This time, it saved his life. While everyone was relaxing, Meldrum received what he described as a spiritual impression to jump into his foxhole. Almost simultaneously, there was an explosion and a ball of fire where he had been standing. Afterward, he climbed out of the hole and held Brownie in his arms as Brownie died.
"He always talked about Brownie, not so much the combat," Alan recalls. "My dad said Brownie was a man of class and distinction. He said: 'One day, Brownie told me I was the best friend he ever had. I felt honored, because Brownie was the best friend that I had ever had. To this day, more than 50 years later, he is still the best friend I ever had.' "
True to the vow he made with Brownie, after the war and for the rest of his life, Sterling paid 10 percent of his income each month to charities ?— after he paid tithing to his church and taxes to his government. He never discussed this with anyone; it was only later, after he was gone, that Meldrum's widow, Shirley, told her children.
"He felt like his life was preserved for a reason," Alan says. "He wanted to serve his country the best he could when he returned and help those in need. He never forgot the poverty he saw."
After the war, he earned a master's degree in English and taught the subject at West High for 35 years while also serving in the Air Force Reserve. He once told his children: "When I enlisted in the Army, I knew that there would be hardships and sacrifices, and that I may have to give up my life. I thought about this hard, and was willing to die for my country and my God. More specifically, I wanted to help the many people in Europe who were being subjected to tyrannical leaders, poverty, abuse and loss of personal freedom, and I was willing to sacrifice everything to bring joy, love, peace and happiness into their hearts."
During the war, he vowed never to leave America again if he made it home alive. He said it was his way "of honoring my country, and my Heavenly Father, who allowed me to be born here."
He never did leave American soil again, even when his wife won an expense-paid trip to Scotland a few years ago.
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