When Bill was 17, he volunteered to join the U.S. Coast Guard. A short time later he was headed for the Pacific Islands to join the armada as part of the invasion of Okinawa. By God's grace he came home safely, leaving behind fallen comrades, returning to live in the free world he fought to protect. Bill raised three girls - now my sisters. He worked hard with his hands and built things, never forgetting the sacrifices of the other men who didn't return home.
Bill is a gentle man with big strong hands, and arms that encircle with re-assuring hugs. At church he serves as a greeter, where he has been renamed, Hugger Bill. His embraces are testimonies of the great love God has for us -- a love Bill also shares verbally, and freely with anyone who will listen.
In May, At 88 years old, Bill joined other WW2 Veterans on an Honor Flight to visit the memorial in Washington, D.C. He had this to say about one part of his visit:
" So much death surrounded us at Arlington Cemetery I could feel it. But I found life -- a high point for me in all of this -- at the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. To see a soldier parading and showing respect for the unknown fallen ones overwhelmed me. To me, this was life in the middle of all that death. I respected those soldiers who were a different breed of men, such authority, such discipline, so beautiful.""They fought together as brothers-in-arms. They died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation." ~Admiral Chester A. Nimitz
After returning home from the Honor Flight, Bill was invited to a celebration. The night before, he could not sleep. You see, he had received new orders from his Commander. Bill knew the next day would be a matter of life and death for some of his comrades. There were over 300 people in attendance. Bill maneuvered to the podium and requested an opportunity to speak. He was allotted THIRTY SECONDS. Bill boldly stepped up to the microphone:
" I need to tell you something very important. You are all old guys and won't live here much longer. But you will live either in heaven or in hell and I for one really don't want to see any of you go to hell - that's a terrible place to go. I read the book."He continued to map out the path to heaven through Jesus. My mother remarked that all were so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. These men, who defended our country when they were young, were there with canes and with walkers and in wheel chairs. They were from all parts of the service. Many of them were over 90 years old. One man spent three years in a tank in Patton's army.
"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Roman's 10:9
|Hats off to you, Bill Cowper|