On June 2, I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Navy. On my 30-day graduation leave, God used me in a week of gospel meetings in a Methodist Church in Giltner, Nebraska. Before the meetings began, three of my younger brothers and four of their friends received Christ. During the week, another 20+ teenagers and my father received Christ.
As soon as my leave was over I reported for duty in San Francisco. My ship was currently in the Western Pacific. I reported aboard the USS Brush (DD745) on 15 July. The Seventh Fleet got underway on 16 July and landed the First Cavalry Division ashore in Pohang Dong on 18 July. (The Korean War had started on 26 June.) We rode out a typhoon in the Tsushima straits on 19 July. The next six weeks, we supported the aircraft carriers USS Valley Forge and the HMS Triumph. On 6 July, the Brush was ordered to the front lines in Pohang Harbor, where we spent two weeks shooting, one time for thirty hours straight. I was the one pulling the trigger for our six five-inch guns.
On 25 September, the Brush was sent north to the Russian border to enforce a UN-declared blockade. On the way back, near Tanchon, we were at battle stations, closing the range to destroy some railroad cars with gunfire. While we were at battle stations, the gunnery officer ordered me to leave my station in gunnery plot and report to him in the main battery director. When I reported to him, he could not remember why he had ordered me there. A few minutes later at 12:20 noon, we hit a submerged mine which destroyed my battle station. God had spared my life.
After thirty days in dry dock in Sasabo, we stopped in Yokosuka en route to the United States. While in Yokosuka, I visited Tokyo and looked up a famous Irish missionary, Irene Webster-Smith (Sensei). Now I am going to tell you the most important event of my life in 1950 - I met Bessie! I told Sensei I had told a mutual friend that I would look up another missionary, Bessie Dodds. Sensei said that Bessie had lived with her in Tokyo for fourteen months while Bessie was in language school, and that she would take me to see Bessie the next day if I would meet her in Yokohama.
We went to the Women’s Union Missionary Society and met the missionaries there: Mary Ballentyne, Bessie, and Maxine. Here I was, having supper with four women missionaries in their 60s, 40s, 30s, and 20s. I was very impressed with Bessie. At supper, I asked Bessie how old she was. She said, “I am thirty-one; how old are you?” I said, “Twenty-three. Why didn’t you wait for me?” She replied, “I didn’t know you were coming.” She was kidding, but I wasn’t. We were married in Yokohama in April 1952.
A favorite passage of mine is Psalm 71:14-18:
But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.