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LDS veterans share inspiring stories of courage, valor

Published: Thursday, May 23 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

In this latest book of the "Saints at War" series, LDS veterans of various wars share experiences of divine protection, fulfillment of priesthood blessings and other miracles that occurred while in their country's service. (Cedar Fort) In this latest book of the "Saints at War" series, LDS veterans of various wars share experiences of divine protection, fulfillment of priesthood blessings and other miracles that occurred while in their country's service. (Cedar Fort)

The Saints at War project started in 2000 with the purpose of gathering stories of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving their country during wartime. Since then, hundreds of accounts have been submitted and published in a series of books or recounted in video documentaries.

These stories not only honor the veterans' memory and legacy of service, they have also been a source of inspiration and strength to many Latter-day Saints, said Robert Freeman, author and director of the Saints at War project.

With that same goal in mind, Freeman has written "Saints at War: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Valor" (Cedar Fort, $18.99), which hits bookstores this month. Despite the terrible nature of war, these stories demonstrate the need for greater reliance on the Lord during troubling times, Freeman said.

"I believe that learning from those who have experienced and survived war, with all of its horrors, gives us the courage necessary to confront evil in our day," Freeman, a religion professor at Brigham Young University, wrote in the book's preface. "This is a legacy we all can benefit from regardless of our longevity in the church or the record of patriotic service in our own families."

Silhouetted in the golden glory of a Pacific sunrise, crosses mark the graves of Americans who gave their lives to win a small atoll on the road to the Philippines. A Coast Guardsman stands in silent reverence beside the resting place of a comrade in 1944. (Courtesy of National Archives) Silhouetted in the golden glory of a Pacific sunrise, crosses mark the graves of Americans who gave their lives to win a small atoll on the road to the Philippines. A Coast Guardsman stands in silent reverence beside the resting place of a comrade in 1944. (Courtesy of National Archives)

Freeman continues to oversee the Saints at War project, and submissions are still welcome at Saintsatwar.com. Freeman is especially interested in stories from World War I.

"I can’t get over the resiliency of the Latter-day Saint veterans. How it is that they went through the rigors and battles … how they come back and resumed what we might term “normal lives” and carried on," Freeman said. "They become our Scoutmasters, our barbers and bishopric members. They have families. They have strong faith. I think that's a remarkable thing."

Between today and Memorial Day, Mormon Times is sharing five accounts from the stories found in "Saints at War: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Valor":

Gale Hammond, World War II, Army

Opportunities to meet in settings such as this LDS group were a rare blessing for LDS soldier serving during World War II. (Courtesy of Don Taylor family, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, BYU) Opportunities to meet in settings such as this LDS group were a rare blessing for LDS soldier serving during World War II. (Courtesy of Don Taylor family, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, BYU)

Dr. Eldredge Wayne Stratford, World War II, Pacific, Navy

H. Burke Peterson, World War II, Navy

Jill Stevens Shepherd, Afghanistan, Army

Keith R. Willison, World War II, Navy

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