Meet Grandpa Clarey. Clarey and his wife, Hiroe, have been surrogate grandparents (on Nils’ side of the family) here in Japan for our children, Lisa, Mark and Caroline. Lisa is here with us for the year-end holidays (holy days), so we decided to take a drive up to see Grandpa Clarey. We were welcomed and walked into their living room where I introduced my three grandsons to Clarey. “I’d like you to meet my grandsons Eli, Judah and Aidan.”
To which he replied, ” . . . and I’m Moses!” Grandpa Clarey has another identity, though, about which most people know nothing.
Meet USAF (Ret) Lt. Col Clarence Neale English and our grandson, Eli, as they share heroic stories and medals from Lt. Col. English’s collection of medals for his service in World War II, the Korean Conflict and the Viet Nam War.
Clarey, the name by which we call the Lt. Col., served the US Armed Forces in World War II by flying a B-17 bomber in the European Theater of Operation (ETO), and in the Korean Conflict flying an F-94 fighter jet. During the Viet Nam War, he was in charge of fire control systems (firing rockets and missiles). He later came to Japan and was the Commander of the US Base at Yamada Dai Yakko in Kokura, Kita Kyushu, where there were storage areas for munitions and refurbished bombs.
Meet the Crew ⎯ This photo was taken in 1944. Front row far right the Lt. Col., who was the pilot-leader of this B-17 heavy bomber crew during World War II in the ETO. Clarey will be 85 in March next year.
Can you imagine the stories Clarey has in his memory? As he opened the box of medals to show us yesterday, his memories were jogged and he shared with us true stories about his service to the United States in three major wars. How many of us can say we’ve personally met a World War II B-17 bomber pilot? Our grandson smiled real big as the Lt. Col. held up his Bronze Star to Eli’s chest. Let’s take a quick look at two of Clarey’s medals.
The front side of Clarey’s World War II Victory Medal (left) may not seem too prestigious, but once it’s turned over, it almost takes a person’s breath away. The inscription reads:
1941-1945 United States of America.
Freedom from fear and want.
Freedom of speech and religion.
Shown here (right) is the front side of Lt. Col. English’s Bronze Medal. Reading the reverse side causes one to stop and truly be thankful for all those Veterans who fought in different wars defending the rights of freedom of speech and religion for countless US citizens:
Heroic or Meritorious Achievements.
A spiritual tidbit can always be found in various people’s life stories. Clarey was a warrior, so to speak, in that he fought in three big wars. Victories, in which he played a part, were over enemies that wanted to take away freedom and liberty.
Sin is that way, you know! It steals the liberty and freedom in which God wants us to live. The war against sin has already been won though:
“But thanks be to God,
who giveth us the VICTORY
through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Our HERO, Jesus! Hip, hip, hooray!
But, but, but . . . we must “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of sin.” We’ve got to keep on our toes at all times, especially now in the gyrating days in which we are living.
I respect, honor and salute Lt. Col. English this last day of 2008 for his service to the United States of America, but I praise, thank and give glory to God for the victory over the worst enemy of all human beings since time began ⎯ sin.
Hey, why not let’s go to the House of the Lord this New Year, lift up our hands, give some honor and praise and a big salute to the greatest HERO of all time ⎯ the Captain of our salvation?
(1 Corinthians 15:57; Galatians 5:1)