Our Boys in the Army

Testimonies from the front lines

The Editors
Our Boys in the Army

My Experience in the Army

I am glad that I am a Seventh-day Adventist. The hope of a home in heaven when the Lord comes leads me to pray that I may be more faithful.

It was just last June that I became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was rather difficult for me, a new believer, to adapt myself to new conditions, but I have learned to pray in faith since my call came to serve my country in the Army. 

Because I had had some training in the Medical Cadet Corps and because I wanted to be in harmony with the principles of the church, I requested, after having been inducted, that I be placed in the Medical Corps. The draft board had first classified me as I-A, but after I had prayed about it, my classification was changed to I-A-O. The officers wanted to place me in the Quartermaster Corps, because I had been in the grocery business for 20 years. Feeling that I could hold to my religious principles better in the Medical Corps, I continued to request placement there.

The captain asked me whether I would be willing to serve in the Quartermaster Corps if he would arrange for my Sabbath observance. I could only answer, “Yes.” He replied, “Leave it to me. If you find yourself in the Medical Department, you may know that I couldn’t arrange for your Sabbaths.” Of course, I prayed that the Lord would place me where He wanted me. 

I felt that I had been called into the Army because God had a work for me to do there. I have carried that in mind. Now I know that He must have something for me to do. 

Before I learned the results of my request to serve in the Medical Corps, I was shipped to another camp. I had no idea where I was going. To my joy I found that I had been placed in the M. R. T. C. (Medical Replacement Training Center). 

Unfortunately, I became a patient at the station hospital the first night. My stay there stretched out to three weeks. Upon my release from the hospital, I was placed in a tent with five other boys. Only one of the five reads his Bible every day and kneels by his bed to pray at night. He and I are the only ones in the tent who seem to be at all religiously inclined. 

The day following my release from the hospital, the battalion captain called me for an interview. He told me that he would have to transfer me to another group of men, because I had missed three weeks’ training. I replied, “Sir, I would like to stay with the boys with whom I came from Michigan.” Then I showed him my Medical Cadet training card, and told him what experience I had had. 

He said that I had already received as much training as the other men in the battalion, or more, and that he would try me out. I also showed him a home-nursing certificate I had received from the General Conference. He asked me whether I was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. When I replied, “Yes, sir,” he told me that his folks were Adventists, and he assured me that I could have my Sabbaths free. He told me to report to the company commander right away. When I reached the office, the captain had already telephoned about me. Not only was I told that I could have my Sabbaths free, but I was even permitted to take at another time examinations that were scheduled for Sabbath. 

I am about to be transferred from this camp, for my battalion has completed its training. We are awaiting orders and do not know where we will be sent. I am sure, from my previous experiences, that the Lord will be with me. I look into the future with that confidence.1


Seeking to be Faithful

August 8, 1941, I was inducted into the Army. This was three years after I had become a Seventh-day Adventist. My first experience was in the induction center, near my home, where I was examined and classified. When I went before the classification officer, I told him all about my religious beliefs. He asked me several questions about my religion, which I answered readily. He was very kind to me, and asked me if I had taken the Medical Cadet training that our church was givingI told him that I had not taken it, as I had to work on Sundays, which was the day they were giving it. He said it would have been better if I had taken it. He put me in the Medical Corps, and asked me to sign a statement to the effect that I would do necessary work on the Sabbath. However, so far I have not had to work at all on the Sabbath. 

After I was classified, I was sent to a medical training replacement center, where I received valuable information on the duties of a medical soldier in hospital and field. As soon as I arrived at this camp, I went to my commanding officer and asked to be excused from Sabbath work. He told me to go and see the chaplain of our battalion. I did this, but did not get a satisfactory answer. 

Since the next day was the Sabbath, I did not know what to do. That night I prayed that I might be able to keep the Sabbath as it should be kept, and that I might prove faithful, even if I were punished. On Friday I had shined my shoes, straightened out my foot locker, and made everything look as neat as possible. Sabbath morning I made my bed; then while everyone else was eating breakfast, I took my Bible and went out to the edge of the camp. I sat down underneath a patch of trees, where I spent most of the Sabbath studying my Bible. 

Coming back to the barracks, I found out that I had been reported A. W. O. L. However, when the commanding officer found out why I was absent, he did not punish me, but gave me the privilege of having time off from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. I could also leave camp and attend church between these hours. 

There were several other Adventist boys in the camp who were granted the same privilege. We used to get together on Friday evening and go into town, where one of our churches was located. We would attend young people’s meeting Friday evening and then stay overnight in the home of some church member. The next morning we would attend church. I seem to enjoy attending church now more than I ever did before. I guess we do not know how to enjoy our church privileges until we get into a place where we must have permission to attend religious services. 

After a very enjoyable day in association with our own church members, we would return to camp to spend another week among the soldiers. 

I have had several chances to witness for the Lord. The boys in camp often ask me questions about why I live as I do. I try to give them a Bible study on every subject they ask me about, and I have given out a large amount of literature. One boy requested a series of Bible studies, which I was glad to give to him. 

I have been transferred twice recently. The camp where I am now located is not quite finished, so we have not done any hospital work yet. I have had to go before my commanding officer twice, once because I would not work on the Sabbath, and again because I would not receive my pay on the Sabbath. It irritated the officers to have to hold my pay over until Sunday. I told them from then on, when payday came on Sabbath, to redline me, and pay me the following month. 

I am now getting the Sabbath off without any trouble, and have also received a rating. I am expecting another promotion soon. 

I ask your prayers, that I may stand faithful until the end.2


Standing Alone

As time presses on toward the end, I find myself in unforeseen circumstances. My Selective Service number was among the first to be drawn, and as I desired very much to get into the hospital division of the Army, I enlisted in that branch of the service. To get into that division through the draft was practically impossible at that time.

Arriving at my post of duty, I was somewhat bewildered and not a little frightened as to what the future might bring. The routine was so vastly different from what I had been used to that it was very difficult for me to adjust myself to it.

 Upon first being inducted into the Army, every man is supposed to go through a certain amount of basic drill and common labor, called “fatigue duty.” Such work is assigned on Sabbath as well as on weekdays. I knew that when the Sabbath came I would be confronted with a serious problem. That thought kept going through my mind day and night. I prayed about it. When Sabbath came, I was informed that I was to go to work in the hospital that night. Surely it was an answer to prayer, because, out of some thirty men, I was the only one asked to go on duty at that time. The Lord surely made it easy for me to do the right thing on the Sabbath. Even though I could not get the Sabbath off, I still was able to keep it by doing good. 

During my three months of night duty in the hospital there, it was my good fortune to have the opportunity to tell several people of the truth, some of whom became very much interested. 

Soon after I arrived at the camp, one of our ministers began holding Friday night and Sabbath meetings at the post chapel. All the Adventist boys who were able to attend counted this a blessing, and we thanked God for the privilege. Those meetings were a great help to us spiritually. After about five months of enjoyable Sabbaths I was transferred to a new post. Again I wondered just what the future might bring. I prayed that God would be with me and help me. He surely did, for again I was immediately put on duty in the hospital. 

By this time I was beginning to realize that my hardest battle was going to be to keep up my own personal spirituality. I have offered many prayers to God for His help, and He has surely kept me strong in this time of need. 

I can count my experience in the Army as one that has made me realize more and more every day my need of God’s help to sustain my spiritual life. The Army puts a man out on his own, because there is no one who is going to look out for him. He has no one to lean on but his God. As I look at it now, I see that back home I was keeping warm by the fires of others, as many others are still doing. But here in the Army, where we do not have those fires to keep us warm, we must kindle some of our own. With God’s gracious help that is what I have tried to do, and I believe I have succeeded. It is my daily prayer that God will be as merciful and good to the other boys in the Army as He has been to me. Please remember in your prayers all our boys in uniform. Pray that they may remain faithful and true to the end. We have a daily fight to remain on top, and prayer is the only support that is strong enough to enable us to retain that position.3

1 Review and Herald, Jan. 7, 1943.

2 Review and Herald, Jan. 14, 1943.

3 Review and Herald, Jan. 28, 1943.

The Editors