Faith Story: We Were There


It was just before dawn. Slowly the anxious moments ticked by for the American soldiers who waited in boats for the signal that would start their battle. They were trying to take one of the Japanese island bases in the Pacific during World War II. In one of the boats were two young Latter-day Saint marines.

At twenty minutes to six, the signal came to start firing. Suddenly it was as though the island base and all the boats waiting to attack exploded into flame and fire. Dive bombers dropped their loads, machine guns cut down the men who started wading toward shore, and the island base of Kwajalein seemed to heave and roll with the fury of the battle.

The two marines were hit in the first wave of gunfire and one was very badly wounded. The other, who was less seriously hurt, held the head of his comrade above water until help came. Finally, a United Press newspaperman and some medics found them both in the water. They tried to give first aid to the least injured boy, but he refused help until his buddy was checked. The rescuers thought the boy was too badly hurt to ever recover. A war correspondent wrote the rest of the story on February 8, 1944.

“Then it happened. This young man, the stronger of the two, bronzed by the tropical sun, clean as a shark’s tooth in the South Seas, slowly got to his knees. His own arm was nearly gone, but with the other, he lifted the head of his unconscious pal into his lap, placed his good hand on the other’s pale brow and uttered what to us seemed to be incredible words—words that to this moment are emblazoned in unforgettable letters across the doorway of my memory:

“In the name of Jesus Christ, and by virtue of the holy priesthood which I hold, I command you to remain alive until the necessary help can be obtained to secure the preservation of your life.’”

The two young marines were later taken to a hospital with the newspaper reporter who concluded his story in this way:

“The three of us are here in Honolulu and today we walked down the beach together. … He is the wonder of the medical unit, for—they say—he should be dead. Why he isn’t they don’t know—but we do—for we were there, off the shores of Kwajalein.”