Not a Gentleman’s War: An Inside View of Junior Officers in the Vietnam War by Ron Milam

Not a Gentleman’s War: An Inside View of Junior Officers in the Vietnam War is the story of the 5,069 junior officers who died in Vietnam as well as the ones who survived.  We learn all officers were volunteers. Even a draftee who attended Officer Candidate School had to volunteer to go to OCS.

Based on Ron Milam’s detailed and thorough research, Not a Gentleman’s War: An Inside View of Junior Officers in the Vietnam War gives an excellent analysis of these men.  The author has the rare combination of scholarly research and with an easy reading text.  The book has two main parts.

Part one views the future officers and leaders in the United States Army.  It examines their pre-commissioning training programs: West Point, Officer Candidate School (OCS), and Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).  The selection, training, and evaluation process of each are explained in detail.  We see how the army ramped up for the increased demand in officers.  We feel the arrogance of the West Point educated toward the Infantry Officer Basic Course and the slow change of curriculum at the United States Military Academy.  We learn that the majority of officers earned their commissions through ROTC. A lowering of selection standards for Officer Candidate School did not occur. A sharp reminder that the changing views on college campuses impacted the worldviews of men commissioned through ROTC.

Part two has the young officer in Vietnam.  The four chapters in this section examine the junior officer’s performance as combat leaders.  We experience the life and death tests they faced.  We confront the myths about the men.  We experience the different leadership challenges of being on a mission in the field and being in a firebase or in garrison such as preventing alcohol and drug abuse as well as racial tensions.

Myths about the Vietnam War say the junior officer was a no-talent, inadequately trained, and unenthusiastic soldier.  Lt. William Calley of My Lai often is held up as the typical junior officer baby killer.  Ron Milam debunks this view with detailed research including oral histories, after-action reports, diaries, letters, and other records.

The author has excellent primary resource materials.   He clearly shows that most of the lieutenants who served in combat performed their duties well.  The junior officers were competent.  They served with great skill.  While they were not always clean shaven and often had mud on their boots, they were dedicated and committed to the men they led.  Ron Milam’s story provides a vibrant, you-are-there portrayal of what the platoon leader faced and his ability to meet the challenges as documented by field reports and evaluations of their superior officers.

Not a Gentleman’s War: An Inside View of Junior Officers in the Vietnam War is a book that all students of the Vietnam War should read.  I encourage all military officers to read the book as well.  The book should be in every college library in the world.  Ron Milam has written an excellent book.  Dr. Milam is an assistant professor of military history at Texas Tech University.

On a personal level, the book helped me better understand my experience as a US Army officer.  I received my pre-commissioning training through the United States Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (Army ROTC) between 1971 and 1975.  Some of the training I received was based on decisions explained in the book.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffeehouse, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Just For Fun – Pictures of Where I Have Lived

I thought it would be fun to collect pictures of the houses I have lived in from birth to my current 60 plus years. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, but it was fun putting these together. Below is visual proof  of my lack of “roots”, that is my not feeling like I have a hometown. I was a military brat and United States Army Officer from birth until my late 20s. Then I worked as a Southern Baptist Religious Educator until my mid-40s. Military and minister are two vocations that are very nomadic. Moving frequently goes with the job and life. I have lived/be stationed in over 25 locations. I attended 8 schools for 12 grades. The photos are either ones I took, my mother has, or compliments of Google Maps, street view. My memory or mother provided me with the addresses/locations.

BAMC
Brooke Army General Hospital, San Antonio

I was born in 1953 at Brooke Army General Hospital in San Antonio, Texas.

Randolph AFB
Randolph AFB

My father was in the US Air Force stationed at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio. Leaving the hospital, I moved in with my dad and mother.

Snip20140823_9

We lived on Mesquite Street in San Antonio, Texas. It is located just east of downtown. The Alamodome is in the area where the house was built. I have a picture of the vacant lot where the house use to be.

Clinton County Air Force Base in Ohio

In 1954 – 1955, my father was stationed at Clinton County Air Force Base in Ohio.

20 Church Street Bowersville, Ohio

We lived in Bowersville, Ohio. I lived at 20 Church Street.

1946-Ford-Coupe-Harwood-TX

In part of 1955 and then 1956 I lived with my Grandfather in Harwood, Texas. My brother was born while we lived here.  Well, he was born in Brooke Army General Hospital, just like me.

Donaldson AFB

My father was in Turkey with the US  Air Force at this time.When dad got back from Turkey he was stationed at Donaldson Air Force Base in Greenville, South Carolina.

201 Maco Terrace Greenville SC

We moved to 201 Maco Terrace in Greenville, South Carolina. This where I have my first memories.

Scott AFB

While living in Greenville, SC we took a side trip to Scott Air Force Base where my father had extended military training.

Scott AFB Illinois

While at Scott Air Force Base we lived in a military trailer park. We spent a snowy winter of 1956-1957 there before returning to our Greenville, SC home.

F-3530-SPT-95-000052-XX-0092

In 1958, we moved to Glendale, Arizona as my dad took a new assignment at Luke Air Force Base.

Glendale Az

We lived first in Glendale. I started elementary school at Glendale Elementary School in Glendale, Arizona in 1959. Dwight Eisenhower was the president of the USA.

2420 Navajo Luke AFB

Then in 1960 we moved into the new base housing on Luke AFB where we stayed until 1963.  I attended Luke Air Force Base Elementary School from February 1960 through the fourth grade. I had Mrs. Davis in the second grade and Mrs. Jensen in grades 3 and 4.

803 Jefferson Ave Seguin Texas

Dad headed to South Vietnam, and I headed to 803 Jefferson Avenue in Seguin, Texas.803 Jefferson Avenue, Seguin, Texas is where I lived in 1963 – 1964. I was in the 5th grade and living there when President Kennedy was assassinated and when The Beatles came to the USA. The house was white with a green roof back then. It had trees in the yard and hedge around the house back in the day. It had a backyard that was over an acre. I had a great treehouse in the backyard tree as well as a huge garden. My father was stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base in South Vietnam. I attend Jefferson Avenue Elementary School. It was located across the street from my house. Mrs. Englebrock was my fifth-grade teacher. She taught me to love to read and to write stories.

Biggs AFB

Next I moved to El Paso, Texas in August 1964. My father was transferred to Biggs Air Force Base and B-52s. I don’t have a picture of our house on Raimey Circle. It has been torn down. I am still searching for a photo.  I attended Ben Milam School. Mr. Romero was my sixth-grade teacher. In the seventh grade, I played football and started having different teachers for each class.

Pease Air Force Base Portsmouth

From here I moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Pease Air Force Base.

2024 Larkspur Circle Pease AFB New Hampshire
2024 Larkspur Circle Pease AFB New Hampshire

It was a neat place with lots of snow in the winter. I got to go to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine to the Longfellow and Chamberlain Homes. I went to the Robert Frost farm. I attended science camp at M.I.T. and Harvard University’s Summer Institute for the Gifted studying literature, poetry, and writing in their Humanities program. I lived at 2024 Larkspur Circle on Pease Air Force Base in 1966 – 1967. I attended Portsmouth Junior High School. I was the eighth-grade class vice-president. I went to all the historical places in Boston and fell in love with history. I was here until my father retired from the US Air Force. He earned a degree in business from New Hampshire College while we lived there.  From here it was back to Texas.  I finished the last few weeks of the eighth grade in Nixon, Texas at Nixon Junior High School. We stayed with my grandparents until our furniture arrived and we moved into the below house.

1407 Chestnut Drive Schertz Texas
1407 Chestnut Drive Schertz Texas

We lived in the San Antonio suburb of Schertz. I lived at 1407 Chestnut Drive Schertz Texas. I started high school at Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz, Texas in 1967. I would move to the Dallas area at mid-semester. We also owned the house that was two to the left of this one.

1010 Southwood Drive DeSoto, Texas

I lived at 1010 Southwood Drive in DeSoto, Texas until I headed to college and married. My father still resides there.

201 1/2 Ray Drive Arlington TX

When I was 17, I got my first place. It was a duplex. In 1971 – 1972 I lived at 201 1/2 Ray Drive in Arlington, Texas while attending The University of Texas at Arlington.

Four Oaks Apt Arlington TX

I moved into an apartment with my brother in 1973. It was the Four Oaks Apartments off Pecan Street in Arlington.

283 Hapton Road DeSoto Texas

In December 1974, I married Benita Breeding, and we moved into an apartment in DeSoto, Texas on 283 South Hampton Road. We lived upstairs, the second unit from the end nearest as you look, was our home.

Fort Riley
Fort Riley, Kansas

I spent the summers of 1974 and 1975 on active duty at Fort Riley, Kansas thanks to the US Army.

Fort Benning

I graduated from college in 1975 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Army. We moved to Columbus, Georgia. That’s where Fort Benning is located. We there 1975 – 1976.

Holly Hills Apartments Columbus Georgia

We lived the Holly Hills Apartments with lots of second lieutenants in a unit off Oakley Court. I attended the US Army Infantry Officer Basic Course, Airborne School, and the Platoon Leader Maintenance Management Course while living there.

Fort Lewis

We moved from there 3000 plus miles to Fort Lewis in Washington State. We were here 1976, 1977, 1978.

Fort Lewis Company Grade Married Officer's Quarters

We lived in two different military quarters while there. The first was one bedroom. We got a two bedroom unit after our son Kristopher was born.  While stationed at Fort Lewis I spent more time deployed or on training exercises

Camp Pendleton

I made two trips to Camp Pendleton for training. I was there in 1976 and 1977.

Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

In 1978, I spent some time at Twentynine Palms Marine Base.

Fort Irwin CA

Twice I spent months at Fort Irwin in the middle of nowhere for training. Actually think between Edwards AFB and Death Valley, CA for its location or halfway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Naval Amphibious Base Coronado

Two times I suffered on the beaches of Coronado and San Diego. This was in 1976 and 1977.

Mountain Home AFB Idaho
Mountain Home AFB Idaho

In 1977, I was in a joint training exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho

yakimatrainingctr

While at Fort Lewis at the sub-post of Yakima Firing Center (as it was named in the 1970s) in 1976, 1977, 1978.  Tank gunnery and T.O.W. Missiles had me there.

Jack Frost 76

My unit had assignments like protecting the Alaskan Pipeline. Operation Jack Frost helped soldiers prepare for this mission, learn to preheat toilet paper and work in extreme cold.

OP near Camp Casey South Korea
OP near Camp Casey South Korea

My unit also had a mission to help if the North Koreans came back across the 38th parallel.

REFORGER

My unit also took part in REFORGER – Return of forces to Europe with treks to Italy and Germany in the fall of 1978.

Gordon Ave Fort Worth

From here we moved to Fort Worth Texas where I earned my master’s degree. We lived in student housing at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on Gordon Avenue. This house had a floor the was not level. Our second son Jason was born while we lived here. We left here and moved to Decatur, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb when I graduated in 1980.

773 Scott Circle Decatur Georgia

We lived at 773 Scott Circle until our landlady moved back in when here husband passed away. Then we moved to a townhouse in Clarkston, Georgia. I served as Minister of Education at Scott Boulevard Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia.

Memorial College Drive Clarkston GA

The townhouses were large and state of the art for their time. It was an affluent baby-boomer paradise. This stock photo from Google doesn’t do them justice. They were located off Memorial Drive across from the DeKalb Community College. They were 99% owner-occupied townhomes with a very strict and sometimes mean homeowners association. I was still Minister of Education at Scott Boulevard Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia while living here.

Old Settlers Road Bogalusa Louisiana

In December 1982, we moved to Bogalusa, Louisiana. We lived in a paper mill town and could smell it. I was Associate Pastor at Superior Avenue Baptist Church.

College Street Jasper, TX

In November 1984, we moved to Jasper, Texas. We lived in this house until 1988 when we bought her first home. Our daughter Sara Joy was born while we lived here. I was Associate Pastor and Day School Principal at First Baptist Church of Jasper, Texas.

606 Pearl Street Jasper Texas

The picture doesn’t do the house justice. The lot and house are larger than they look. The house was the Better Homes and Gardens House of the year in 1959 and was featured in Southern Living Magazine. The people who bought the house after us took out all the azaleas and dogwoods we had and replaced with hedge and non-native trees. The also removed over a dozen seven-five-year-old  or older trees. They added the black shutters, wrought iron windows, and doors and made it like a prison. The multi-level tree house my kids had the backyard was also removed when the trees were cut  down. I was still Associate Pastor and Day School Principal at First Baptist Church of Jasper, Texas. I owned the house until March 1995. We moved from here in 1992 to Buna, Texas.

Vacant Lot

This was on Halley Street in Buna, Texas. We lived in a church-owned home. It has been moved. The pastor lived in the house to the right. In the background is the church. I was Associate Pastor and Business  Administrator at First Baptist Church of Buna, Texas.  I lived here 1992 – 1993.

168 Chickadee Drive Denison, Texas

Next I lived at 168 Chickadee in Dension, Texas from May 1993 until January 1996.  Our oldest son graduated high school while we lived here. My father-in-law passed away while we lived here. I was Minister of Education and Senior Adults at Parkside Baptist Church in Denison, Texas. The house was small, did not have central air, and was close to the church.

721 Marvin Hancock Drive Jasper Texas

I lived at 721 Marvin Hancock Drive in Jasper, Texas. We lived in the unit on the bottom left. We lived here for the spring semester of 1996. I was Vendor Management Specialist for East Texas Support Services overseeing the CCMS program for day care centers in 16 counties. I also taught early childhood education.

4916 Watson (2007)

I bought our current home on Watson Drive in The Colony, Texas in July 1996.  I  have worked as a senior training specialist for American Express, Internet coordinator for Hilton Hotels, as a senior support engineer for Equator LLC, and in multiple Information Technology roles for Interstate Batteries while living here. Our youngest two children finished high school, got college degrees, and our daughter married since we moved here. Sadly, the huge tree in the center of our front yard had to be cut down in 2007.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.


Family Photos Before an Overseas Assignment

Quito, Ecuador Family Photo circa 1958
Quito, Ecuador Family Photo circa 1958

In the late 1950s, my father received orders with an assignment to the United States Embassy in Quito, Ecuador. One of the good things the government did back then was make a family photo before each overseas posting.

In the picture is my dad. He is in his early thirties old. My mother is in her mid-twenties. My brother is three. I am five years old.

Do you remember having family pictures made? They are one of the most traumatic experiences of my youth. We had to get on just the right clothes. We had to stay clean. We had to sit still.

At five years old a necktie was like a noose. I found it choked me. I remember I kept removing it and getting my parents upset. I was a smart kid. I still remember suggesting why don’t we just wait and put it on when we take a picture. Apparently, that was both the right and wrong thing to say. My little brother followed my lead and removed his tie. My folks finally caved and let us keep them off until we arrived at the military photographer.

Staying clean was the second problem. Crawling on the floor and playing with our army men and cars were regular activities. When we got down on our hands and knees to resume playing mother had visions of us wearing holes in the knees of our pants. She made us get up and sit on the couch while dad and mom finished getting dressed. “Sit and don’t move” was her command.

When it was time to get in the car for a short drive to the studio, my brother ran toward the car and fell getting his grass stains on the knees of his pants. Mother calmed a visibly upset dad. She pointed out they probably wouldn’t be taking pictures of his green knees.

Well, we arrived for photos. They placed us just like they wanted after first putting our ties back on us. We wiggled like worms and giggled. Finally, they said to say cheese. Then they tried again having us say watermelon. I guess they finally got the solemn look they wanted and snapped a picture.

We never moved to Quito, Ecuador. Dad’s orders were canceled. Instead, we moved to Luke Air Force Base near Glendale, Arizona.

This process repeated five years later when my dad received orders to Vietnam. You guessed it; dad and mom stressed over getting the pictures. My brother and I were typical little wiggly boys.

Do you have memories of having family pictures being taken? I would love to hear them.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.


Reflections of Growing Up a Military Brat

Have you ever sat down with a cup of hot coffee and reflected on your life? Go ahead; raise your right hand if you have done it. If you are looking in my direction, you will see I have my hand lifted high. I admit I have had many of those melancholy moments.

No, I am not planning my eulogy, but at sixty-one years and nine-plus months of age, I look back from time to time. What is the catalyst for my latest round of self-examination? My mother passed away last December 14th. My wife of over forty years has two different types of cancer, both stage III.

One of the first things I do when reflecting is thinking about where I have been. Growing up as a military brat during the Cold War and Vietnam War gives me a different perspective than many.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about my childhood. It was fun and different. I lived many places. My laundry list of locations I had lived before I reached adulthood include:

  1. San Antonio, Texas
  2. Bowersville, Ohio
  3. Greenville, South Carolina x 2
  4. East Saint Louis, Illinois
  5. Glendale, Arizona
  6. Sequin, Texas
  7. El Paso, Texas
  8. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  9. Bebe, Texas
  10. Schertz, Texas
  11. DeSoto, Texas x 3
  12. Arlington, Texas

I also attended eight schools for my twelve grades of public school. The schools were in Arizona, Texas, and New Hampshire.

The advantage was getting to see and experience much of this great country called the United States of America. The disadvantages were a lifelong feeling of not having roots and not having a real hometown. I even felt an outsider at my high school where I attended from the middle of the ninth grade through graduation. I sometimes still feel that way when some of use gets together for a Saturday evening meal.

Other times I think back to winning the military draft lottery when we use to have such a thing. I had a twenty-five draft number.  It was a one of those pivotal moments in my life. It meant I was going into the US military. I had the choice of going immediately or going later. I could have gone directly by enlisting or just waiting to be drafted.

The Vietnam War was winding down at that time, but they were still sending combat troops. They would do that for another eighteen months after I graduated high school.

I selected another option. It was to defer my military service. I did this by joining the United States Army Reserve Officer Training Corps in college. This lead to me being commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Army upon college graduation. It guaranteed I would graduate from college on time and serve in the military.

My laundry list of places lived and worked since I married in 1974 include:

  1. DeSoto, Texas x 4
  2. Fort Riley, Kansas
  3. Fort Benning, Georgia
  4. Fort Lewis, Washington
  5. Yakima Firing Center, Washington x 2
  6. Camp Pendleton, California x 2
  7. Fort Irwin, California x 3
  8. Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho
  9. Coronado Naval Amphibious Base, California x 2
  10. Fort Worth, Texas
  11. Decatur, Georgia
  12. Clarkston, Georgia
  13. Bogalusa, Louisiana
  14. Jasper, Texas x 2
  15. Buna, Texas
  16. Denison, Texas
  17. Los Angeles, California
  18. The Colony, Texas

It also leads to three other items. First, it took me to Fort Lewis, Washington. There I attended First Baptist Church of Lakewood. I accepted Jesus Christ as Savior at Lakewood. I believe it was a providential appointment.

Second, it provided me with the G.I Bill educational benefit that I used to get my master’s degree. It was God’s finance plan.

Third, it provided the G.I. Bill house financing benefit I used to buy two homes. I doubt I would have ever been able to purchase a home with the 20% down payment requirements in place in the 1970s and 1980s. It was God’s finance plan, part two.

I think back about choices I made like marriage and the birth of three children. I reflect on attending, graduating from seminary, and serving six churches over an eighteen years period.

I look at leaving the full-time ministry and retraining for work in the information technology field. The Hazelwood Act paid for my retraining in IT. Another benefit of serving my country and being a Texan.

Sometimes I think of how I could have been a better husband and parent. I think of the poems, short stories, non-fiction, and books I have written.

No, I don’t have regrets. You cannot change choices, so any reexamination isn’t  the right thing to do.

I also think about the future. I‘ll write about that on another day.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.


True Comfort

2 Cor 1-3-5I want to share with you a story of “True Comfort.”  I recently was reading 2 Corinthians 1: 3 – 5 in my Bible. Here are some principles I gleaned from the Bible passage.

Introduction

Have you ever known people who despite tragedy were able to offer comfort to others?

I know a woman who within two years lost her husband, her father, and her two sons. When I saw her at the funeral of the last one to die, I was impressed by the way she graciously went around welcoming those who came to pay their respects. She offered comfort to others when you would think she would be the one needing it.

On the other hand, some people are devastated by personal hardships. When they suffer difficulties they find no peace, no consolation. They certainly are in no position to help others.

What is the difference? Where do those who can comfort others while enduring their tragedy receive the strength to help others?

The apostle Paul was one individual who had learned the secret. He passed what he learned along to us in his second letter to the Corinthians. It is in 2 Corinthians chapter one, verses three through five where we learn about “True Comfort.”

2 Corinthians 1: 3-5 English Standard Version of the Bible tells us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ, we share abundantly in comfort too.”

Principle One is The Source of True Comfort

Many people seek comfort “in all the wrong places” to borrow a line from a song popular three and one-half decades ago.

  • Some people find comfort in thinking their problems are no worse than those of others.
  • Some people in thinking things will improve without ever taking the required actions to bring about the positive change.
  • Still other believe their situation is so bad that it can’t be helped.
  • Some people try to forget. Some people try finding comfort in exciting and dissipating pleasures of the flesh.
  • Some in complaining and repining.

True comfort comes from God. He is called the “God of all comfort” in the Bible passage. Have you ever wondered why him?

It is because He is also the “Father of mercies.” The term “father” implies “source” as in the source of all mercies. He is the source of all kinds of goodness and mercy says James 1:17. Comfort is just one of His many mercies, and so He is described as:

  • The “God of all comfort” – 2 Corinthians 1:3
  • “The God of patience and comfort” – Romans 15:5
  • As the God of All comfort, there is no limitation to the comfort He provides.

The source of “True Comfort”, then, is God.  But when does it come, and how?

Principle Two is The Bestowal of “True Comfort.”

True Comfort is bestowed “in all our tribulation.” God comforts us when it is most needed were are told in 2 Corinthians 1:4. The Bible teaches God will not desert us in our times of need.

  • “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5b
  • He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to bear – 1 Corinthians 10:13
  • Yes, even in “the valley of the shadow of death,” He is there to comfort us we are told in Psalms 23:4

Indeed, the greater the affliction, the greater the comfort we learn in 2 Corinthians 1:5. As the sufferings abound so does the consolation!

True Comfort is bestowed “through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5 says “…so our consolation also abounds through Christ.”

Just as with all other spiritual blessings, it is found only “in Christ” – Ephesians 1:3.

To receive the comfort that comes from God, then, we must be “in Christ.” Being “in Christ,” there are two avenues through which comfort is dispensed. The first is The Word of God as seen in Romans 15:4. The second is Prayer as seen in Philippians 4: 6 – 7.

Principle Three is The Purpose of “True Comfort”

To comfort others “…that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble” teaches 2 Corinthians 1:4. The comfort God provides through Christ is not just for our private consumption.

“God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.” – John Henry Jowett (1817-1893)

Yes, our comfort is designed to be shared!

A case in point is how God comforted Paul in 2 Corinthians 7: 4 – 7, 13, The Corinthians comforted Titus in the way they received him. So comforted by the Corinthians’ reception, Titus’ coming then comforted Paul. Yet Paul saw that the source of this comfort was ultimately from God!

This reveals another avenue by which God bestows His comfort. It may come DIRECTLY from God (e.g., through His Word – Romans 15:4). It may also come INDIRECTLY from God, through the exhortations of others as seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:18.

Sadly, many people neglect all avenues through which God offers “true comfort.” They do not feed upon the Word and pray, to receive comfort directly. Nor do they develop the network of relationships with other Christians, through which God might comfort them indirectly when needed! But when all avenues are utilized, then “true comfort” is possible, and we can then pass it along!

Principle Four is A Consequence of True Comfort

Gratitude mingled with adoration is a consequence. The Apostle Paul began our text with these words: “Blessed be the God and Father…” says 2 Corinthians 1:3. It was the “true comfort” he had received that moved him to praise God.

Such praise is only natural. Not only because of the comfort we have received but also because of the comfort we can now pass along to others!

Conclusion

Are you lacking in this “true comfort”?   Perhaps you have been looking in the wrong places. It comes only from “the God of all comfort.”  It comes only “through Christ.”

Are you in Christ? Perhaps you are not benefiting from the comfort God gives others. There are those who would be happy to share their comfort with you. But you must be willing to develop the relationships necessary for such comfort to travel from them to you!

Are you working on your relationship with fellow Christians?

Philippians 2: 1 – 5 teaches For those who are faithful Christians, having delighted in fullness of “true comfort”, remember these exhortations

  • “Therefore, comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

Do these things, and we will all experience the “true comfort” by which we will want to say: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort…”  – 2 Corinthians 1:3.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffeehouse, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

General Omar Bradley was my mentor.

General of the Army Omar Bradley
General of the Army Omar Bradley

For an eighteen month period in 1964 – 1966 being a Boy Scout was one of the most significant happenings in my life. The Boy Scout troop on Biggs Air Force Base at El Paso, Texas consumed most of my time. I loved the uniform, the discipline, the hiking, and camping. Well, you get the picture. I liked being a Boy Scout. I advanced from being a Tenderfoot to Second Class to First Class in record time. My goal was to be one of the youngest Eagle Scouts ever.

To achieve my goal I had to earn merit badges. Merit badges are awarded based on activities within an area of study by completing a list of periodically updated requirements. The purpose of the merit badge program allows Boy Scouts to examine subjects to determine if they would like to pursue them further as a career or vocation.

Back in my day the program also introduced Boy Scouts to the life skills of contacting an adult they hadn’t met. It required arranging a meeting, having the adult as your mentor and then demonstrating my skills, similar to a job or college interview. In more recent years, more merit badges are earned in a class setting at troop meetings and summer camps.

I decided to seek the God and Country Merit Badge. I received a mimeographed list of available mentors. I called the man I selected. The made the appointment.

I told my father I needed him to take me over to Fort Bliss to meet my mentor. Dad said okay. Kind of in passing, he asked who my mentor was.

I picked up my paper. I said he told me he was retired from the US Army. Dad nodded. I told dad the mentor’s name was Omar Bradley. It has GA after his name, whatever that is. I knew rank abbreviations but had never seen GA before.

“General of the Army Omar Bradley?” asked dad with a gasp.

 “I guess,” I recall replying.

Dad told me who he was. I gasped.

General Bradley was kind. He had been an Eagle Scout. I remember asking him what he did to relax during World War II. He said he and General Eisenhower used to work calculus problems. He said you can’t think of anything else or worry when working a real math problem. That’s when I learned calculus was math.

I was too young to appreciate the access I had to my mentor but am in awe that such men would help boys grow into our country’s future leaders. Thanks, General Bradley.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.


The Library Card

Library Card
Library Card

In my mind, it’s Saturday, September 11, 1964. My family has just moved into base housing on Biggs Air Force Base in El Paso, Texas. Dad had my little brother and me get in our 1964 Ford Galaxy 500 car. It was a beautiful Turquoise Metallic. Our destination was the base library. We have set off on a short drive to get my brother and me our first library card.

I kept my library card in my bedroom. Mother was not going to keep it for me in her purse. The card means I am old enough to pick out any book I want. I thought this was kind of cool.

We were given a tour of the library. We had the Dewey Decimal System explained. We visited the book stacks with the children’s, science fiction, history and biography books.

I remember dad had us walk back home from the library where he made sure we knew the way and made it safely.

We visited the library several times a week. It was a twenty-minute walk to the library. We always had adventures en route to the library, but not so much on the trip home. We couldn’t wait to get back to the house. At home, we could dip into the adventures between the book’s covers.

I remember how hush-hush the libraries were back then. It seemed all speech ended at the door. There were no computers in libraries in the 1960’s. No one was sending text messages or taking pictures on a cell phone. I can still hear the swishing of card catalog drawers being opened and closed, the squeak of the book-cart wheels announcing the slow but sure restocking of shelves. They were some of my favorite sounds.

I recall all those book spines announcing the titles covered with the plastic covers. I would walk down the aisles looking, gawking.

Suddenly, there they were. Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and Dandelion Wine. I think I heard Handel’s Messiah’s Hallelujah Chorus when I found the books. I started reading both. I have been a fan of Bradbury and science fiction since that time.

I still remember the woman librarian’s pencil. It had a little stamp thingy attached to it. There was a pocket glued to the front of the book. In it was a card. She took the card out of the pocket wrote my name down on that card. She filed it away. She then stamped the due date on the slip of paper inside the pocket glued to the front page of the book. I had the books for two weeks. Two adventurous weeks!

At home, I would retire to my bedroom and read for hours.  I would be it the cupola orchestrating the lights of town turning off at night. I would experience the rocket winter of traveling from Ohio to Mars.

I traveled to all those places for free in my mind. The base library became a favorite destination for me. Libraries are still a place of refuge and solitude for me and hundreds of military brats.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His books Charlie’s Bells: A Short Story Anthology and Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.