“My worst day in America is better than my best day in Vietnam. Folks over here don’t know how good they’ve got it.” This came out of a conversation I was having with Tommy Marchman, former Police Chief of Sylvester and Vietnam Veteran. We had been discussing politics when the issue of freedom came up. We spoke about his service in Vietnam and he knows how much I appreciate that sacrifice. We spoke about defending ourselves over here. Suffice it to say, you don’t want to break into his house. You just don’t.
The subject of the AK 47 came up and how my son loves to shoot it. Tommy informed me it’s the best gun ever made. He said that if you had an M 16 in rice patties, you were in mortal danger of it jamming. Not the AK 47. He said you could run over it with a truck, pick it up and keep shooting. It’s only weakness, he said, was the magazine would rattle on patrol at night. He then said he would take a sip out of his canteen and pour out the rest so there would be not slosh.
I asked Tommy what’s the closest he’s come to the enemy without an engagement. “There was always an engagement. You fixed bayonets.” He told me how they had to walk through a rice field one day so he took the lead. He said he would do that for his men. Sometimes I feel as if he’s doing that for me today. He was ahead of the man behind him and a mortar blew the man’s dentures up past Tommy. They then carried the soldier for a distance because his entrails had been blown out. Tommy said it wasn’t until an hour or two later that he realized he, too, had been wounded in the blast. It just got that crazy at times.
Tommy was told one day that he would be “going with them.” It was a group that was not his outfit. “Where?” “You’re going to take back the American Embassy.” The Tet Offensive was on. On the way, Tommy saw a little girl sitting all alone with her calf muscle blown out. He stopped, took off his belt, and used it as a tourniquet on her. She grabbed his arm and hugged it. She wouldn’t let go. Tommy had to break away and leave her there.
Several years after the war, there was this little Vietnamese girl that came into Tommy’s path. Someone suggested that Tommy give her a hug. Tommy insisted he couldn’t do that. After all that Tommy had been through engaging the enemy, how could he now be terrified of this little girl? The little girl walked up to Tommy! She grabbed his arm and gave it the biggest hug, just like the other little girl did all those years ago during the Tet Offensive. He volunteered to me, “God had shown me that the little girl in Vietnam is OK, Keith! I love that little girl.”
Tommy wasn’t a Christian during the War but he announces often that he had a wife at home praying for him. Tommy sings in a group called “Southern Majesty.” The featured group sang a song Saturday night at Cross Cultural that Southern Majesty used to sing often. Tommy estimated that around 1200 people over the years have given their lives to Christ with that song being used as the invitation.
As God had a plan for Tommy, God has a plan for you. He loves you just as He loves those Vietnamese girls. Call on Jesus today! “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Written by Keith Hood. Keith operates Cross Cultural Musique in Leesburg with his wife, Janice. He has a blog at http://soulfoodfromthehood.spaces.live.com.