Gazing at the Destruction of Pearl Harbor

It was more than half a century ago that I stood on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown and gazed in awe at the recent destruction of Pearl Harbor. My sailor friends and I were very young then, but a few months later, the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway would make men of us quickly.

Since those decisive days, many fine accounts have been written about those key battles but generally in a secular context for the historian’s interest. They have enhanced our knowledge of the war in the Pacific and particularly of those great battles, and we are indebted to them, but there was another side to the story that never has been told.

During that early period of World War Il, I was in the U.S. Navy serving as an enlisted musician on the aircraft carrier Yorktown, which was a major player in the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. From my experience in the ship, I observed the supernatural intervention of God that played a vital role among both officers and enlisted men. I wish to bring some of that story into focus for the families and friends of the Christian religious community whose loved ones served so heroically in those critical events of the war.

I am writing for all the military personnel who served in those actions and particularly for the survivors of the Yorktown and their families and friends. The Yorktown (CV-5) Club, which I currently serve as chaplain, meets annually to relive the events and to keep alive the spirit for which we served. I am grateful to the club members for the camaraderie and spirit of fellowship that have endured through the years and are ignited each year anew as we meet together.

I am writing for those many Christians who may not pursue secular history as such but would appreciate reading history that takes into account God’s intervening force in the lives and events of the people involved. Many prayed for their men and women during those dark hours of World War Il and believed that God heard and answered their prayers, and those of us who benefited from their intercessory prayer continue as witnesses to God’s grace.

Divine providence is as relevant today as it was in Bible times. Events do not “just happen.” The Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway are cases in point, for we did not win those battles by our wits alone. The odds were stacked against us at Midway, but in answer to the prayers going on back home in our great nation, the enemy forces made crucial mistakes at Midway. Those errors cost them the loss of ships and men, which resulted in their defeat and the turning of the tide in the war.

I am writing to give testimony to God’s presence in the most difficult of times and to witness to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. My hope is that this testimony might be an encouragement to others who find themselves in uneven circumstances. Also, I wish to encourage others to be faithful to God and to one another in any and all eventualities, good or bad.

I am writing for my children who have not known what their father went through during the war. One of my daughters wept as she read the account of the sinking of the Yorktown and remarked that her brothers and sisters did not know these things.

Finally, I write to remind myself of God’s divine favor and providence lest I forget the time when I felt so alone and helpless. Lest I forget. Lest I forget.

This is an excerpt from the preface of my dad’s book, Dead in the Water. It is available on Amazon and on this website. Captain Stanford E. Linzey was a sailor on the USS Yorktown during WWII. After the war, he served as a pastor for a decade, and then returned to the Navy as a chaplain. The image below was provided by Pixabay.com.

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