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NEWS | Oct. 31, 2012

Having a spiritual dimension is key

By Maj. Craig Abee 315th Airlift Wing chaplain

In the days leading up to the Battle for Bastogne, Gen. George Patton met with his chaplain, James O'Neill, the chief chaplain of the 3rd Army and asked, "Chaplain, how much praying is being done in the Third Army?"

The chaplain responded, "Does the general mean by chaplains, or by the men?"

"By everybody," Patton replied.

To this, the chaplain countered: "I am afraid to admit it, but I do not believe that much praying is going on. When there is fighting, everyone prays, but now with this constant rain - when things are quiet, dangerously quiet, men just sit and wait for things to happen."

Patton responded, "Chaplain, I am a strong believer in prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want; by planning, by working and by praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that's working, but between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes."

Patton continued, "Some people call that getting the breaks; I call it God. God has His part or margin in everything; that's where prayer comes in. Up to now, in the 3rd Army, God has been very good to us. We have never retreated; we have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home are praying for us, but we have to pray for ourselves, too."

A good soldier is not made merely by making him think and work. There is something in every soldier that goes deeper than thinking or working - it's his "guts." It is something that he has built in there: it is a world of truth and power that is higher than himself. Great living is not all output of thought and work. A man has to have intake as well. I don't know what you call it, but I call it religion, prayer or God.

So, this morning, I encourage you to consider the importance of a spiritual dimension in your military service. Don't just sit and wait for things to happen, but plan, work, and pray as we continue to serve our world and nation.

Thank you, and God Bless you.