This past Friday night I had the opportunity to attend the 51st Annual Enshrinement Ceremony of the National Aviation Hall of Fame where four men were honored as legends of flight. I was impressed both on the grand scale and for one individual. On the grand scale, it was humbling to be in a room with six hundred people who radiated such intense patriotism. Many of the attendees were military – either retired or in active duty – and you could tell they loved their country. The National Anthem was played and a blessing was said before our meal. Our country needs more of that: Patriotism and faith. And folks – they go hand in hand, don’t they. Just read the first words of the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. From the beginning, America’s founders accepted the reality that basic rights were inseparable from human beings and they recognized that those inalienable rights were not given by government nor acquired by force, but that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the gifts of the Creator.
The one enshrined individual who made the greatest impression on me was Patrick Henry Brady. This man was once dropped from the ROTC program, expelled from Army Intelligence School, and almost failed Army helicopter school. In January 1964 Brady volunteered for Vietnam and was assigned to the 57th Medical Detachment – Helicopter Ambulance. He ended up flying in two tours of Vietnam where he flew over 2,500 combat missions and rescued over 5,000 wounded. Brady flew during the night, and in weather and terrain that was as deadly as the communists. He often extracted patients from areas where other aircraft had failed. But what really moved my heart was when Brady was given the chance to speak on Friday night, and this is what he said (paraphrased as best I can recall): “So many of our rescues were into places that were thick with smoke, full of brush and trees, and seemingly impossible to get to … and I would pray to God for Him to find a path and to guide me in there so we could bring the wounded out.” Wow. In the midst of the horrors of the Vietnam War and with mines exploding and bullets flying, this man totally put all his trust in his Lord and Savior. Totally. That is faith pure and true.
Patrick Henry Brady set a huge example for me. Besides being a hero for all the wounded he rescued from the bloody jungles of Vietnam, he is my hero for his example of faith and trust. How often do we pray for God’s hand to lead and guide us through a difficult day or situation? But do we totally give up all of our control to let God take over and guide us? Brady had to relinquish all control to let God fly his helicopter safely in and out of battle zones. Do we surrender all to Him? Or do we hold on to the part we want and wrestle for control? You can’t have two sets of hands on the steering wheel – or on the stick of the airplane! Few of the conflicts most of us face could ever come close to the life or death battles Brady faced. Why are we so stubborn to trust God to pave the safest path for our lives? He sees what we cannot. He knows what we do not. He can do what we cannot.
Thank you, Patrick Henry Brady, for your service to your country and for the example you set with your faith.
And (willingly) may we learn to let God be our guide.
Psalm 23:3 He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Psalm 31:3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Psalm 48:14 For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
Psalm 67:4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.
Psalm 78:14 He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night.
Psalm 78:53 He guided them safely, so they were unafraid; but the sea engulfed their enemies.
Isaiah 58:11 The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.