Editor's note: This is an excerpt from "Saints at War: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Valor, published by Cedar Fort this month, which includes stories shared about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who served in the armed forces. Click here for more about the book.
The average life of an infantry man is 17 days.
My brother West lasted a little longer than that before he was wounded. He was the radio man when his unit advanced up a street in Heidelberg. A radio message came for his captain, who was in the next building. To reach the captain, West had to run out into the street around the rubble. As he did so, a sniper shot him in the leg. There he lay in the middle of the street without any protection as the Germans kept firing down the street.
Back home in Salt Lake City, my dad had closed the store and was on a bus headed for home. Dad writes, "Suddenly I was deeply impressed that West was in trouble, serious trouble. First I felt like asking the Lord to protect him from the implements of war and not let him get struck by enemy fire or killed. But I just could not frame the words; they just would not come. When the bus stopped, I quickly entered my house. It was near midnight. I fell on my knees and poured out my soul in all earnestness to the Lord. Of my own self I tried again to ask the Lord to protect West from harm, but the words would not come. Then I changed my request from asking for complete protection from the enemy fire to that of sending help to him as he is wounded and needs help now so that more serious trouble will not come upon him. When I changed my pleading from complete protection to that of helping a wounded man, I had no trouble finding the words to express my desires to the Lord for his help. After pleading two and a half hours or more, there came a sweet spirit of peace to my soul that the necessary help would reach West in time to save his life."
During those two and half hours, "Bullets were flying all around. A smoke grenade was thrown into the street. The Germans started firing into that smoke. Two men risked their lives by running out into the street and dragged West to safety in the building. Then they found that building was on fire. Just in time, medics ran into the building with a stretcher. As they carried him out, bullets again zinged off the paved street as they ran. A jeep just happened to be nearby. Soon West was being driven off as more bullets whizzed by."
Dad's prayer had been answered. The help West needed was there just at the right time.
Gale Hammond served in the Army during World War II.