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A former soldier is reminded of the comfort Guideposts brought him during his stint in Vietnam.
Fresh out of high school I went down to the Army recruiting station in Rockford, Illinois, and enlisted. It was 1966 and the U.S. was fighting a controversial war in Vietnam. But I felt a duty to serve my country, just as my father and grandfather had.
I graduated from basic training and joined the 52nd Artillery Group in the village of Pleiku, a critical supply hub in central Vietnam. Our job was to secure the highways that intersected Pleiku. It was a lush, mountainous region, nothing like home.
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One day after patrol I found a small magazine on my bunk. It was called Guideposts. My mom had ordered me a subscription. Bart Starr, the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, was on the cover. I was more of a Bears fan, but I read his story and a couple of others.
The people in the magazine were like the folks I knew back in Rockford. It was like a letter from home, full of warmth and encouragement. I knew whatever problems I might face I definitely wasn’t alone. I had a buddy.
I shared the magazine with another guy in my squad. Every month I looked forward to getting Guideposts and sharing it. It never failed to boost our spirits.
I served three years and came home in October 1969 as a sergeant E-5. I settled in Denver, Colorado, got married and took a job as a mail carrier. I even delivered Guideposts. By then I had my own subscription.
Recently I read a story about how Guideposts supports our troops around the world by sending them magazines and daily devotional books free of charge. The article said Guideposts could be found in veterans’ hospitals and military chaplains’ offices wherever our troops serve.
I thought of an injured soldier, a young man, seeing that little magazine for the first time, what it could mean to him. I got out my checkbook and wrote a check for $20. In the envelope I enclosed a note.
“I was in the service in 1967, stationed in Vietnam, when I received my first Guideposts,” I wrote. “Now it is time to pass these helpful stories on.” I couldn’t think of a better way to thank my old Army buddy.
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