool sand, but could go no further. It was then, I said, Father! Save me or take me home! Just then, the pilot came running and yelling, ‘Get up Marine, run!’

“No sir, I can’t! Leg’s broken!”

The pilot came over to me, leaned down and grabbed my shoulders,

You try as hard as you can, and I’ll try as hard as I can and together we will get out of here!” He said

“His help was just enough to get us both to a foot from the top, and the first shell exploded pushing us to safety. We laughed in the joy of our salvation, I said the Our Father, And we were helped away from the burning 200 tons of shells as it would burn for three days.”

I finished my remarks, and sat down. The chaplain finished the service, and dismissed.

[end of part two, part three is linked here] (details of unfaithfulness omitted due to shame.)

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PART III – The next sub-assembly life, Marriage to Vivian

(Vivian’s characature is Lucy van Pelt from Charles Schultz’ Peanuts, my own drawing and photo–permitted by fair-use provision of US Copyright Law–nothing stolen with credits)

CHAPTER TEN – How it happened my life was recovered

VOLUNTEER CHAPLAIN’S ASSISTANT, RETURN TO SANITY, MY HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM, VIVIAN FINDS LOVE.

When I chose to be released from active military service, several things went wrong. My assignment to Fort Hood, and the sister-unit of the same medical company that sent me overseas for a year tour in Korea, from Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, I arrived in Fort Hood as a damaged soul. (The result of divorce and family — permanent separation of four children.)

You see, I was promised the return assignment to the base where my family was housed. But they thought going back to the 3rd platoon, was the same location as the rest of the company. At first I was confident it could be changed, but when Helen wanted a divorce because of my (detailed) report of infidelity, I lost hope and honestly felt unworthy to even be a parent.

The bus trip to Fort Hood was painful, because I loved my children. The oldest were 12 and 12: Sarah Joyce, and William Charles (adopted), 9: Patricia Lynn, and 6: Bargene Danette. Our separation was damaging for all of us. My mindset was accepting responsibility for failure.

But my heart was wounded and fearful that I was on a slippery slope to hell. I needed more than love and affection, I needed to get back into good grace with God. How could I accept divorce from a godly wife he had given me, she was “sinless“; I had to respect her choice. (jesusiscreator.org)

When arriving, grouped as new assignees, I was directed into the reception center where we heard the most beautiful welcome — an appeal to repent and believe the Gospel anew. That made me feel a new sense of hope. When asked to pray for receiving Christ, I realized I had fallen from my Baptist faith. But here was God greeting me, where he wanted me.

The couple who led that welcome, was a young newly-married couple from the base chapel program. They helped me. I had served as an officer for three years, and chose to return to enlisted duty, rather than go back to civilian status. The chapel on Fort Hood was helpful.

I cannot justify my actions, but I was conflicted. My heart wanted to return to Christ, but my soul wanted the familiar married relationship. When arriving at the Third Platoon at the airfield, I met the clerk who greeted me openly, as I was fresh meat, and fell into the trap.

I had been promoted to E6 Staff-Sergeant when in Korea, so I felt better relations with soldiers than when an E4 (nothing). Still, I got a job to work part time making pizzas. Then I dated the platoon clerk. She was most accepting of my friendship. You know, whatever . . .

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I regret having been in such a compromising position. Such an adulterous relationship had nothing to do with my recommitting to God. Yet the couple from the chapel program kept in touch, and followed up with an invitation to fellowship get-togethers. Angels they were.

One ‘fellow’ whom I got to know–a young musician from the base marching band. He was a pastor’s son, who was a compassionate friend, to sympathize with my situation — just what I needed! He was a tall Navigator, a member of the ministry group from Colorado Springs.

We planned to take a trip together on leave and attend a Nav-conference. What a refreshing trip that was. Just to travel up to the Nav Headquarters, hear inspirational leaders teach us many practical helps, and rent skis for a wonderful skiing holiday. God drew me back.

The fellowship, food and devotions did a marvelous work to my soul. And, because I was strapped with child support — I could not even pay for a meal. The kind of person who was much further along in his disciple program than I was — but I was “on board” as trainee.

The wonderful thing about the Navigators, to me, is they’re a world-wide organization. wife and I, met them on Okinawa, and I met them in West Germany. Their conference in Germany was special because of the timing. I had just completed 3rd Army NCO school at Bad Toelz.

The story then was to carry my rifle, in uniform, heading back to the 582nd Transportation Company at Sandhofen, Coleman Barracks. A Navigator just happened to contact me on the train, and invite me to the conference he was going to. I was drafted. God’s grace was there!

VOLUNTEER CHAPLAIN’S ASSISTANT

Meanwhile, back to Fort Hood, I became mature enough to attend chapel alone, and was introduced to the chaplain who was somehow impressed with me enough to ask if I would teach a Sunday School class for adults. That got me praying and helped boost my confidence.

I remember teaching First and Second Samuel, using a Chronological Bible that really helped me put the characters in context for a sort of dimension that sparked life into the stories. I did so well that when Reforger Exercize in Europe came along, the chaplain asked me to go.

It was a special moment for me to become a temporary chaplain assistant. It was a royal tour German people pay money to see. I took my own typewriter and wrote the worship service programs, helping where needed. It was comical how much this was like the movie, MASH.

The 1st Medical Group procured the huge medical units that inflated and we’re sterilized sections, and linked together like the modern field hospital that was needed for the training. I became sick with the flu and had to be a patient. Still the Army Exercize went like clockwork.

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When there was a break from training, the chaplain invited me to travel with him to the kookoo-clock capital of the world: Triberg, a city in the Black Forest of Germany. The trip was healing for me. I helped my boss, a Major, find his gift for wife and family. We relaxed.

Sometimes we can find ourselves in an all-together, unfamiliar environment. This was one of those times. No schedules to keep, no plan to follow, no impossible goal . . . just to wander from shop to beautiful shop, seeing unusual, even rare sights. And we snacked as we went.

Have you ever vacationed in a far away land that lulled you and lured you away from reality so that when returning to your duty station, you suddenly woke up fresh and invigorated? That was what that European military exercise as chaplain assistant did for me. I loved that!

RETURN TO SANITY

The return to Fort Hood via the Boeing 767, was special. Seventy passengers fitted into a space behind the pilot’s cockpit, yet above the large cargo hold–stowage of vehicles, portable inflatable units, all designed and self-contained to be ready for quick transport and setup.

When heart-healing was complete, and I could perceive my life-path more clearly, I wasn’t motivated to stay in the Army. When I was nearing tour completion, I knew my heart was not into what was happening: uniform changes, billeting changes, dual status, women soldiers.

I was very disappointed about the failed rescue attempt by US Army Delta Force in the Iran hostage of 52 embassy staff held captive by the Ayatollah Khomeini. A sand storm popped up to foil the attempt — 8 servicemen were killed, and aircraft were destroyed. Humiliating!

I was planning to leave the Army and move back to Fort Worth, Texas. I painted a larger than life portrait of Smiling Jesus as a gift for our chapel fellowship leader-couple, which they were pleased to have. And painted a Caution! Holy Spirit Impact Area sign for (band) friend.

Also, I forgot to mention, at the platoon picnic where I sat at table with our platoon commander, Captain Gerald Nolan, he told me some good news, that I was promoted to Reserve Captain. This was a surprise, and, I guess, a reward — even if getting out . . .

The transition worked this way: Within weeks of outprocessing, there was an employer from Fort Worth who came to speak devotionally at the Killeen Christian Servicemen’s Center. He was alone, a SWBTS grad, who gave a great introduction, of himself and his ministry.

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After his talk, we sat down with coffee and some cake, and he spoke some more about working as a printer apprentise. I was very impressed, and felt I was able to do what he described. I agreed to pray about it, got his phone number and promised to call him.

I called him at his shop within days, and he hired me. He understood my situation and wanted to help. I worked several months, learned the job, saying I was not interested in dating, until one day in prayer, I was shown how man was not made to be alone.

It was funny how I received such spiritual admonition, and as soon as I shared it with the boss, his wife offered her server-friend as a first date. And, that date led me to the church singles group, and there, I met, and was attracted to Vivian Ann Perdue Martindale, a beautiful single-parent — interesting and interested, six years younger, thirty-five.

That’s all it took. We attended enough singles meetings to exchange numbers, and we connected by phone, and by home visit. We were married within two months of knowing each other. I moved in. Her children were happy because I appeared willing to do something with them. We took some materials from my workplace to build a clubhouse in their yard.

Before we were married, I did pray and heard from God.

She needs you as her helpmate more than you need her.” God said, and I understood that, so I primarily submitted to be her helper — I knew she had young teenaged children. Her beauty is my excuse, her willingness to relate intimately was God’s saying, Be discrete, but comply.

Vivian was a beautiful bride. Our marriage was performed in the singles’ group place, called, The Overcoming Faith Center in south-central Fort Worth. The associate pastor officiated, and his wife, and an angel witnessed. It was a valid marriage. (She was employed in the ministry.)

Her job was cashier for a large local ministry called, Kenneth Copeland Ministries. She worked weekdays, while the children attended a closer school that was the attraction she wanted to provide for the children, since they moved from Alabama the year before meeting me.

My job of printing press apprentice was sufficient to bring me to the big city where I was capable to do more. One day at Vivian’s workplace devotional, she met with a counselor who told her of his vision of her situation: “General Dynamics” (Words marching around her).

So we looked that up and I reported to the Texas Employment commission where I was given an appointment to speak with a supervisor. That interview was magical. I was hired because I remembered the training about hydraulics at LTV (Ling Tempco Vaught) as test technician.

Our relationship was the catalyst that got me the career move of my life. We were living just a few houses away from another supervisor who drove a van to work, and I was welcome to ride with him daily. (I was blessed to know such a godly man.) A perfect set-up it was.

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Vivian was a good Bible teacher for her children. She led them in prayer often. I had just learned to pray in the Holy Spirit, and their demonstration was a joy. A friend of another local ministry, I was able to receive the gift of tongues. As a Baptist, I was not able to get it.

MY HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM

It was when working with SOS Ministries, that the boss let me use his “company car” to travel to visit my children. We had spent the morning driving and walking around their school and apartment dwelling place. We shared a big lunch, and returned to their place for a nap.

It was during the peacefulness of the moment. All the girls slept together in their room, while I was resting with my son. It was a God moment, and I recognized that my heart wanted the Spirit baptism. There were times when I tried praying with others to receive it, and failed.

Because of the Pentecostal teaching I was exposed to at that point, I knew to do two things: To simply ask in prayer, and, to believe (accept-receive) that as God promised this, He would make happen. This thought was captivating my mind sufficiently that my soul had to pray.

Heavenly Father, please show me how to ask you and to believe I receive . . . “

That was a start. The mechanics of doing this was important to me, and I understood the pure nature of the teaching. It is supposed to be so simple that we miss the promise. Jesus taught, ‘Ask and you shall receive.’ Then, ‘If you ask in faith, not doubting, you can move mountains.’

I asked. Then I thought about what’s required to believe . . . to pray in “tongues”.

I simply opened my mouth and began softly whispering — my tongue moved and my understanding took a back seat (not needed here). Only sounds of “gibberish” with clear syllables . . .

Cahba habe too kay whita belot ame sootoo may.” I said softly.

I was therefore baptized in the Holy Spirit — to praise God in a heavenly language. My heart was using my mouth, while my brain was relaxing.

The next day, attending the nearby Gambrell Street Baptist Church, I shared my experience with the associate pastor and got a really strong rejection.

No Chuck! We can’t do such things here — we don’t believe it, and can not teach it!” I heard him say that, and realized I was no longer a Baptist. That’s what I got for visiting the Overcoming Faith Center and dating Pentecostal women: Overcoming Penticostal Faith!

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My transition from the military to civilian life was very graceful. It was the right decision to make, and God sent his angels to make it happen. A new start. And new starts always mean starting all over again at the bottom. It was tough, but through it all, it was definitely worth it.

God granted me the use of a car, even the gas for it. When married, the car was replaced with Vivian’s humble Ford Pinto. It was a miracle for her and three kids to travel all the way from Florence Alabama. But, similar to me, she received God’s direction to make the journey.

She had been divorced from a very resourceful person, who worked as a city accountant. They had a nice house in a very attractive residential area. Their marriage failed similar to mine. Adultery raised its ugly head when her husband desired a workmate: He divorced her.

Because her directions were from what she heard broadcast over the Christian radio, she knew to do like I did coming to Texas. She showed up at the school with funds for her children to attend — obedient to the broadcast invitation from the pastor, Rev. Jerry Savelle she prayed and took the first step in faith. God honors such needy-trusting faith.

VIVIAN FINDS LOVE

Once the children were provided that special Christian schooling, someone at the school gave her an inside leading to apply for work at Kenneth Copeland ministry that associated with the school: a healing Gospel teaching, that came out of the Oral Robert’s Crusades. (YouTube.com)

She got work at a starting position of opening letters, sorting their contents, and recording their contributions. That done well, she was promoted to cashier. Her job led her to ask for prayer for me, and our marriage, and a better paying job. Christian workplaces do pray.

The point of prayer in all our lives is to share God’s limitless love and mercy. The charity of the churches we belong to use the charity as channels to offer the needy hope. We were given our chance to live and work always with the Good News in the ready mode, prosperously.

Once when dating Vivian, she handed me a 50-dollar bill, for me to pay for our meal,

There’s more where that came from.” She said.

I have always remembered that statement for it’s encouraging faith. God knows our every need. And we can and should rely on Him to fill it.

She ministered to me, actually more like a mother, because of being her growing children’s mother, and yet, when her lead faltered, I picked up and led for all–we strengthened each other. I followed them into Pentecostal faith, they helped me work a better-paying career.

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Chapter Eleven – LIFE WITH A GODLY WOMAN

LIFE WITH A GODLY WOMAN, VAUGHN DRIVE IN BURLESON TEXAS, MEANWHILE BACK TO VIVIAN, AN AVID GARDNER AND TELEPHONE JOCKY, GARDEN OF PLEASURE.

My commitment to Vivian Ann Perdue might be described as five member team: Primarily as a parent with her, and three children. I do understand the importance of godly parents — their influence is so important! I witnessed all three were baptized, by even Acts 2:38. (Bible.com)

The promise of the Penticostal baptism, is better than Baptist teaching, because it is also “in Jesus’ name”, and brings deliverance from sin. Baptist baptism has no salvific virtues, but gets you in the gate of the Kingdom. The Catholic Church accepts all Trinitarian baptisms:

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

This phrase is mandatory, and includes the phrase, “And in Jesus’ name”, which seems redundant, but takes Acts 2:38 literally. “For in Him (Jesus) dwells the fullness of the godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9, Bible hub.com)

The children were schooled within the auspices of the church which broadcasted their program that reached Vivian’s listening-heart in Florence Alabama. She purchased a used car for the trip, and drove 750 miles, similar to my exodus from California. (See part one)

It may not be fair to compare our life-experiences to arrive together at the same place, but it may be how God worked to bring His will into our lives. And we are not all perfect enough to comprehend such conclusions: God alone is perfect and He alone works his will in us.

VAUGHN DRIVE IN BURLESON TEXAS

During the early years, we lived on Vaughn Drive in Burleson Texas. We had to move there because the Ann Lois rent-house was sold out from under us. (It happens to the best of us, I like to say.) But the landlord was kind to us, and we easily accepted the newer arrangement.

We acclimated to the new address, although I had to walk several blocks to the shopping center for the van ride to work as before the move. But the walk was good for me. The van stopped at the local coffee house. We enjoyed sharing men’s work and church stories.

My memory of life at Vaughn Drive was the first years of our young marriage that I consider as foundational. I remember planting shrubs in the backyard along the back fence together. We spent some devotional times with the children in the big room together.

Those years were a blessing to the boys when they got early models of computers, and learned to play computer games. They were not athletically inclined, but they really loved their computers. The daughter was athletic and excelled in volleyball. Then came a TV.

I remember installing a TV antenna by a drilled hole through the wall next to the sliding-glass door and installing a weather seal that worked better than I thought. Devotions went away.

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I remember a time when I walked all the way home from work. It took a couple of hours. Finally, on the back road to Burleson, (mercy) stopped to give me a lift. Living in Texas is like that, people are helpful, friendly, courteous and kind — all for the Boy Scout motto!

I was upset about something that made me accept such a punishment. I deserved being left behind because of my attitude of stubbornness. Vivian was with the children, getting them all home. She was able to fix their supper without me. My absence was excused, until I arrived.

Where have you been, Chuck?! She yelled as I walked into the house finally.

“I walked home.” I said.

What? From the plant?”

“Oh, I needed the exercise. Walking is good for you, you know.” I said defensively.

Right, even fourteen miles?” Vivian was clearly upset at me.

We need to talk.” She put down the towel from cleaning up and motioned for me to come with her. The children were watching television.

We excused ourselves from the presence of the children.

I knew I was in trouble, what could I say? I lost track of time and missed the van? Then why was I willing to do that?

I remember this only happened once.

You can tell me whatever it is that kept you from catching the ride home you have paid for, please tell me.” Vivian said as she closed the bedroom door for a moment of privacy.

Honest, I did nothing wrong, the time slipped away, I was busy, and you know there are no bells in the offices. Yes, I have a phone, but when I realized I missed the van-ride home, I knew I was in trouble. . .

“So, being the rough-tough ex-Marine, I am, I chose to hoof it.” (Slang for forced march.)

Vivian was clearly not satisfied. So I stood up and slowly reached for her embrace, and we hugged. Finally her tension left her body, and she felt better.

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Our lives together as a family began to normalize, Viv with her counting cash all day, her children with their Overcoming Faith school, and me and my salaried job as tech writer. Because the children were in Christian school, we were less religious at home.

We were comfortable and dreamed of sugar-plums — everything was honky-dory until I got a phone-call from Dad. He sounded weak and tried asking . . . why he called. I had not heard from him since Christmas card, he wanted me to get him into a happy death mode.

I responded complaining that he missed his chance for heaven long ago. (I was way out of line.) And he hung up.

Ouch! Man did I miss my chance to express some small amount of gratitude for all he had given me. Two weeks later, my sister called saying he had died.

I did try to apologize. Writing a card with a short message of hope, but Barbs said she found it in the waste basket — unopened. I was guilty of all sins against my dad. He was always a blessing to me. And when he needed my blessing, I wasn’t there for him.

Well, I did what I was told to do by a fellow worker, I asked for family bereavement leave of three days off, flew to California, was picked up by a nephew and delivered to Sonoma, after calling home and sister of my safe arrival. I stayed the night in Petaluma, dreaming Sonoma.

The next day, the close family rendezvoused around Barbs and me. She was the executor of Dad’s will, she made the call for his remains be picked up at the hospital and delivered to a mortuary for final processing. We sat around toasting to Dad with his wine to remember him.

There was no funeral, no eulogy and no arrangements. It was Dad’s choice to be cremated and then his ashes to be cast out over the ocean, which he arranged for by a small company with aircraft to do this sort of mission. Everybody trusted Dad’s will was to be carried out.

This was 1987, after six years into our marriage, and a year before we moved from Vaughn Drive. I was a salaried employee, and transfered into coordination for manufacturing and planning departments. Just before Rob graduated high school and left us for Alabama.

The error we made with the children — but we had no choice — because of the terms of her divorce. Every summer was spent at their Dad’s place in Mussel Shoals Alabama. They were good children, but their summers were more sacred than school. When graduating, they were gone. After Rick graduated, he left home and his mom, just like I had done.

But my children had no place to run away to, except maybe college.

One time, all my children came over to spend a day and night with us which exwife Helen had to request especially, for her effort to explore romance. Seven children played soccer on the front lawn. Billy was roughed up. He fractured a rib. I vowed it to never happen again.

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In 1988, with the inheritance we received from Dad, we contracted the building of our dream house, and within a short three months, moved into it with Terry Martindale, the youngest remaining child. Rick Martindale graduated successfully along with Patsy Lynn Bundschu.

The event of moving, had to mean having resources with which to buy new furniture and many wall hangings. Vivian’s new nest was her project which I was able to support. (The amount of our inheritance enabled us to tithe the ten percent, nine thousand plus dollars.)

Terry was still a junior in high school that required payment, and we wanted to help another parent pay for their child’s attendance. That brought Vivian a friend for life. Terry played volleyball and had many friends, but began dating someone from a public school.

My son Billy, had healed from his injury, but suffered from my failure to visit with him. He was arrested and jailed for associating with wrong friends. I bailed him out, and had him move into our house on Vaughn Drive. (Before we moved) He wanted to leave, we let him.

[Billy’s story is for him to tell you, as he is on Facebook, and doing well in Fort Worth.]

Terry was the last one to leave our small family. She had some rebellious challenges. She painted her room all black. She did it, we got the paint, having no idea where she was going. She got some rock music. It was from her brother Rick; they loved U2, a radical rock band.

She started dating some unknown guy from another metroplex town. One night she didn’t come home. She called saying she was alright, and couldn’t tell where she was — and not to call the police. We were upset, but we could pray and trust God to deliver her. He did thankfully.

I enjoy the memory rather when she had a wonderful date for the Junior Prom. She posed for the school yearbook, as and we enjoyed showing that portrait to friends. Then, Terry went to be with her dad for summer break. It was her decision to stay there and finish high school.

It is a mystery how this played out: Terry found her way back to live with her boyfriend. We learned about it from her dad. We searched for her, prayed, and searched some more. It was a hard time. Her welfare was our concern. She was in our mind just a helpless little girl.

It turned out, her situation did not happen like she wanted. So we tried to rescue her. We picked her up where her friend let her off. We never learned who that was, but we found her safe, and felt our prayers were answered. She could not go back to her high school class.

So, Vivian and I plotted to return her to her dad, forcefully if necessary. We were not able to control or trust her as a young trustworthy adult — even though she was employed by MacDonald’s (Restaurant) and we trusted her there. That may be the source of her problem.

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But both of her brothers were there (at MacDonald’s) before her; and she learned from them as they were successful. She wanted what they had, but she was different and could not really do what they did — her being there played out differently — she attracted trouble.

Our attempt to capture her and return her to her dad did require force. We were all in the car, and we set out for Alabama, a 700 mile trip across three states. We stopped for gas, and Terry jumped out, ran around the building and hid in the grass. We almost panicked.

As soon as I realized what was happening, I stopped the pump at full, and ran after her. She was really devious, and I could not find her. Having crossed the field of tall grass, I looked back and said a prayer,

Lord, help me find her!” (My guardian angel heard me and got her to show herself.)

Just then, she stood up. I was mad, and wanted to impress upon her how I felt. I grabbed her by the shoulder, thinking to slap her on the side of the face. But I misjudged as coming up, and hit her on her ear. Her ear drum ruptured causing great pain. That was a big mistake. (I have had that happen to me in a diving accident, so I know something of what she felt.)

She was fighting mad, and resisted my every effort to hold her. I got her in the back seat of the car holding her squirming person. Vivian drove us on the first leg of the long trip. She took Terry to the restroom, since she knew we weren’t playing with her. She calmed down.

Our traveling to Larry’s house in Tuscumbia, near Mussel Shoals, Alabama was not a pleasure to make, but we felt we did the right thing. Larry thanked us, and assured us we were not to worry. She would go to a local public high school in Florence. We made up.

Driving back to our home in Texas, and my job, we stopped at a favorite state rest area, at Gray Lake. The hiway (Interstate 40) passes over the finger-shaped island on the lake and makes a beautiful picnic area with a single access road out and back. We parked easily . . .

The scenery of the pines and cedars with maple trees all along the central road enabled the picturesque view of the large lake. It was enough to take our breath away. We actually cried as we sat there in the peaceful setting. We felt thankfulness to God for his blessed help.

Terry did finish her education at the Public High School for her senior year. Her social life improved, and she kept in touch with us and her Dad, but she hasn’t married, nor wanted to. She has three wonderful nephews and a niece to bring along, following her to adulthood.

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My work as salaried played itself out. My duties were varied and sundry like filing serial numbers for final assembly components (wings and horizontals and vertical stabilizer); keeping track of tooling, inspect special parts, track-down manufacturing status: duedate.

I was able to walk the entire length of the plant to ask anyone and everyone about the manufacturing progress. The computer systems weren’t reliable enough, so the boss sent me out to meet the responsible supervisors and report back . . . I was able to walk or ride.

MEANWHILE BACK TO VIVIAN

While concentrating so hard at work, I neglected Vivian’s situation. She was home alone. There were lady friends whom she befriended and tried keeping in touch with. She wasn’t happy. Her friends had their jobs, and less time. On weekends we shopped.

Our favorite pastime was to travel throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropole in search for the very best prints. They were a huge variety, and quality priced. It was like a museum in perpetuum. We focused on florals and favored a few fine artists. It was fun, but not forever.

We noticed on the back of all we picked up was the distributor located in North Central Alabama. That was a leading sign that we finally realized when moving to Alabama. (Believing there is no such thing as coincidence with God.) But Vivian had a problem.

Around the time the boys were graduating from college, Vivian wanted to have her cleft palette repaired. We had great insurance to cover it, but it was a very complex procedure. She had bone taken from her hip. And she had to have a blood transfusion.

She recovered well from that operation. I was sitting in the waiting room of the downtown hospital, praying in the Holy Spirit. For an hour or so, I read all the magazines and knew I needed to do something more. My praying gave me thoughts to begin writing for God.

So I got up, checked out with the nurse, and walked down the street to a drug store. I was led to an aisle where the composition books and stationery materials were displayed. I picked up several items and checked out, then checked back into the surgical waiting room.

Vivian was under the knife for five hours. I had prayed till I knew she was going to recover. Then I began writing. I had taken a course in fiction at the community college south campus. So I had some idea what to do. That made the time fly. Vivian was in recovery two hours.

She recovered like a new person. Her smile was weak at first, so complete rest was given to her. Her friend was able to visit her as that was her great need. And I returned to work. She wanted more of me than I could give. And work needed more of me than I could give.

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That may be the reason, secondarily, that we chose to retire early. (See Part Four, below) As we hoped that moving closer to family, she would find less loneliness, and more togetherness. My companionship was helpful for only the first two years of retirement. But before leaving the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex, we agreed to have more medical work to her face: Nose-job

I am not complaining here, but I never knew her nose was a problem for her. She got an appointment with one of the best plastic surgeons in Dallas. He told her that her nose could use some improvement. Basically, functional — her breathing was restricted, plus, he could help the appearance to be more classic. Well, it was like magic! She was more classic!

Vivian had two more surgeries that I failed to mention, one with a urologist, for her hysterectomy, and another for a blood clot in her leg. Both were done in the same hospital southwest of Fort Worth. She was given another blood transformation, but wrong blood type.

She was then diagnosed with a blood anomonily called cold agglutinin. A rare disease that enables the body’s immune system to attack red blood cells. (Rarediseases.info.gov)

Needless to say, Vivian has some problems, yet she is faithful in resisting them with her doctors and staff we have grown to love and support. We use paydays and doctor visits as times to celebrate together. Life is worth celebrating, and we do it when we can.

VIVIAN IS AN AVID GARDNER AND TELEPHONE JOCKEY

Every year we manage to care for potted plants and she busies herself with indoor decorative planters that contain colorful florals. We now live 3-miles from a Hobby Lobby store, she manages to weekly visit that store and either buy or return something . . .

When we moved from Vaughn Drive to Glenoak Drive (Burleson, Texas), we had great fun doing the landscape ourselves. The lot was already filled with Live Oak trees, and building in them required deciding which ones we wanted to save and how close the house to allow.

The yard was my project, while the house and furnishings were her project. Well, when I left the great salaried positions where there was no weekend work, returning to hourly helped with increased income, but at the cost of more time away from our lovely nest.

The children gone away, we had to try relating to neighbors and there was no real advancing with the young couple in the house next-door. The case in point was our mailbox. We decided to locate it between our driveway and their property line. We actually disputed that line.

The survey of our property line and the curb near our brick mailbox was illusive because of the angle which was lined up with our fence, which was mutually determined with them. But when standing at the curb, honestly looked wrong. The angle made the mailbox appear off.

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The neighborly people next door to the east, were more resourcefully open to us and inviting. We actually got to see inside there home — whereas we never invited them to visit our home. There may be reasons for this, but I wasn’t motivated to make it priority. It was mutual.

Vivian was given grace by God and me to do or not do the social scene. If she wanted family, she planned for family events. My children never came over — except once when Sarah Joyce did come to our front door. I admit I was not cordial. She came, she saw, and she left.

Doesn’t life have a way of coming at us when least expecting it, or whatever. I was occupied with more of myself, my work, my purpose in living — all things all people occupy when filled into prime activity and pleasurable living: Eden, in Hebrew, means, Pleasure.

OUR GARDEN OF PLEASURE

The life-routine Vivian and I had assembled together, included her children certainly more than my own. First of reasons for this was my dismissal by their mother, whom I believed was their best parent to raise them: She did get her college degree! Her kids are all okay.

No exceptions there. My adopted son suffered somewhat because the father he wanted was not always available . . . Workmates of mine at work, were actually acquainted with them at church; they asked me why I was not available, and how their role-model was substitutional.

I was remarried to a little smaller family and cared as much for them. (How can someone discriminate between innocent children — if only from a wounded heart) One time Helen asked me for an amount of money above and beyond child support payments. I was not willing even to buy school clothes for one daughter let alone three. This was sad . . .

My life was being stretched in a family of two wives and seven children, so I needed to determine some priority. If I cannot be responsible for all of them, then I needed to favor my present relationships, and leave the former ones to God. [God’s favor is far better anyway.]

Once a system of needful priorities was established, our life in this world, alone together, was reasonably workable. I say this only because of conjugal expectations were a bit overwhelming to me. Working overtime meant some relief at home — no pressure, right?

I was happy to retire from a really great occupation that I believed was important as helping our national defence. That was a break from former relationships that were stressful; while such a move to Alabama was definitely a positive. We cleaned up and quickly sold the house.

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Chapter TWELVE – Our Trial Separation

TRIAL SEPARATION, MEANWHILE BACK TO VIVIAN, SCOOTER-BOOTER STORY, LAY-OFF FROM GD, CALL-BACK, OUR WORKMATE PRAYED AND DIED, ANOTHER FUNERAL, MY BEST ASSESSMENT FAMILY PRODUCT, MEANWHILE BACK TO VIVIAN, WHAT HAPPENED TO RICK? FAILURE TO BE PRESENT, HIND-SIGHT 20/20 OR NOT, HUGE LESSON FROM GOD, SEX ABUSE ALLEGATIONS, FAITH THAT COMES FROM GOD’S LIPS.

At this point I can wake up to memories of what our marriage went through and how that experience was strengthening — reinforcing our personal commitment to each other. Every marriage has to go through this. We weren’t expecting this, but things worked out . . .

While we lived at Vaughn Drive, and before Dad died, I walked away from Vivian and her household. This happened in early ’87, when I became upset and overwhelmed with our relationship; and when I got a cash award for suggesting some engineering changes.

One day I called the van operator to go home without me.

Hello Don this is Chuck.”

“Hello Chuck, what’s happening with you?”

“I’m calling to let you know I won’t be riding for a while, and starting tonight.”

“You won’t be with us tonight?”

“That’s right Don. I am taking a break from my Burleson family, and will let you know when we get back together.”

“Well, brother, I can understand, and my family will be praying for you. God bless you man.”

“Thank you Don. I will let you know about how I work things out.”

“Oh, please do man! I will miss your happy face!”

“Me too. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye Chuck.”

What I had in mind to do was to walk out of the plant main gate, walk up the hill where I saw some apartments, rent a furnished apartment, and shop at a local grocery. The walk was long, maybe a mile or more, but I managed that easily enough. I followed my conscience.

My apartment was small, but comfortable. I rested in the fact that it may be a sacrifice for a while, but it could help resolve our conflict. I think this is what exwife Helen learned to do with friendly workmate advice, move out! So, that was done. I was confident doing it.

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My eating alone, and walking everywhere on foot, alone, gave me time to think and pray . . . And pray and think. God was still in charge. If I am in trouble, he will deliver me. One time I walked by a restaurant, and I thought to look in their dumpster. I found some good food.

Not to prevail with that, I learned where my ex-family was living, and walked over to visit them. They were happy to see me. The children liked to walk too. Their rent-house was closer to her job, but in the city right next to the plant. Sharing some time with ex-family was good.

To help turn me around, I remember our old beloved music, and I had a chance to review some old albums we collected. I played my most favored from the Morman Tabernacle Choir. Onward Christian Soldiers was the album. I played it a couple of times: Tenting on the Old Campground is the one hymn that struck my heart deeply. I could relate to their sadness.

The inspiration of that one song by that one choir — at that time in my life, was a charge — a super-recharging that I needed! So, it wasn’t too long before, I learned the Fort Worth diocese was presenting a marriage seminar, Retrouvaille, “reviving life” was happening locally.

I called the diocese office and got all the particulars. Then I called my Dad. He agreed since it was my birthday soon, that he could help us with that. THAT was God.

I called Vivian and explained the Catholic answer to our problem — even if we didn’t understand our need to resolve any and all conflicts, she admitted it was complicated. I offered it to her and promised there is no strain, no pain — just a weekend plus follow-up.

She wasn’t that far away, and said she was praying for this to happen. The diocese officer explained the program was open to all faiths, and I assured we were both baptized. If that wasn’t good enough, the program was custom-designed for frustrated folks like us.

The host hotel was located close downtown, I called to confirm our part in attending the weekend retreat together, made the payment, and rendezvoued with Vivian. She was looking better than ever. I knew to try saying all the right things, and she was receptive.

Our time together for both days was spectacular. The presentations by obviously holy people (of the cloth, and wearing their habits), was exactly made to order for us — as only God could know to do. Every part was applicable and we willingly received: We recommitted agreeably.

We both stood up with all the other couples, to profess our faith in God’s will for our marriage. It meant a lot to us, and we felt our expression of thanks and our giving was unworthy — very much like all the good things God has to do for us. He was kind to us.

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Our marriage took a leap of faith as we had received a spiritual recharge. That was sufficient to get us beyond the decade of boredom or monotony. Which brings me to a memory of the van operation. Riding and driving the van was significant to end salaried employment. And back to the Mod shop I went . . . More overtime, more income.

Coming back to Living in Burleson. There was one more medical procedure Vivian had to have. When getting her hysterectomy, the gynecologist had to tie her bladder up to hold in place where there was no more womb to support it. This tying suture didn’t hold.

How complicated that repair might be is not even a consideration. She asked about it and her urologist said he does it with a minimum invasivness, so she submitted to his helping her. And the result was only a partial fix. She was disappointed, but felt that life with a leaking bladder was as good as she could get, though it ended our sex-life.

That feature may require some explanation beyond what I care to admit here, but the fact that all the support we found available for us was encouraging — we faced the facts of limitations and chose to accept the consequences. We still had a good relationship.

Vivian spent hours alone in our big dream house which we built following Dad’s passing. He had come through for us to pick up the marriage seminar cost we were unable to pay because of low salary, and he willed our providential inheritance.

While I was earning more for us by staying away and doing more work, she became lonely, and wanted more of me than I could provide. I prayed more at church and trusted God to take up the slack. This caused another health attack for her.

Did I mention the blood clot in her leg? Such an extreme eventuality caused an emergency that she called her friend to help her get to the hospital — she did not think it was that serious, but she could have lost her leg. The prognosis was drug therapy in the nick of time.

The result was her lower left leg got swollen with gout. This complicated her social life. She wanted me to drive her around all the time. Her dressing up was not happening. She needed to be taken out a lot more than I could make happen. I sought God more as our solution.

I left the house earlier to get to church and follow a deacon who prayed powerfully for an hour before going to work. That prayer-time was challenging. It opened my eyes to selfless prayer. It was right downtown, and some young people were drawn into it.

We all loudly prayed and walked around and through the large two-thousand seat theater-like auditorium. God was getting our attention! . . . Until, one popular young women was missing. The word on the street said she was murdered. That shocked me to guit going.

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[I am writing this necessarily because I am given the memory at this place in time-travel. That place was downtown Fort Worth between 1990 to 1994. I heard of the murderous event as only a rumor, like a word on the street — not confirmed, but in deep-heart movements, God-spoken.]

Weekly church attendance lends itself to doing more for God when learning even a small amount of his message. The nondenominational-pentecostal message is to get under good teaching, bring yourself and others into the family, and grow as you hear your heart.

Vivian and I had brought all her children up with the Calvary Cathedral School. We tithed our inheritance, as God had blessed us there. But my motivation was to be fair. Sure, God was good to all of us, so my thinking was to give God his ten percent, and he will give 90% to us.

That option is what is being taught, but it is really not fair. Fair is naturally more even, like fifty-fifty. However, that is not practical for young families like ours having to pay child support. We agreed in our hearts to tithe our inheritance. So we wrote the big check, and put it in the offering tray. Big mistake. I was asked to stand up and be publicly thanked. Not good.

My ex wife learned of our windfall, and made an emotional appeal to give her money for children school clothes. She had taken us to state court over paying three times more for the last child when the others reached 18. She used the child support to get her college degree.

I had a good job, and a good wife to handle our money. So I let it be. The state was happy, we paid our debt to society, and God granted us good insurance to pay medical costs. Our twelve years at Glenoak Drive was like a dream. But family was over. And the years passed quickly.

Had we the option to do it over, knowing what I know now, we needed to invest in a future savings and build upon it. Dad tried to explain such things, but I did not even hear how important that was. I confess I missed that opportunity to pay a wage to our own account.

We had about 20,000 dollars for furnishing our house. We were blessed to gain our needs, and we had fun shopping popular stores, and trying this and trying that. We bought and brought back one large wall hanging at least three times. The manager was really upset.

The painting was a still-life by the French artist Fabrice de Villeneauve. It was framed slightly off center because the potted flowers were arranged in a open cabinet that doors showed differently. (Linked to name, markovart.wordpress.com)

See the perfectly framed white tulips with streeks of red — a signature flower: the centering of the vase, beautifully arranged stems and interesting composition. There is a lot of details to look at – multiply times three, three different flowers.

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I admit we really stretched the principle of customer always being right. Three issues were, we carefully made efforts to hang the print where it was best displayed: End of long hall, over the console TV, or above the dining room service chest. First trial failed – reject . . .

We shopped all the Sample House stores in the Dallas Ft Worth Metroplex. Still, we did return the same print three times to the Ft. Worth Sample House. I was told, don’t do this again! I was embarrassed and so agreed. Still, if you have a receipt, whatever a customer wants.

About a month later, we received a letter from the owner of the stores with an apology and an offer to accept any print we want from the bigger store in Dallas. And, no hard feelings, we did shop and found the print we agreed we wanted. A $250. Value . . . (samplehouse.com)

If telling this story, and mentioning prices we paid sounds phoney, you are right. Because all we did together was indicating a total lack of interest in something of real value. Oh, we still have the prints, they are become a part of the fabric of our lives together: Our relationship.

Such a relationship is gaining in value with daily experience. Our memory is forgetting more as we live each day, week, month or year. The point of having to relate one on one, must rely upon our shared experience with trust. Life grows stronger with trust-issues resolved.

And this point of life’s priorities, is phenomenal. My thought is remembering the one person who most influenced me to live his kind of life, Dad. I don’t think of him like a bad person, because he showed me much favor, and yet, such favor was not viewed as filial love.

Dad raised me to honor and respect all people and pets. We shared more time together than I believed he shared with my sister Barbs. But when time came for her wedding, he favored her getting that, than helping me go to college. I accepted that as love for her she needed.

[I just learned some facts concerning our parents generation which heavily influenced them to believe and behave as secular atheists . . . EWTN recently replayed the video, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing and about Saul Alinsky’s book, Rules for Radicals. (Wikipedia.com)

“Called the Culture of Death, Marxism became Frankfurt socialism. This influenced the Institute for Social Research at Columbia University and it’s Critical Theory Strategy which led to Political Correctness; and revolutions of sexuality and socialism.” (Wikipedia.org)

Our parents were bombarded by atheism from every side. Sure we defeated the Nazis and Japanese imperialism, but Communism helped defeat Hitler, so Stalin began the slowly dumbing-down American society for Marxist socialism: Anti-Christian politics.]

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[The current events at the time of this writing, are showing more media coverage telling of the radical left expanding their numbers into and onto the gallery of the Senate chamber of our Capitol: (A minority resisting the majority threatening to vote their causes next month.) If politics doesn’t make sense any more, it’s about the fact that our Archenemy Satan is alive and well — he is smarter than we are. “The good are not in control of themselves or of their circumstances.” The Good Book by Peter Gomes, The Bible and Evil, page 261, Morrow 1996.]

MEANWHILE, BACK TO VIVIAN

Having lived with Vivian some 37 years, I want to relax and report all is well today, because our married life is more challenged than ever. Nothing new mind you, only differences in personality, intelligence, and education . . . All of which are blessings of humiliation.

Which brings me to the purpose of our relationship. To find the path of peace and stay on the path. God being both our helper and Leader. My devoted worship both morning and evening help me keep an even keel to be transporter and tour guide. I fail in everything else.

She needs me. That is enough to recommit to her daily. She has basically three motivations that keep her engine running: Being in touch with other women, she can talk for hours; family contacts, grand children especially; and moving her patio furniture around, daily.

Her connection to three women was a big plus. Basically, that fulfilled her prime human need for personal affirmation. She related with them before I came along. Their relationships are changing and losing their commonality. Two husbands died, the third lost to social elitism.

Dolly is her fondest friend memory. They met one another in their neighborhood of North Birmingham Alabama, across the back alley-way. Vivian went to dolly’s back porch to sit and wait for Dolly to come out. They liked paper dolls. Dolly never went to Vivian’s back porch.

Vivian was baptized in the local neighborhood Baptist Church, graduated from clerical school, and married the first man who asked her. Dolly joined a large, downtown Baptist Church, became a college student where she met and married a medical student.

Sherryl is a friend she shared high school with. She was also baptized Baptist, and went to work as a postal clerk, where she met and married her husband, Doug. They both retired as carriers, and suffered from repetitive tendon injuries . . .

Karen is a friend she met and held close when she had a part-time occupation as curtain installer/contractor, during her second marriage, and after having her third child. Karen moved away to country house with her husband who promised her happiness . . .

And, Kacey is a friend we met in Burleson Texas, at a small prophetic Pentecostal church. She gained more of a help for praying family health and common interests. Her husband was employed by the Southwestern Southern Baptist Seminary in their maintenance department.

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SCOOTER BOOTER STORY

It’s the name we gave to our new light truck. We found her on a small car lot across the hiway from the old Walmart store. She was an ’81 Diesel Datsun, and cute as a toy truck. Let me show you . . . Although silver, 2.1cc engine, standard floor-shift, and cost $1700 cash.

We needed the truck to build our fence around the new house, hauling all manor of materials. I built a redwood swing to hang on the back porch using plans we found in a magazine at the Home Depot. I drove this baby to work daily. Here’s a rear view.

Jim Steinhaur, a good hourly Christian friend who got photographed in the lot across from the main gate of Air Force Plant #4, operated by Lockheed Aerospace Company, Fort Worth, Texas. Notice he is holding his Holy Bible — we shared some lunch-studies together with Scooter.

Another favored memory was teaching Terry Martindale to drive a truck with Scooter Booter. She apparently really gravitated to it and her heart belongs to trucks and Jeeps, and men who drive trucks and Jeeps . . .

One day when driving to work, I over heated the engine driving 70 mph forgetting the oil change was past due, and: knock, knock, knock-nok-nok-nok-ok-ok-ok-k-k-k . . . Oh I was so sorry that happened. Engine replacement was not something we needed. Bye-bye Scooter!

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THE LAYOFF FROM GENERAL DYNAMICS

Before Lockheed Aerospace came along, General Dynamics had to go away. We managed to do some work, during that time. I even asked to be a greeter at Walmart. While there, I had a writer friend ask for my resume, and she took it to an interview she had found with the Texas State Employment Commission. And they called me also . . . it was 1994.

Working the greeter job at Walmart, gave me consolation to quit when closing at the end of second shift, knowing I had already been hired with the technical representative contractor of Bell Helicopter — the first company I applied to, at Hurst, Texas in 1976.

The way that happened was when a customer and wife came to the store front-door pushing a basket with the large carton on top that contained a children’s trampoline. They asked me to help them load their compact car. I instantly recognized a safety violation.

Please let me get you an approved dolly to get you to your car safely.” I said and left the door to get a dolly.

We spent the last hour searching for an associate to help us — and no one was available. We paid for this after wrestling this heavy carton to get it on top of this basket — we are not waiting any longer!” They demanded as I left them . . .

I quickly found a four wheeled-dolly, and returned.

They asked a younger associate to help load their car. It was quickly loaded, but the customer came to me all in a huff about reporting me to my manager. So I asked the head cashier to call for manager to come to my door. She did, and we waited.

The manager was indisposed. After the time for store closing, I chose to close my door, and leave. Then because I was hired as a Bell Helicopter subcontract tech writer, I took my badge off and turned it in — telling the lead cashier that I locked the door, and that I quit.

After a good night’s sleep, Scooter-booter and I returned to the store to settle things with the manager. She told me that customers are like that, and not to worry. That her report will say that I was leaving for a better job; and she said she recommends me to be rehired if needed.

The new job was just down my alley. The woman who delivered my resume was hired as a typist, while I might join the writer team. My experience with the Bell Huey UH-1 in serving with US Army medical evacuation teams across south Texas gave me a degree of confidence.

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Chapter THIRTEEN – Layoff and Call-back

Now having some employment security with the inclusion of professional associates from former assignments, I felt privileged to relate with familiar faces — both from church and work. God showed himself close to most of us — although my writing manuals was limited.

To review writing tech manuals for Bell Helicopter was for me a work of grace. I had served as US Army UH-1 mechanic and crew chief, but only familiar with military manuals, not the civil maintenance manuals. When finished, my work had to be edited. I understood that.

But for the latter time with the subcontractor, after the death of one associate, in the same room — I was asked to analyze their electrical engineer drawings, which, incidentally, I did much better with. I found all sorts of drawing errors to be corrected . . .

My experience of having a fellow writer collapse and die in the room where a dozen or so writers were quietly writing with me: I looked up to see Loe (short for Logan) rubbing his eyes, because he’d gotten new glasses, and complained how he couldn’t focus. He then turned around and fell straight onto his back in front of all of us. He had a stroke.

His final fall was loud. He hit the carpeted concrete floor with a SNAP! That was his body whipping the back of his head down hard — the sound was his scull cracking. He suffered a concussion because blood was coming out of his ears.

The call was made to emergency first-responders, and first-aid efforts were made to keep him alive. My thought was to plug his ears from losing his blood. But I thought again and realized how ineffective that is, damage being already done. I prayed silently watching from my chair.

Of course the room had to be renovated with new carpet, we were moved to another room and tried to work, but the shock of witnessing Loe’s passing played havoc with everyone. And the funeral helped some, as relatives shared how Loe was a believer and is in heaven.

God is always present in the hearts of friends and family when such eternal moments occur. I was there watching the whole tragic moment. Loe went quickly. What can be said here? He was an engineer, an accomplished writer, loving father and husband, and church leader.

[I am learning to serve home-bound church members with a small host called Eucharist. In that small piece of bread, because of the priest’s blessing, the Lord is present in it — and I am shown how to serve Him: Saying, the body of Christ . . . (“Eucharist” means, thanksgiving.)]

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CALL-BACK TO A NEWLY NAMED COMPANY

Many changes occurred during layoff from General Dynamics. The down-sizing of the corporation was given the option to sell the management of the plant of the US Air Force to an equally reputable company, like the changing of the guard. Lockheed Martin took over.

My work at the Bell Helicopter Subcontractor writing their civilian model, manuals was rewarding. I was actually given an interview and a tour of the Hurst, Texas facility — to be considered for a permanent writer position. I was grateful for that, but I had to go back.

Starting over with Lockheed Martin was just like a rehire. All the trappings of newness but with all the same people, yet change of second shift. And our job description was upgraded. As a plumber originally, my assembler classification was upgraded to all three functions.

I was assigned to the structure subassembly of the inlet beneath the cockpit. I learned to drill and check the hole-size for quality. If it was oversized, a quality inspector had to be called to look at how to correctly process an engineering fix. Here, I might explain the process:

A complex subassembly begins with materials formed in manufacturing, where, as a tour guide can show and tell, like I actually did, the huge forming machines that force plain metal sheets by hammering, tempering and quenching that helps reshape and de-stress metal parts.

The complex shapes and numbers of parts are delivered where needed to assemble. Then, by the numbers, a sequence of organized application upon the large jig-structure-tool that places each part solidly where it needs to be fixed for the correct order of drilling and riveting.

(I have a mechanical brain, and see that paragraph as breaking down or detailing an oversimplification of the large process of huge machines located in the big tool shop.)

About the time my structure skill was improving, I get another assignment to work third shift. That was wonderful, once we got adjusted to working six hours from 2330 hours to 0600 hours (1130 PM to 0600 AM), and get paid for eight hours! That meant more sleep!

Also more time with my spouse who, by the way, was really trying to help me through all the changes. And so this was when we traveled far and wide to bring our treasures home. Working weekends was a plus because of the time-and-half, and double pay . . .

Yet, one time we actually lost a cash deposit by attempting to deposit an entire week’s pay in the night depository. Big mistake! There was nothing anyone could do about it. It was our word against theirs. And we cannot sue a bank — we just gave it up to God, and forgave it.

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After our small diesel pickup went to heaven, which I really wanted to fix and completely disassembled the engine — but finally concluded it wasn’t worth the expense and trouble to rebuild it, I used another used car we had picked up, an ’89 Oldsmobile Cutlas sedan.

I don’t remember how we got that car. But we drove it until it wouldn’t drive any more. I remember getting just enough gas to drive it to the dealer we wanted. I think it died just after pulling into the Ford dealership where we saw the Explorer we wanted. God’s grace helped.

OUR WORKMATE PRAYED WITH US BEFORE HE DIED

One of our best Christian associates in final assembly had his lung collapse, so we visited him in the hospital. He was hooked up with oxygen tubes. We sat down to hear his story, and he did explain how he drove a cement truck during the layoff. Breathing cement dust got him.

His dying was sad. But his spirit was up. He had a strong faith along with his wife. We shared some time together. Since sharing some good times with our gang at work, their funeral was needed for all the assemblers who knew him. The union was also like family there.

ANOTHER FUNERAL

Mike and I attended another funeral. That was for the wife of one of our closest associates Dave, who buried Margaret, his wife. We both felt very saddened for his loss, and we committed to be there for him. She died of cancer and went gracefully.

[Suffering is relative to our faith. As we are the body of Christ, we are given a clue just how Jesus’ death was inclusive — his suffering included ours, into himself.]*

We were able to care enough to go out with our friend-workmate, Dave, to see the location of her grave with the marker he had had made with both their names carved in stone. We honored him as we would expect him to honor us if we were in his shoes. God rest her soul.

We went then to his house, which was a jesture as to where to leave him alone. He showed his dwelling place that contained all the wife’s stuff. Every table, counter, display case, mantle, or pedestal was filled with mementos . . . she lived a full and rich life.

[Can we imagine how the grace of a happy death works?]

*1521 Union with the passion of Christ. By the grace of this sacrament the sick person receives the strength and the gift of uniting himself more closely to Christ’s Passion: in a certain way he is consecrated to bear fruit by configuration to the Savior’s redemptive Passion. Suffering, a consequence of original sin, acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, permission by Libreria Editrice Vaticana.)

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Herein is some of my personal insights, that our lives more or less turn out as fruit of the family tree we were planted with and the conditions of and location of that family tree. Our family tree was blessed to immigrate from the old continent to the new. I am its middle fruit.

Hard to possibly imagine, I am fruit from the fourth generation from our distant ancestors. The fruit I help produce is four generations above me . . . think about this:

The first generation of California Bundschus was my namesake, Charles (the First) when he married the first born daughter, Francisca (1859-1933), of Jacob and Eva Gundlach living in San Francisco. She was my great grandmother. Her second son Carl, was my dad’s father.

So, I represent, technically, the fourth generation of California-Bundschu. Although, Charles I, was born in Germany, and was a first immigrant after his partner and father-in-law Jacob.

This factoid might be worth something, if our family produced something of value — that is as a family! Oh, well, you may cite the fine varietal wine production. Yes, the label of Gundlach Bundschu (gunlock.com) is worth a lot — for the heirs of uncle Towle and cousin Jim . . .

What I’m trying to describe here is the family that produced me, but, also, the family that I helped to produce. As such, I admit, I never knew just what our ancestors were investing into California. I’m talking family faith here. Tanta Eva had nine children, and lost one.

Her faith enabled her to wait for Jacob to return for her after building his business security, that had to take a long eight (8) years. Their faith supported their love. Their faith led them to live and work in their home right next door to the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church!

MY BEST ASSESSMENT FOR A FAMILY PRODUCT

Now you may expect for me to describe how marriage to Vivian has produced something worth talking/writing about. Redeeming relationships are worth saving. It has been a long road to travel down. Only the Catholic Church has the resourcefulness to redeem me.

Can I explain how this worked for me in two paragraphs? God’s greatest attributes are truth and reality. To get a good handle on the truth, we need a teather tying us firmly to reality. What that means is, take baby-steps . . . Learn a truth about God . . . then, make it reality:

Application – The quick solution is to learn a (Bible) truth, and make it become reality, by choice, receive (accept) its universal definition, and begin to realign thoughts, words, and activities to conform with whatever it may specify. Proof is found in trusting-faith.(Ro 10:17)

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MEANWHILE BACK TO VIVIAN

The thoughts today must delve into my errors in leadership with Vivian and her children. There may be times of great family gatherings, similar to the Easter parties Barbs and I grew up with, but they were too few and celebrating children’s accomplishments was about it.

Alright, we did not celebrate like I was shown. Yet the children did come around and share some time with their children, and we felt together enough to take a family portrait. But when, alas, Rick suffered with cancer, and passed away suddenly at age 46, we stepped back.

More upset and grief set-in with thoughts of personal blame, and review of what went wrong. The funeral was officiated by the Baptist pastor of his divorced wife and daughter (and son, although we had not witnessed his baptism). Only our Pentecostal pride kept us away . . .

WHAT HAPPENED TO RICK IS A MYSTERY

It was his daughter who had grown up to become the beauty and intellect pleasing to her father, so it has been said, she was the last person to see our son alive. And from all the times we’ve seen her — having the chance to ask — all we can understand was he told her a joke.

It was a bout with the dreaded cancer of the lymph nodes, Lymphoma, that he was treated for — that lasted about a year. And then he was all better for about a year . . . until it came back almost with a vengeance. The doctor recommended a strong counter-attack dosage . . .

He died the day before his birthday. We were all called into the surgical unit to meet with the doctor responsible who explained his procedure and the risks, and what went wrong. We were invited to see him in his bed with tubes removed and a slight smile on his face.

The timing of his birth and death was within days of my own mother’s lifetime. Her liver gave out from her addiction to alcohol. The coincidence was striking to me. It made me think of all the times his mother and I failed to celebrate his personal accomplishments with him.

FAILURE TO BE PRESENT AT COLLEGE GRADUATION AND MARRIAGE

As a result of not being in attendance at the big events of the children was a big mistake. We were far away and couldn’t make the trip, especially their wedding. That I believe, made the distinct impression that we didn’t care enough for them to make the sacrifice.

Another point that may have honestly formed the Ricky-boy’s negative attitude toward me personally, was at that time when all my kids came to stay with us while their mom was on a date. They got me in my bedroom to express an insult to me about my children.

I was so mad I actually tried to hit Rick, but together, they overpowered me. I was helpless to accept their insolence, and we all suffered from it. My pride was insulted, my heart stuck it’s neck out to teach a lesson — that was needed — but I was powerless; correction was not made.

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HINDSIGHT IS TWENTY-TWENTY OR NOT?

Another peculiar time of singular isolation was in ’94, when a prophetic pastor predicted the world would be coming to an end. I have little understanding of it now, but I believed this televangelist when he gave a time and date of the end of the world.

So I chose to believe what the televangelist was prophesying. It was dated at noon on Sunday, the 2nd of October, 1994, as predicted historically that the moment of the stroke of noon, six-thousand years since creation by a certain evangelist (whom I cannot confirm).

I was not a scholar, but I believed the Bible — and I wanted to believe the Bible teacher.

So, along about ten o’clock, Scooter-Booter and I drove up on the hill overlooking Burleson. We parked, and we waited. I prayed and listened to praise and worship music, and I trusted God to show up . . .

Well, he was there, but not to end the world for me, or the prophet, or the evangelist: Or anyone else. I was to learn some wisdom in this. It shouldn’t require the scholar to figure this out. No, maybe not. (Also, where was my beloved Vivian? Obviously, not with us.)

My hindsight failed me here. Just looking for the online record of last-day predictions is a huge list, I am impressed that I was missing so many other predictions — even that radio Bible teacher missed it twice before in the recent past — but, I remember it was a non-work day.

THE HUGE LESSON HERE IS LEARN WHAT GOD ACTUALLY SAYS!

We don’t have to be a scholar to learn what is necessary to gain saving faith, either outside the church (or inside the church). The church is the body of Christ. And that can be two or more folks who agree — having received Christ personally, by faith, and are baptized.

Having become Catholic, and gained an understanding of Catholicism, I have a stronger faith. Faith that can be shared with a degree of certainty. So, Acts tells a record of believers being first called Christians in Antioch. While Christians were first called Catholic by Ignatius.

Ignatius as bishop of Antioch, wrote letters to the known world as St. Paul did. In his 7th letter addressed to Smyrna, about 85 years after the crucification, he first describes the Church as Catholic. (Taken from Deacon Gerald Zuchacus’ homily on live EWTN mass.)

SEX-ABUSE ALLIGATIONS

Vivian approached me with her viewing of a Catholic sister who recently testified having resigned her consecrated place because of the sex abuse scandle. I stopped her from telling me anything more after I googled her Name — Vivian heard all she had to say telling me to listen. I refused to listen for three reasons: She is “Out of fellowship”; not Catholic, and . . .

Now, I am not denying anyone’s honest testimony that comes from a good conscience. I can understand how sin works in my own body and in relationships of intimacy present and past. But my progress toward holiness needs support of the holy-kind — consecrated stuff!

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I have learned the value of confession, absolution, and penance that protestants don’t teach. I trust God and his reality-checks with his plan for Vivian’s faith, and I trust her. She is honest to me as she cannot yet agree with me and cannot yet trust what I tell about Catholicism . . .

She cannot trust how I have chosen to take my faith to the next level. We have barely enough faithful agreement between us to stop and say a prayer to God — when we must — when we are forced to do so, and we do say, (hat off, crossing myself) “God help us here with this . . .”

Of course, I am always ready to pray with anyone — especially on assigned visits to church family as a home-bound minister, and the reality of serving the body of Christ. The host in the form a half-dollar sized wafer and is actually consecrated by the priest, as Eucharist.

Such prayers are prescribed and universally known and understood as official even when I prayerfully say them with my own verbal utterance — to those receiving my serving the host that we believe, thankfully (“Eucharist”) is become the real flesh and blood of Christ.

IT TAKES FAITH THAT COMES BY HEARING GOD

God has a plan for every non-catholic spouce. Vivian has already begun her research to prove me in error. Like the marvelous movie staring — Audrey Hepburn, in the movie, The Nun’s Story. She acted in the story of a nun nurse physician-assistant who had a change of heart and resigned because her father had been killed by the Nazis; and she lost her neutrality.

That means a heart that fails to love the enemy, which the Lord says plainly in the Sermon on the Mount. It is a personal thing that hasn’t affected me, because I have yet to submit totally to become consecrated as the Catholic Church teaches. Yet again my heart can grow closer.

This brings up Vivian’s nun story. Faith can only grow as my heart submits to my dearly beloved wife. And, as I see this, both sacrifice and suffering can and should bring her faith around to seek understanding. She definitely understands a nun in the Me-Too Movement.

I don’t want to pursue the misconduct allegations of our church leadership, but I do want to pray about it. The marvelous Holy Father, Pope Francis, has the whole world in his hands. He is a true inspiration. Because he hears from God and can lead the church body obediently.

What other denomination or independent church organism has that capability? It was because of the Second Ecumenical Council, and the college of bishops with Pope John Paul VI, and Pope John XXIII, that the church has opened it’s doors to such an adulterer like me.

I love to hear the marvelous quote that God’s grace is greater than all our sin . . . “Grace means undeserved kindness. It is the gift of God to man the moment he sees himself as unworthy of God’s favor.” — Dwight L. Moody (Romans 5:20)

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Today, I heard a word about my precious wife and helpmate. She is fun. Yes FUN! As this is the last page I have designated for her and our relationship, I am inspired to do her right. She is my queen. I trust her, let me tell you why. She is very humble, I noticed . . .

It was yesterday that I had an open calendar. We sat down and began to share creative ideas.

What if we moved the sofa table into the happy room and put a chair behind it so that eating your meal while watching the TV would be more comfortable?” She said.

“Well okay, that hasn’t been done before. We can do that.” I said not even thinking where this move would open further possibilities.

So I put on my Bekins’-Man hat, and carefully proceeded to remove the empty drawer, and lift the sofa-table holding it vertical (longitudinally) so it fit through three doors — it’s six foot length and narrow width fit one door at a time, and it’s lightweight, pine structure, was easy.

All set up with drawer in, the new location for the sofa-table was a perfect setting of a desk-like arrangement. We both tried sitting and feeling the newness of an extended piece of wooden (pine) furniture to replace a wraught-iron patio table . . . It seemed to work.

I was agreeable to try this out for some time as it was so different. Until . . .

Oh, and another wild idea is coming to me.” Viv said.

Oh no, please, let’s live a day with this.” I asked.

Just hear me out.”

I was curious. “Okay.”

“Your desk in your room would really fit better, and there is room here.” She said motioning her arm out for the wider table top.

My mind did not think to object, but considered the merits of her suggestion. She was right. My heart was willing to follow her — but it was my desk she was wanting moved. A much heavier piece, a computer desk of the last decade, but I could use a smaller desk. Hmm.

There was time to do this before supper and the news I like watching. “Okay.” I said.

Still having my Bekins’-Man hat on, I went to my room, and spoke to my crucifix, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus.”

The change enabled me to do everything to change both tables safely with no damage, and that confirmed the real decorative gift Vivian has to make our lives together more comfortable.

[NOTE: This page represents the end of Part III. In retrospect, I may have only painted a small rendering of my wife and our relationship. So I reserve the right to make future additions.]

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PART IV – Final Assembly of a Catholic Soul

(Our retirement photo showing products of former General Dynamics and Lockheed-Martin Corporations with a crucifix reflected over bed headboard as viewed kneeling in my room.)

Chapter 14 – Two decades ago

EARLY RETIREMENT WAS A BIG DEAL, OUR EXIT FROM TEXAS BY STORM

I was working days as an assembler in Final Assembly of the F-16

My career was winding down. Vivian and I were living in the house of our dreams that we had built in Burleson Texas. We agreed to plan to move closer to her children.

Hey Chuck, have you finished your book yet?” Asked Jim Steinhaur, a good friend and associate, as he walked up to my work station.

“Yes I have Jim, thankfuly.” I said, thinking it’s about lunchtime. So I grabbed my lunch.

“What are you going to do with it?” He asked as we entered the break room.

“I published it into four copies, and distributed it to four friends that I knew would like a copy.”

“I didn’t get one.”

“I know, that’s too bad Jim, but I don’t think you would like one.” I said, thinking who did get copies. And we sat down. (See note below)

“Awe come on! We have been friends for years.”

“I know. But you have never mentioned you’re personally relating to the Jewish faith.”

“Is that what it’s about? I’ve seen you sitting in the break area always writing — For over a year.”

“Yes, it did take me two years to finish — only writing at lunch break for forty-five minutes a day, six or seven days a week.”

He looked at me incredulously, and bit into his sandwich.

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“Jim, you are a member of our Christian group here, I know. This was my attempt to evangelize Jewish friends.”

“Yes, I remember that we had met daily to share and have devotion, but then you were called to write a book?”

“Yes, it was what I felt I needed to do. It occurred to me, that if I combined all four Gospels into one book, and use the Jewish New Testament which replaced Greek wording with Hebrew, it might be easier to read, from a Jewish point of view.”

“Well, how did that work out?” Jim asked sincerely.

“We Xeroxed 420 pages times 4, costing over thirty-seven dollars, but handwritten, it was too long. Not being a scholar, I planned never to plagiarize the work of the renouned author, Dr. David Stern; I guess it was just my study exercise.”

“Then, what did you learn?” Jim said smiling, eating his cookie.

“Good question! I found several errors that show the original authors as human.”

“Errors? In the New Testament? No, not there. It’s supposed to be literally without error.” Jim said seriously.

“I agree, but consider how St. Matthew tells about a situation, that St. Mark and Luke see differently.” (Matthew 8; Luke 8, and Mark 5)

“You mean in perspective, seeing by different views will duplicate objects?” Jim said scratching his head.

“Yes, a good example is when all the disciples cross the sea for Jesus’ ministering to the possessed man or men, is it one or two men? Also, when passing through Jericho the last time, is there one or two blind men?”

“Yes, I’ve noticed that, one disciple had double vision.” Jim said. “Why is that?”

Ha! I said I’m not a scholar, Jim. But I did pray about it once, and I heard an answer you might accept.”

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“I heard from God when he said that the scribes writing each of the original Gospel texts were different people and they had no quality control — except Mother Mary, who was not always along with the men. But she had to respect their viewpoints. She allowed the apostolic transliteration errors because she knew they were not educated men.”

That’s good Chuck! I agree, Mother Mary was without sin! She alone, beside her Son, could see the imperfections of the apostles when they told of the their stories to her. She loved them, just — as — they — were!” Jim said smiling.

Chuck was happy he was able to eat and talk through his halibut salad sandwich.

Lunch period over, the bell sounded, and both men returned to their work stations.

[Editor note: This shared conversation may not have actually occurred as told here, yet in fact, the time and event described, and the four copies of the four Gospels combined into one story, was written. It was longhand with the Jewish New Testament and delivered to (1) the gate guard married to a Jewish wife and having sons who may choose to become Jewish; (2) the man in paint shop who expressed interest in my study; (3) the Adventist pastor who shared lunchtime study, and (4) his parishioner interested in Old Testament study, and the Jewish New Testament.]

EARLY RETIREMENT WAS A BIG DEAL

The only good reason we decided to retire was that we wanted to be a part of our grandchildren’s lives. Jordan Chase Martindale was two, and Brianna was in the chute. We considered choices of monthly income as the max up front because we had the house as equity, and wanted to buy a house in Alabama, believing higher values and lower prices.

I remember my retirement and last day at Lockheed-Martin Aerospace Company in Fort Worth Texas. The date I chose originally was the last week of March, as I turned 60 on the 28th. But, I was told if I waited a month — the union strike could be settled, and retiring under a new contract, may mean a higher hourly wage, and increased retirement.

So we decided to delay retirement, which was what happened. And our planned move was made like clock-work. We sold the house within a week. The movers came and got all our stuff in one load. We had rented a house for delivery in a few days. And we cleaned everything.

There was a retirement reception in the Final Assembly conference room filled with friends, the department manager, my supervisor, and the secretary who made all the cake and coffee look inviting — it was always fun to attend these affairs . . . always a special time.

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Today we are honoring our friend and loyal retiring employee, Mr. Chuck Bundschu.” The manager said as he motioned to me. And I stood up.

A round of applause was appropriate, (what can I say here).

“I would like to thank our leaders present here, for the help who put everything together this morning. I want to review all my jobs here, and tell a couple of stories that may benefit you.” I said looking at each person with eye contact — before we eat the cake.”

(Laughter and another round of applause, as everyone knew to be clocked-in for a conference and to be getting paid to hear whatever I had to say.)

Go ahead Chuck, tell us your story!” Said T.C. Fenn, a valued friend whom I had to acknowledge.

Thanks T.C.!” I said pointing to him with my smiling face.

“When I was hired, by the manager of Modification and Maintenance, to work out there in the Mod Hanger, I had no idea what I was getting into. I met with two of you, Mike Waite, and Charlie Grace — who retired last year — but was significant to help me learn how to read the engineering drawings — from an engineering perspective.”

“After two years there, and using what Charlie taught me to read drawings, working to assemble the F-16XL-A and B models, the experimental delta-wing mod — does anyone remember that?” I asked and looked around, to see Mike Waite raise a hand . . . THEN, I applied for and got hired to be a tech-writer with the Engineering and Data department, as a salaried employee.”

“Whoa!” Everyone chimed in.

Yes! But only because I had learned to read correctly the engineer drawings and was able to show the manager which model product gets which subassemblies, and, when parts of subassembly was approved, issued, and installed, etc..”

“Did Charlie show you all that?” Asked Mike.”

Well Mike, keep me honest will you — working mod used engineering drawings, but the difference of production assembly drawings, I figured out because of Charlie Grace and God’s grace.”

“Right Chuck; what did you do then?” T.C. said.

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I worked two years there and transfered to the Production Planning department, where I was a manufacturing coordinator. During that assignment, as salaried, I was told to help give tours around the plant. That happened because I had joined a lunch-time Toastmaster Club in the Engineering department, and learned to speak publicly.”

“Did God help you do that too, Chuck?” Mike asked.

(Laughing)

Yes Mike, I give credit to God for that too. So how many here have done that duty?” I asked to see if anyone else might have witnessed my work skill. (No one showed.)

I noticed the manager motion for me to finish this up.

It was then that I was requested to leave manufacturing and rejoin the Mod department, after being salaried for 5-years, I think it was good for experience sake, but the low income was enough of a sacrifice, and we needed to gain income and more hours.”

“Let’s see, 18 years in 18 minutes–we were laid off from the production line at the nose subassembly: When we were just walked out the gate. From there to part-time greeter at Walmart, then to a tech-writer position with Bell Helicopter subcontractor. That was a good place to work, (except for one unfortunate eternal moment: — a fellow writer-engineer died from a stroke — right there in front of us.) I was asked to analyze their drawings and found engineering errors in electrical drawings.” I said leaving out the gory details.

“I had a choice to make when being called back, whether to stay with Bell permanently, or resume my career here. Even though we worked the third shift to start, it was a different subassembly — the inlet; and the work was structure assembly, when no work was for my plumbing expertise — I never regretted rejecting Bell Helicopter because they rejected me.

“Only two more placements left, as mechanic for the sealing of the crew station in the nose subassembly, which paid more, but my choice to not use protective gloves was crucial. Using bare-hand application of sealant onto leaks was easy and more efficient. But, because the sealant literally sucked the oil from my skin, my hands began to crack and caused pain that prevented me from doing the job.” I said flexing my hand.

I was out for two weeks on medical leave, and was all healed up. Then I got this phone call. It was an insurance agent telling me that my injury case, was not justified, and was not to be paid by them. That was either a preliminary assessment or a challenge that my claim could not be honored. I was so upset by such a call, that I slammed the phone down, and yelled:

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“(God) What can I do?!” I yelled standing at the divider-counter of the kitchen, facing the opening into the vaulted living room. And I heard God (guardian angel) say,

What do you want to do?”

That got my attention. But it made me think: ‘I want to get back to work.’

“My thinking-outloud was heard, and my heart also heard to call directly to the general foreman of Final Assembly to ask for a transfer to his opening for a plumber position. He said he could do that, but I would have to take a reduction in pay about a dollar an hour. I didn’t even think that mattered. But he accepted me, and told me when to report.”

“I need to confess my big fault to you, as you may benefit from hearing this, several times I failed to connect the electrical connector of the transmission to the receptor on the deck above it — before all of the rest of the system’s assembly. Why? I don’t know to tell.

“It could have been a timing thing, but I needed help to do this. Could inspection help, because they failed to see it, no. Could the boss? No. Could engineering? . . . Planning? (I do feel badly about causing someone having to fix my blunders, costing mucho dinero.)

“The rest is shared history. I have worked here in Final Assembly since then. I am so very thankful for the employment. The union was my downfall. Because of my salaried employment, I mistakenly thought to ignore honoring the union, and the union steward; that wasn’t okay at all. And, I’m sorry that happened.” I said concluding, and sat down.

Thank you Mr. Bundschu, please cut the first piece of our cake. Thanks to all for coming.” The general forman said to dismiss the reception informally, as I was shown to cut the large cake with the first piece, grabbed a plastic fork and sat down at the table near the door

[Some of the questions that were asked me while eating my retirement-cake portion, sounded bizzar, but they made comments about hearing from God directly: “Really?” “What’s it sound like?” “If you heard from God, no wonder you didn’t think to call the steward, even if you did, it would take more time.” “I heard from God like that once — I was upset, but the word got me thinking too.”]

Our Exodus from Texas by storm

On my 60th birthday, when I originally planned to retire from Lockheed-Martin, March 28, 2000, an F-2 tornado struck Ft. Worth with a vengeance. We had gone shopping in Arlington and could see the black cloud from the hiway as we returned to Burleson.

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The casualties were minimum as it occurred after 5 o’clock, but every glass window in the huge bank building in central downtown was shattered sending glass flying around and around everywhere. The path was focused on central city: It touched down 2 miles west, moved straight west to east, and lifted at a half mile to the east.

There were two lay ministers praying in the church prayer-tower next to it’s path, when all the walls were blown out and they had to hold on for dear life, as the 150 mph wind attacked the church building. The praying folks survived, but the building was never used again.

Such occurrences speak to me like a sign from Almighty God — to move on. We were wise to delay retiring, I think, even a month, when we were blessed to peacefully end our short career there. I can’t help think how if we had not delayed retirement, it would be messy.

When we arrived in North Alabama, we went to a realtor who rented us a house owned by a service member on overseas tour, and we moved into it temporarily. Our stuff was following and was delivered on time. The location was on a corner lot so that the double-wide driveway was roomy enough to enable timely off-loading.

After having lived in our own home for 12 years, it felt strange, but we enjoyed the feeling of being closer to the children and precious grandchildren. We made it a point to visit them and have them visit us. But I think I had some kind of privileged attitude, undeserved favor.

We were not in a hurry to join a local church, but after settling a bit, and having all our needs met — oh how the time flew by! We were recommended to find a church and it’s teaching that agreed with the Calvary Cathedral downtown Ft. Worth, or Kenneth Copeland Ministries, those we were accustomed to and supported, nondenominational. We found two here. Impact Ministries was one of them — but we never visited there.

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Chapter 15 – Our New Church and jobs

OUR NEW CHURCH AND JOBS, QUALITY POSITION, FREE-LANCE WRITER, GOD’S CALLING FOR ME, HOW TO LEARN CATHOLICISM, LET’S REVIEW,

The Rock Family Worship Center was the other church. We visited when it was located on Hiway 72, University Blvd, in an old motel building. Then they moved downtown. I joined the men’s “huddle-group”, shared my testimony and started making good friends.

Vivian attended with me to their worship services, and we signed up for membership class. We attended and both became members after a short period of time. We liked the feel of “Family”, and the teaching (doctrine) was universally minimumized to qualify.

This was a critical point: How the doctrine was minimized to help more people come into fellowship. At first we were peaceful with it. (But no Sunday School?) The training program is called ‘NextSteps’ to the count of four — 4 steps (classes) teachings that everyone can easily accept.

I found it reasonable that the Christian Apologetics Research Ministry (CARM) Had posted it’s Doctrine Grid that explains the primary and secondary essential doctrines. This got me started in a study of theology. (carm.org)

I had begun searching for employment. I got to work with electronic assembly at two places locally, which failed my expectations, then two seasons with the US Space and Rocket Center, as a counselor.

They trained counselors to teach children about the wonderful artifacts in their large museum of space, aerospace, and rocket memorabilia. I had experience in both military adventure leadership, aeronautical manufacturing tour guide, and Toastmaster Club.

A quality assurance job was available for me in 2003, and that lasted to 2009, when we had just taken delivery of our best automobile ever, a 2009 Nissan Versa. A small 5 passenger sardine can that was perfect for grandchildren visits. We are still driving it.

I was able to search for an online free-lance writing position through a listing with the state employment commission. I was encouraged to try writing for Examiner.com.

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They were located in Denver, Colorado, but could assign placement for locations close to hometowns and with topics of interest.

I asked for San Francisco and Religion and Politics as a major theme. That was fun. It was a learning experience that was only stimulating for filling my interests to a point. I did get a low level of response and participation — even for two more years, 2010 and 2011.

Then in 2012, I applied for and accepted a full time tech-writer job, and quit writing free-lance. I wrote about the new maintenance manual production of the government contract to produce small observation (Kiowa) helicopters for the Iraqi security force. That was good work and pay, but lasted only four months: (From the last day of January, to the first day of June.)

I was canned for one wrong digit in an account number charging my time — which actually got my boss called to the VP’s office. I was still under probation, and had no leg to stand on.

Meanwhile, back to my study of theology. So, one way to learn was by writing a blog. That interested me because of my faith — which had been growing while attending The Rock FWC (Family Worship Center). I was active in the men’s groups: with Pastor Dad, and brother Tom. (wiklpedia.com)

Pastor Dad asked me if I would like to edit a men’s magazine. His son, Pastor Greg, the men’s minister, met with me and the graphics department head. My input was to ask if the funds would be sufficient to accomplish this unique project, and he assured me there would be.

So I got busy and began interviewing pastors from youth to seniors, and interest groups to life-groups and men who were encouraging and others so involved with family and fellowship, they were not supportive. I was interviewing the senior pastor, Rusty; And I emailed him afterward, what I’d written from our conference we had showing major points of his story.

I encouraged him to write his own book, which he eventually did, though I did not see it. Then, his wife, also senior pastor, heard that I, a person [not on staff] was editing what her son-in-law, Music Pastor — with a degree in English, should be doing — men’s magazine editor. Then, I was dismissed without cause. That was enough to show me God’s will.

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The magazine was never published, because the music minister was not active in the men’s ministry, and he didn’t ask me for what I had already put together. AND, (and this is a big and,) there was a tornado that occurred just at that time to use funds to help recovery efforts for our local community.

[You can read all that I had written for the men, and my continued studies beyond Journey at the link here.](doingjourneytogether.wordpress.com)

I eventually left the men’s fellowship, where I had made some really memorable friends. I was so into writing that I took notes on what was said by whom and documented a follow-up email to send out to the long list of members. Many said they liked it, but the leader, Tom, and one new member, Mel, told me to stop.

I weighed my need for fellowship with my need to write, and fellowship lost. I wasn’t thinking I couldn’t have both, at least not at the Rock FWC. Other sources of fellowship, such as life groups of families or couples meeting that we attended, shared their honest stories of going to other churches, either denomination or nondenominational.

I have to admit at first, I was not considering any possibilities other than my own inferiority and limited talent or ability. There was no pressure and no ambition in retirement. My life was over . . . Or was it? My faith in my calling to write was slowly beginning to grow. But I needed to deny myself, and develop a spirit of poverty.

I was shown that my heart was favoring poverty in spirit, as opposed to what modern ministries have taught that the Gospel power makes for choices of prosperity, called the prosperity Gospel. We raised our children in a private school in Fort Worth that taught such a Gospel. I spent several years attending the Believer’s Convention. The spirit was powerful. Much like a small gold rush in the late nineteenth century sought by many. (jdgreear.com, wikipedia.com)

It was the Next Steps teachings program from the Rock that provided a survey that showed me I had chosen a spirit of poverty. I shared the results with a retired Air Force officer friend, whose influence was sterling. He was surprised and told of his support of prosperity gospel teaching. He went off to Nevada for big construction jobs.

Quality position

The fourth job I worked in retirement: It found me through the local Alabama employment agency. I reported, was interviewed, and hired to inspect product packaging and shipments. All of a sudden, I was starting a new career at Cinram Inc.

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It was a seven-year career that fizzled out because of two medical conditions that took away my desire to daily struggle through the grind. I became cranky working 12-hour shifts. My knee had lost all it’s cartilage, and learning that sent me to a production department to do an eight-hour shift.

HOW I LOST MY SPLEEN

The other medical result of the 12-hour shift, was when wearing the same shoes, they became smelly and I thought, mistakenly, that if I sprayed my feet with deodorant, they would not smell so much. This caused me to suffer with a blood anomaly that flushed my white blood cells by my spleen causing a severe anemic condition I noticed by seeing blood in my stool.

The hospital took me in through a 911 call, and an ambulance ride I regret — but it got me priority, and I was wheeled right in to get my doctor and a specialist on my case. After months of treatments, using steroid drugs my system began recovering, but it did not correct the spleen from flushing. That meant removing my spleen. And that was done.

The continued blood work that analyzed white blood cells confirmed that the splenectomy was effective. All I needed to do was ween off the steroid. Then, follow-up checks . . . And home free, healed to praise God my healer!

Wife Vivian has a different blood anomaly, she was given a blood transfusion, when she was in Fort Worth, that began to fight her red-blooded cells, called, cold agglutinin. We regularly see her doctor, who treats many patients with more serious diseases. But we keep going back after nine years. The prognosis is long-termed, and makes me think she will beat me home. (Heaven is home for all Christians.)

Cinram was a good seven-year career, having made many good friends, I certainly don’t regret working there. The high point was achieving certification for Quality Auditor. That wasn’t a complicated process, and benefited me by local tours of corporate quality departments.

Free lance writer

My desire to keep active was equivalent to what ice cream does for children. So the Alabama Employment Department was helpful to encourage me to extend my writing to apply for the Examiner.Com organization out of Denver Colorado. I applied, was accepted, and given a slot.

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My interest was my home town politics and religion. That got me started, and through the decade. From first after-retirement-job to the last, was a period of ten years. I was given a used computer that helped me write. It was a Windows 95 model but its support stopped.

My stepdaughter is my sponsor with both iPhone and iPad devices. She is blessed with a good paying job that she likes doing. She may not agree with me, my religion, or my opinion; but she is kind to me, and because I am faithful to help her mom, I am free to learn God’s calling.

God’s Calling for Me

This final part being the most recent development, is much like the final assembly of the aircraft in my manufacturing career . . . The four subassemblies of my life’s experience are coming together here: From the tail section, the mid-section, the nose section, the wings and tail subassemblies, emerge the completed final assembly to be checked and operated.

The main points of my journey out of Protestantism and into Catholicism, are: 1) Extended prayer, (tail section, where the powerplant is housed); 2) The philosophy of, faith seeking understanding, (mid-section, where the heart and soul are joined); 3) The theology of conscience forming, (nose section, where controls are rigged); 4) the holy Word is applied (where are the wings and stabilizers), and 5) making choices to progress along God’s path, (where the vertical and horizontal control surfaces are.)

HOW TO LEARN CATHOLICISM IN THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE STUDY

Each subassembly is organized into 7-week segments

Final assembly brings all four parts of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) during the Easter vigil when solemn and sincere commitments are made. Starting wherever a person might be philosophically, the first stage of RCIA process is Inquiry: Ask questions, dispell fears, etc. [scheduled for seven (7) weekly meetings.]

Here all the possible questions lead to every definition and explanation — nothing hidden, everything is shown about the true faith of Catholicism. This was not rocket science, but if it was incomprehensible to anyone, then effort was made to explain completely.

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Evangelization is inviting and settling of misunderstandings about where one stands in relation to the Catholic Church. This process can take weeks or months. But this brings a person to the rite of acceptance, or welcome, depending on baptismal history.

After all curiosity and misunderstandings are cleared up, then everyone should be on the same page — then the group becomes learners, or Catechumenates: Apprentices of Christian discipleship. I was motivated to learn all I needed to participate in the process — every page had references to the paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church — since Christmas, when I received my own copy. (7 more weeks)

My study of Catechism was already begun, and as I learned about Christian theology, and wanted to write about what I was learning, I realized I could not publish anything copyrighted and had to write the publisher for permission . . . and letter by snail-mail to Rome, was received and granted early in January.

The explaining of the order of the core teaching and beliefs: doctrine of the faith was experienced through the liturgy. My Integration into the parish was accomplished by the requirement to attend weekly mass. I was baptized, but could not take the Eucharist.

The formation happens by both instruction and participation in the worship services. Since I was baptized, but that it was not saved in archive — too long ago to prove. At the rite of Election, my baptism was re-done, provisionally, on a special day, my 78th birthday. (Thanks God!)

And this helped me enter the next phase because my understanding of baptism had to change. Baptism by Baptist doctrine is only a show, or demonstration of faith, while Catholic baptism actually cleanses original sin. Such sin as human beings inherit.

Having learned these basics, being elected and sent, my search within the handout material was done: Such as Journey of Faith provided by the Liguori Publications, a ministry of the Redemptoists, congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, missionary priests.

The next phase, stage or process, is Purity and Enlightenment, about my inward reflection and discernment–a more intense examination of conscience about any sinful attachments or attitudes affecting my relationship with Christ. This I tackled with intensity: Confession.

I was prepared for confession — even as my conscience was formed by reviewing how all Ten Commandments could be applied to my past — I found 105 sins I could confess, and wrote them in a red notebook. When confession time came, I was second in line . . .

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I received much help doing this online. I was amazed at just how extensive the Ten Commandments were applicable: I was guilty of nearly all sins listed. And that may be typical, to think about it, humanity has a penchant for sinning (against God); I learned.

What my preparation was when the priest heard me say “I have to confess 105 sins, he said, “Tell me the worst first.” So I described three, and he stopped me, after admitting, “That’s pretty bad!” He then absolved me of all 105 sins, and told me to pray ten Our Fathers. I said an Act of Contrition, which completes what I thought would be more difficult. (Catholic.org)

Confession would have been more difficult had I not prepared for it. And it was over in a flash. I did express my emotion when speaking of the father.

He was a good man.” I said sobbing. I was relieved to see how the priest (Pastor) observed and received my sincere confession. (Honesty plays the heart strings.)

LET’S REVIEW

The first “subassembly” is called Inquiry; the second, Catechuminate;

The third is Enlightenment and Purification; and the fourth is Mystagogia. . . . The first twenty years (approximately) of my life was the first subassembly, the second subassembly — the next twenty, and the third and fourth subassemblies were the most recent periods of twenty.

The Final assembly is the fifth twenty-year timeframe that’s to come. I want to account for the almost 80-years I’ve lived. I learned by seeing first-hand how the manufacturing process is organized: Everything has to be built according to a schedule — from day one, for the smallest piece of hardware. Then, as the plan is complete, the work begins.

Final assembly began for me this year when entering the local Catholic Church. All of my experiences, from day one, have come together now, and I only now realize our life’s not too short to reflect the glory that God assembles into each one of us for himself.

This is my plan to write it all down, because it’s important to me: To share with friends and family — all the choices I made with each opportunity . . . and how I believe I have arrived, at the mountain top. I am able now to help someone else find their way.

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Chapter 16 – Final Assembly Delivery

FINAL ASSEMBLY DELIVERY, CATHOLICISM IS GOD’S LIGHT, THE LEGION OF MARY, MY FAMILY ROOTS ARE CATHOLIC, THE REST OF THE STORY, INTIMACY WITH GOD, VIRTUE PURITY AND HOLINESS, EPILOGUE: HOW TO DIE HAPPY, CONCLUSION, THE PUNCHLINE, FINAL THOUGHTS.

I have spent half a century learning the truths of Sacred Scripture — even by daily reading, asking questions, searching for answers, and finding the key . . . Even the key to creation: Choosing life according to the ancient path of anointed holiness: Jesus Christ (The Messiah)” — Frank Ketoret

Only Christ himself is available and powerful to unlock the blessed supper of the Lamb. He and he alone is given the motive and the means with which to deliver (redeem) all of mankind. How is this? It’s the Holy Catholic Church — the Bride of Christ.

I am not worthy even to write this. My life was filled with failings; failure as a husband, failure as a son and a father. All of my failings amount to a debt that I could never repay, so I am convinced, the only deliverance to happiness worth seeking is through Christ Jesus.

“My story needs to be told for the sake of all our families. Not for my sake but for theirs. They need to learn my struggles, so they will struggle less. But life with God, needs not be a struggle. I have found deliverance. And this is how it (happiness) happened to me.”

“I watched all four channels to find what interested me most. Church in protestant terms, meant preaching and teaching. Worship songs were also included. But Mother Angelica was a real teaching personality, and I liked her. Then I caught up with Marcus Grodi and his Journey Home show. I listened to his scholarly presentation, and I liked that.

My theology401 blog was going strong with articles written about the Reformed Church and their R.C. Sproul, (and Bobby Schuller). R.C.’s book, Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith began by saying, “Every one has his own theology, and is a theologian.” I liked that. (WordPress.com)

Pastor Bobby and his wife, Hannah, were very effective teaching for me. He grew up hearing his father and grandfather teach from the teaching of Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking. My attraction was participating with him on my Twitter website. I was thrilled to share his messages within my blogging. That lasted a season, until . . .

I caught up with the ministry of Pastor John Kilpatrick and his program broadcast from Daphne, Alabama: The Church of His Presence. His prophetic teaching was powerful to me. Because I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, I was motivated to write many of his messages. (Please see the above link.)

Another ministry I was led to explore for a season was The Saddleback Church with Pastor Rick Warren. Saddleback is located in California right up the hill from where Marine Corps Air Station was at El Toro Santa Ana — where I served.”

An outstanding feature of Journey Home, was that Marcus always interviewed accomplished scholarly and serving pastors, who explained how they came to the knowledge of the truth about Catholicism and they had to resign from their pastorates.

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Final assembly for the RCIA class began when I had already prayed the Rosary for almost a year — because Mother Angelica showed me how on TV — that was a powerful demonstration of faith in the Virgin Mother Mary! I thought, ‘there must be something more to this.’ So, I started praying the rosary and never stopped.

Then purchasing a Catechism of the Catholic Church for Christmas, I committed to reading it daily. Everything I read made sense. And it was annotated and referenced to the authoritative magisterium of the Church, worldwide–that was impressive to me!

My personal prayer-life was a very major factor. I became convinced to increase the length of the prayer that was given to me by the men’s fellowship study of John Eldredge’s book Waking the dead. That book opened my eyes to committing to daily prayer. Then I made a list.

The list I made included all the members of my family, parents — their cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, great grandparents, wives, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, first cousins, 2nd cousins, their children, and all the 3rd cousins — everyone on the tree!

Then pastor John made an extended prayer for freedom, even 5-pages long. I began making more time to spend in morning prayer. Of course all the men of the fellowship were included. I was then watching EWTN and began taking Catholic names to pray for. I asked how many names should I take, and I heard a thousand. So the list grew to a thousand names long. (ransomedheart.com)

As I settled into praying nearly two hours on my knees, I heard to stop after 750 names. When in RCIA class, the email listed all the members — nearly 50 more. I was happy to include them. Praying for other’s, intercession is, after all, a key to pleasing God and getting his attention. (gotquestions.com)

Prayer became more important, and has grown to become my vocation — not always looking for more, but for the godly words to share on social media. When I hear from God, I write a note in my pocket notebook. Then, I can follow up by obeying what I heard.

My concern about personal prayer, gave the thought about the name of my blog, theology401, and about if there is a course online by that name. A quick search revealed there was. That brought me to the Hebrew University, and the course called Hebrew Mysticism, by Professor Barry Kogan. My concern was any copyright infringing so I wrote him for permission . . .

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I was not attracted to the subject, but I was given to think our family came from Jewish roots. That came from my dad giving me his father’s hunting horn, along with the name of his grandfather, Jacob or Yakov (Jacob or James in Hebrew). Anyway, I viewed the 3 videos given.

What that course taught was problematic, because I was not having it confirmed (witnessed) by my spirit. Like if someone told you you can get closer to God by every human effort to do so — by visualizing Him in His home, and obeying the 613 laws of the Old Covenant to do so.

My research into Jewish Mysticism, led me to the Catholic Encyclopedia by my favorite search engine, Google. That one source told me of the error with Jewish mysticism, being mixed with superstition and occultism. ”That is nothing I want!” I thought, and wrote. (catholic.org)

CATHOLICISM IS GOD’S LIGHT

With that one wonderful tidbit of information, I began to more fully explore Catholicism. Then came commitments to pray the Rosary, then to daily read the Catechism. The website of EWTN was helpful, along with the Catholic Laudate app. Laudate is a wealth of prayers and information on Catholic sources that were helpful to get me started to learn Catholicism. (catholic.com, catholicapps.com)

Not long after that, the thought came to try contacting the local church and inquire about their RCIA class. I received a reply from the director about a month before class began, I explained how I needed a sponsor. I was given a person who shared being from California — even lived in the next town, and went to the same junior college, and his wife is not Catholic, just like mine!

God was confirming to me his leading. He showed me a small silver crucifix in the hobby store for two dollars. I looked online about how to make a Rosary. So with such knowledge, we bought some cord, and I made one. Also, I asked for it to be blessed when introduced to Deacon Greg.

One more sweet conformation was given when in class, I was sitting across the table from a young woman, and I just said, San Anselmo. And she lit up like a light bulb! Her eyes were wide-open as she expressed amazement. She went to the same elementary school even.

Maybe finding two Catholic souls who have so much in common with you, doesn’t seem so big just now, but when they are also claiming their home town to be yours, and it is more than two thousand miles away — that is a God event!

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THE LEGION OF MARY

The altar for our Legion of Mary Saturday’s at St John the Baptist Catholic Church

I was led to join the Legion of Mary, even as the Holy Spirit guided my sponsor, Robert and his sister Jackie, introducing me to the remarkable leader of the group, Marie-terese Oumba, who met with us at the local coffee house after mass, one Sunday during my RCIA process.

After that, when wife and I were invited to visit with son Rob and Mary at the local Farmers Market, where they had a booth to sell his pottery crafts, I was impressed to walk across the street to attend the LOM meeting, I read in the bulletin would be happening.

Barring the family objections of doing this, I risked some misunderstandings, and felt compelled to attend and learn what the Legion does here. Since that day, when I first became a Catholic, I have been pleasantly blessed to learn how to serve the Blessed Supper (Eucharist) in homes.

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MY FAMILY ROOTS WERE CATHOLIC

A further confirmation to be in RCIA, was when my cousin published his book of the letters written in the 1850’s by our family’s great-great grandmother, Eva Hofmann Gundlach. She was a devout Catholic and mother of nine Catholic children–a pioneer with hubby Jacob!

That one fact, that I have never known, was the clinch-pin of confirming to my heart that I should become Catholic and continue to learn the teachings of Catholicism. I am learning more truths I’ve never known before. So, when I get to heaven, I will join our beloved ancestors.

[Blog post 51: “What do I mean when I say I’m praying for you” Family Stuff, prayer ]

THE REST OF THE STORY

A quick review is calling me today — even in prayer this morning, I was shown to look back over all of the four parts . . . Even how God as a personal advisor, because my heart is intimately formed for him, showed me the plot. Confirming the title, “Go to the Light“.

It was in chapter six, and then again in chapter nine, that the reader finds the details of my rescue, and my guardian angel telling me to ‘go to the light’.

Each telling (of my story) has a different context — a different setting for the telling. In the first place, the reader is brought in to share my life at that point. In the second place, the reader joins a chapel audience in a totally different, less hostile, theater of operation. However, the listeners were aviators and related positively.

“YOUR LIFE’S PLOT IS HOW YOU WENT TO THE LIGHT — NOT HOW YOU SEE THE LIGHT — EVERY LIFE IS GIVEN THE LIGHT TO SEE, BUT NOT EVERY LIFE CHOOSES THE LIGHT! SO CHOOSE THE LIGHT, EVEN IF ONLY FOR THE HOPE OF A BETTER LIFE.” — Frank Ketoret

Now, the context of wherever you are, and however much your life means to you, you can let your job, school, family or church bring you around to seeing everything differently.

This is how I’m shown that it works: close your eyes, count to ten . . .

Imagine you are alone on a ski-lift chair, and it’s so quiet that the fresh snow dampens all natural noises . . . And you hear your conscience say, ‘This is beautiful isn’t it? Wouldn’t you like to work here? And make a career of helping others enjoy winter recreation?’

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That actually happened to me when in high school traveling through with the ski team, we were given some time to exercise at a Utah slope where we stopped to rest. Such a break in our travel was not expected, or planned, and was therefore refreshing! (WordPress.com)

There are biblical stories in that article that really spoke to me. So I’m convinced that God throws a monkey wrench into the transmissions of our life-routines just to get us thinking — to even stretch reality until the true nature of life pops up. (I said no.)

Here goes. The ultimate plan here, is to get closer to God, to learn how we can be intimate with him and his family. Remember, we are going to the Light. Obediently we hear his voice, and know we desire to go along with his plan — for our happiness and ultimate benefit.

I was able to meet Bishop Wellington Boone when he came to speak at our church here in Huntsville, Alabama. I purchased his book that he offered. I read it and wrote some interesting quotes about intimacy with God into my bible dictionary. Can I share them with you?

OPPORTUNITY FOR INTIMACY WITH GOD

(Taken from My Journey with God by Bishop Wellington Boone, with permission.)

“An opportunity to develop intimacy with God,” page 22;

“David Brainerd had a genuine desire for intimacy with God, and a driving sense of destiny.” Page 27

“A private, intimate time with God is a privilege that comes about through yieldedness. It is rewarded by grace and power. You need to get alone with your greatest friend.” Page 31

“Every journey of God begins with personal intimacy. You need to know God to be like him in his holiness, and to walk in his steps . . . and become (happy) just like Jesus.” Page 34

“Intimacy with God: Secret prayer, humility and contriteness, aware of need for holiness, passion for knowing and serving God, understanding and fulfilling (happy) destiny.” Page 41

“That call takes consecration, courage, integrity, truthfulness, and consistent intimacy with God.” Page 45

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“When you are like Christ, then you can build on that right relationship all of the good deeds and soul winning that he tells you to do, but it will be birthed out with him, not out of your own pride or good ideas or need for approval.” Page 46

“When you get a true revelation of who God is through his word, the intimacy of prayer, and life’s (most happy) experiences, you come to realize through faith that nothing is impossible for God.” Page 56 (Mt 17:20)

“If you are still at the level of survival instead of seeking the fellowship of intimacy in prayer, you are still asleep.” Page 85

“When you know God privately, you know how to please him openly – praying according to his will.” Page 141

When you are in the light of God’s secret place, you do not hide from him. You don’t put on — you are transparent: Wide open, you fit heaven and it fits your heart — no shadows — only pure light.” Page 240

“Personal intimacy with God, character qualities of (enjoyable) intimacy: Transparency and vulnerability — willing to open myself up to God, and tenderness of heart.” Page 241 (Parens of “happy” are mine as happy is an interpretation of blessedness.)

My notes of applicable Bible texts:

Job 19:19; “Intimate friends” (All my intimate friends detest me;
    those I love have turned against me
.)

Proverbs 3:32; “intimate counsel” (For the Lord detests the perverse
    but takes the upright into his [intimate] confidence.
)

1 Corinthians 5:11; “not get intimate with” (But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister, but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.)

VIRTUE, PURITY, AND HOLINESS

I just received a reminder to buy a book on sale for Christmas, The Biggest Lie of the history of Christianity by Matthew Kelley. So I went to Google, searched and found it available to preview, looked at contents for the biggest lie, clicked on it, and it came up.

“The biggest lie of the history of Christianity is that it is impossible to be holy.

Here is the point: We can only be holy by faith, but God accepts this, by his plan.

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The three biblical texts show different usage of the words in Hebrew and Greek. And by faith we are willing to read and understand God’s word. His word is holy. We receive such wisdom and knowledge from God, by devoting our time and ability — by faith.

This means, hearing, and accepting the teaching that we can be holy as God is holy . . .

EPILOGUE – How to die happy

The three most egregious sins I committed in the 56 years as a Protestant were: Cursing God, rejecting my father, and being unfaithful to my marriage vow. Remember that? When Dad called wanting me to tell him how to go to heaven, I said no, and he hung up, and died two weeks later. I was very sorry for that. Dad was a good moral person.

Father Bryan said that was bad, as I confessed it to him. Still, Christ forgave me and absolved me of my sin — of that sin and all the others!

(I vehemently refused God’s assignment, and cursed saying hell no! Then, at the end of an unaccompanied tour, I committed adultery, with a prostitute, and confessed it to Helen who would not forgive because of my wicked pride.)

So, there we have my story. While I was in the depth of sin and failure, I was shown the mercy of God, and shown to go to the light. The glory of Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church is able to help us die in his grace — “I have learned to be content in every situation.” (Phil. 4:12-13) [biblical.com]

The points of value in telling my story in a public way — in the context of the family, the domestic church, is so that the children can know the sins of the father are not to be visited upon them. God’s light is seen best in Catholicism than in Protestantism. (openbible.info)

For 56 years, I proudly wore military dog tags that said Protestant. When led to a more grounded faith with catechism, saints, Rosary, Mother Mary, and the Eucharist, I began to receive understanding that faith is the means to realize truth — I took off my dog tags.

BOTTOM LINE: The absolution of sins means there is hope for heaven: Follow me!

CONCLUSION

I heard a story the other day about a poor man who was so hungry that he stole a pear from a market. He knew he was seen, so he tried eating the evidence as fast as he could. But, alas, the authorities caught him, arrested him with the core still in his hand. He was put in jail where he could eat the remainder of the core, except for the seeds that he saved.

When he was charged in public court, he was asked to present his defense. He stood and was going to plead guilty, but thought of his precious seeds.

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“Your honor, I have a precious treasure in the form of a seed, that when it is planted will produce a fruit tree of the golden pear. I can offer it to you to plant, but the only requirement to produce fruits of gold — you must be living a sinless life.” He said.

The judge thought about his life, and admitted he could not plant the seed. So the question was proposed to others present. The Chief of Police, but he declined also. Then the mayor, but he had to decline. There was no sinless person in the courthouse. All had to admit their conscience wasn’t clean.

Finally, the judge reasoned in his mind, that the crime was not so bad, and decided to let the poor man off the hook. The poor man’s charges were dropped, and he was released.

The moral to this story, there is treasure hidden in every person’s soul that poverty may bring forth. It is far better to pay the price of such a crime than disobey your conscience.

THE PUNCHLINE

I admit that I am that poor, hungry soul, as I stand in the sight of God, He has been giving me riches beyond earthly treasure . . .

But My heart cannot judge in a just court. My perception of family is a unit of souls whom God chose to put together — so that this life story can be read to reach out beyond myself, to sibling, wives, and all the children. My failures, admittedly can be owned — as I was to my parents, I was to my children. I have confessed them before Church authority, and received absolution.

A FAMILY THAT SHARES THEIR HEARTS CELEBRATING THEMSELVES TOGETHER, IS ABLE TO STAY TOGETHER, DESPITE ALL THEIR HANGUPS, CHOICES AND FAILURES. — Frank Ketoret

The prodigal son is a story about me. I want loved ones to have something told realistically for a remembrance, with fond memories. The ultimate test I will pass . . . But what about all my family? I do care very much for each of them — even as I failed to keep in touch. I truly deserve their rejection.

I failed to be the example even as my father was to me — I failed my son. Of course, I’m not in the grave yet, but still have one legacy to leave for him: Faith, the story of my faith is this:

Do the best you can to find God, to get acquainted with him, and try to please him, as he is our Father. When you know him, you are able to see yourself more clearly . . . and help others see themselves more clearly.

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There is little else for me to say, only that I don’t want my death to be like my dad’s was. My dad did not want what God offers us. He chose to go alone. He wanted no funeral, only that his ashes be floated in the Pacific Ocean. He found peace there (as fish food).

I believe he got something better . . . What goes around, comes around. He was born, he lived a life among real people, and joined many teams, the best team was, as is now our family. They accepted him for who he genuinely was, and he showed me to them, as I was born, and lived my life among real people . . . And they accepted me for whom I was . . .

I can accept all of my family for who they are. As they accept me, and together we are family . . . my father’s legacy to me . . . and alas, my legacy to my sons and daughters . . . still growing, still learning, still searching, still finding and discovering the truth. A worthy life . . . a good place to stop: please see, Major league Faceball – An argument for peace (linked below).

“My leading to follow God into his holy and apostolic church is in direct obedience to everything I’ve learned, both as Protestant and Catholic. I believe God is using every and all Christ-honoring churches and fellowships. I was baptized 56-years ago, only after leaving school and home. Our parents taught us to go to church but join only when older.

“I am older than my dad when he passed. My passing will be sooner than than later. Catholicism and Marian theology teach our transition into eternity is made with grace and peace. This is what is worth planning for: Forget the bucket list.” (Taken from my post 35, DoingJourneyTogether blog, October 5, 2017)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Waking up today knowing today is a special family day, I just need to say I am sorry for missing out on so many blessed family suppers. Whether with cousins meeting at the Sonoma Rhinefarm Bungalow, or with worshipers honoring our blessed Mother; I owe you all a debt of gratitude. May this story help to account for me. (gunbun.com) A proper conclusion should have its own post. (Please see, doingjourneytogether.wordpress.com)

Grace, peace and mercy,

(The story is over; but the end has not yet come.)

(Thanks be to God! — Please go the Appendix, page 138, which is last.)

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(Inside back cover)

The tribute to the RCIA graduate after confirmation on the card given with the gift of a cross symbol


(Back cover)

“Charles (Zeke) Bundschu as he is entering the new year (Church calendar). His request to be Santa Claus was denied, so the benefit of growing his face, was only to write this book. (The publication is subject to the bishop’s approval, we are requesting today.)” — Frank Ketoret, Editor @Wordlifejournal

One’s professional portrait is what the author believes is expected—only the record of age is covered by whiskers, but light reflected in the eyes means life is present.

APPENDIX

Thanks for joining me! Here we shall find all the noted links made throughout:

Editor endnotes:

1) pruning” (catholicexchange.com)

2) LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA (Catechism #377)

Contents endnotes:

3) PART ONE

4) PART TWO

5) PART THREE

6) PART FOUR

Preface endnotes:

7) wonderful winery (gunbun.com)

8) rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17, biblehub.com)

9) Faith seeks understanding “Ontological Argument” (Wikipedia.org)

10) brings truth to reality (catholicmoraltheology.com)

11) theology is the queen of science (stthomas.edu)

12) going up with Yeshua (WordPress.com)

Introduction endnotes:

13) acts 26:18 erv (biblegateway.com)

14) spiritual reality (patheos.com)

15) what is the Gospel/gpcutah.com (The Gospel Presbyterian Church in Utah)

16) spirituality (Wikipedia.org)

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HOW CAN SUCH AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY BE CONCLUDED POSITIVELY?

My main purpose here is to make a record of my life events that have come to mind as the most significant. If they offend you personally, then you may think I am trying to persuade in some off-handed way that I think I am right, and you are wrong if you don’t agree. No!

I am not always right, but I value “life” as a gift, and have thereby gained a degree of wisdom. I have been deluged with many thoughts of profound ideas that may be lasting beyond the length of this; which I have to bring down to some sort of positive conclusion. Here’s one:

Questions you may ask: Since you have survived many pitfalls of life, what makes you think the family members you have abandoned — cousins as well as children — will want to read this record? Quick answer: Because God is able to make all grace abound to you. (2 Cor 9:8)

Long answer: God is the author and finisher of all life. (inchristwelive.com)

Right. I think you can get this (if you haven’t already). Some serious retrospection may work here. Looking at the biggest possible picture in my room, is the world map printed on canvas that can represent the church of Jesus Christ: All traditions, representing some 15,000 plus.

Where then can my life history fit into anyone else’s life? My becoming a Roman Catholic Christian helps me relate to the largest and most authentically proven source of outreach. It’s like I am born again all over again!

This is why a reasonable primmer on philosophy and theology can be a valuable investment toward something more permanent of an understanding . . . of the way to truth needed for living the very best life we can live: How do we get to where we can recognize truth?

[Because Truth has to be humanly relatable, user friendly, and so basic, it cannot be changed . . . reduced to the least common denominator.]

Jesus Christ the Messiah alone meets every criteria. He said, I am the way, the truth and the life.Such a powerful statement I am still learning. More than ever, since joining the Roman Catholic Church, I am becoming more aware of greater truth and greater life. (patheos.com) To go to the Light, explore Lumen Fidei here. (m.vatican.va)

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REVIEW AND TRANSITION

My life-changing decisions came early in my life. As a small child, I recognized my eyes and eyesight were somewhat limited. I needed glasses, but a weak eye-muscle and corrective surgery gave me an inferiority complex — I was unable to make eye contact without fearing that my defective vision would be noticed and judged inferior.

Military tests proved this. I was physically tested for depth perception and failed to qualify for both US Marine Corps Officer Candidate school, and parachute rigger training. Such an experience showed me something of God’s plan, I learned to adapt, and changed military branch.

The US Army made me an officer. That opportunity expanded my horizon. My faith in my own ability was grown sufficiently to influence others to discipline themselves for growth. I was able to grow out of my inferiority and become hopeful for proving God’s direction, for me to learn humility to be formed into a spirit of poverty.

Marriage, on the other hand, was my most shameful failure. And the loss of precious children was the next greatest failure. To overcome those shortfalls, God led me to consider becoming Catholic. Here was not only the solution to failure, but also advancement in the Kingdom. (Forgiveness is not automatic, but required.)

It shouldn’t be as hard to understand as it is to explain: I have made personal assessment of myself by what is called the little Trinity, my body, mind, and heart (spirit-soul). My heart is formed to discipline my mind and body. So, as my body weakens, my heart strengthens. When we die, we get a new body, but we remain our redeemed soul.

Anyway, suffice it to just say, God makes provision for our transitioning to eternal life. If any healing is needed, I am looking more and more to Jesus’ passion. Meditation upon the crucifix as an eternally open moment . (Endless Alleluia, Cory Asbury, youtube.com)

He took all our sickness, grief and pain upon himself . . . Can you see a possibility here?

My living to finally tell how God showed me himself within the most complete and comprehensive family organization — His Church — it is the most beautiful and eternal eventuality. We are all included within God’s loving invitation to come into His house.

CONCLUDING RITE

Blessed be the name of the Lord, NOW AND FOREVER! Our help is in the name of the Lord, WHO MADE HEAVEN AND EARTH! May almighty God bless you. THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT! . . . Amen.”

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(Inside back cover)


(Back Cover)

This 78 year-old has figured out his life has followed a pattern, a progressive development toward a better life. Read about his story, and try to relate if his decisions were his best of choices given him to make for himself alone, or is there hope for anyone else in times like these. GO TO THE LIGHT! Says the author, Charles (Zeke) Bundschu.