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Offline Flyin6

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For my friend
« on: October 04, 2017, 05:30:58 PM »
An expended brass case, Ode to a friend
By
Donald Harward

Looking at this empty case it tells me a lot. It is old school, from an era now well past. It is a thirty-ought-six, which was used by the US Army from the First World War on through the Korean conflict. This one was fired from a bolt action, an M-1903 whose designation points to the year the weapon was adopted into the Army as the standard service rifle. This cartridge, one of twenty one such casings littering the ground after being fired by seven uniformed members of our Armed Forces.

I scarcely know which rifle or man or on which volley my cartridge issued forth from the firing chamber after the bolt was crisply worked up, then aft, then forward, then locked down again, All I know is that it was fired by one of those guys. It seems that after the volley, sometime when no one paid attention or perhaps was more concerned with listening to the words of our pastor, that someone picked up those twenty one cases and placed them in a bag.

That bag was handed to a lady who looked tired. She had been through quite a bit in the past few days, having to do things she had probably almost never thought she?d have to do. She certainly didn?t think any of this would be happening the Sunday before when I sat near her in the bible study that her husband taught. I think she would just rather wake up from all this and discover it was nothing but a very bad dream, but alas, that is not going to happen. Neither will next week?s Sunday school class be taught by her husband.

Tom earned the right to that twenty one gun salute for his service as an Army enlisted guy where he crewed and operated the door gun on a UH-1 Huey in Vietnam. We talked often about those times, he, always downplaying his role or the danger of flying there much the same as many heroes do from that time or from wars earlier on.

The first time I ever saw him, I was a new guy at the church where we both attended. I was rounding the corner heading to the men?s room and he was opposite me going into the main service. Passing him, I keyed in on the bronze star I recognized on his lapel. ?Vietnam?? I questioned pointing to the decoration. ?Yea, door gunner, you?? ?Naw, too young, I missed that one, but caught a couple other others along the way.? He introduced himself to me, ?Tom Craner? and invited me to come to his weekly bible study. How many times since that day I have kicked myself in the rear for not taking him up on that offer. It was a couple years later when I finally walked into his class and was almost immediately hooked by the energy and spirit of that place.

Tom is by far, one of the most inspired bible teachers I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. But his class, to me was not just a class in the traditional sense. You know, one where you listen to a teacher describe or explain a point. Nope, this man made you ?feel it.? He would read a verse or on a rare day, maybe two then go off into describing the terrain around that situation, because, you see, he had actually been there. He would describe how the sun at that time of day was bisected by a distant hilltop, and how the mist from the sea would rise up and obscure the fishing boats. Listening to him I could picture Armies of David battling the Philistines. He would describe the smells and the tastes and the savagery of the sword point. I mean to hear him dissect the word was as close to being there as one could get.

Tom?s class was my church. I serve during all the rest of the goings-on during Sundays so I can?t hear a full sermon. I sometimes miss praise or get just a bit of this testimony or that. Tom served as a teacher, I serve elsewhere. I looked forward with a childlike zeal to showing up in Tom?s class for a dive into the word. I sure love the Lord, but Tom made me look like a cub scout on his first outing by comparison. I, well, all of us there, ?Felt? the word as delivered by that man. It energized me, it just unfolded like a treasure map to the ultimate find to me. And all the while that came with a dash of humor, political commentary and even some light hearted banter between him and Diane, his wife since he was a bit more than a kid.

No replacing that, those people are just too far in between. Thinking about it Tom was a gift that God shared with all of us for a time. But just as the bible points out, it was a season, and now that season has past. I was thinking about Tom just last Saturday, a couple days after that brass cartridge was ejected from that hot firing chamber. I was thinking about my friend. And I was thinking of the bible story about the silver smith refining silver. The smith continues the process until the silver is so pure that the refiner can see his own reflection in the molten pool. Then it is finished, done, as pure as it can get and useful for other things and of great value.

Tom?s life was like that. The potter?s hand, a master silver smith himself had been removing impurities from Tom for a long time. He had reached a point where Tom was ?Done,? where very little else could be changed to make him perfect in the father?s eyes. Tom had reached a point of excellence in his life and I believe in my heart that God loved him so much that he took him to be with Jesus. Tom walked the walk and talked the talk in a public manner and had affected and changed so many lives that he had indeed done the work that Jesus had set before we Christians. The great commission, to spread the word throughout the world.

Tom set the word on fire and scattered it out on a dried forest. I might well have been a mound of dying grass in that field that his fiery word set ablaze and ignited everything to my right and left. He was that kind of a man, a teacher, a lover of the Lord and the word, a husband, father, and excellent at just about every other noun you can think of that described his life.

He was a gem, he was a pearl, he was a one of a kind genuine guy, he was a deacon, he was a business man, he had been a warrior at one time, and he was my friend. Who knows why men become friends, or why they develop a bond. All I know is that between certain people that bond develops. I know that between warriors it develops much stronger.

So it boils down to this brass case sitting on my walnut desk that Diane, eyes full of tears, gave me. She said she knew Tom and I were friends and he would want me to have it. What is it, less than an ounce? And yet it represents so very much. How can something so small even begin to account for something as massive as the effect on all of us from this man?s life? I guess in the end I am just a simple soldier and I?ll not endure forever on the question. I guess I?ll just move out, although with a bit of hesitation in my step now, but I?ll move out and try to make something worthy of the days I have remaining. I?ll just count myself fortunate that God allowed us to be friends. I?ll be thankful for all the underlined verses in my old bible that are a direct result of listening to that man, and I?ll thank God that he shared Tom with all of us

Miss ya bro!
Site owner    IS 6:8  Psalm 91 
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Offline EL TATE

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Re: For my friend
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2017, 05:43:34 PM »
Thank you for sharing that Don. I had a teacher like that. And I know what you mean to have the word come alive. It's never been the same.
Husband, Father, Gear guy, Patriot.

Offline cudakidd53

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Re: For my friend
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2017, 05:52:14 PM »
Nicely put Don.  Maybe you could consider picking up that banner Tom carried and teach that class yourself......you're doing a commendable job here. 
2012 Silverado LTZ - Duramax
Christian since 1975 - Field Trial Brittanys - NRA Lifetime Member

"When you're dead, you don't know you're dead. Hence, dealing with this fact is not difficult. It is only hard for those still living around you.....It's the same when you're stupid."

Offline Wilbur

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Re: For my friend
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2017, 05:58:56 PM »
Don I am very sorry for your loss. I have never had a bible teacher like that. I need to find one. You have painted a eloquent and beautiful picture of your friend. I am convinced he will live on in the things you do differently because of his influence in your life. And that just as he changed people, you will continue to as well. There is something about a 21 gun salute that is jarring, final and so very poignant, all at the same time.  Thank you very much for sharing that.

Offline Flyin6

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Re: For my friend
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2017, 06:06:31 PM »
Nicely put Don.  Maybe you could consider picking up that banner Tom carried and teach that class yourself......you're doing a commendable job here. 
Thank you, that is kind

However, I don't think I am called for such a task as that

This place amongst some others is where I do his will
Site owner    IS 6:8  Psalm 91 
NSDQ      Author: Distant Thunder

Offline Sammconn

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Re: For my friend
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2017, 08:48:11 PM »
Very powerful story of one of Gods men.
Sorry for the loss Don, may Tom live through you for the rest of your time.
I just don't want to wind up missing a digit or limb.  I can sometimes get in a hurry to get results.
Sam

Offline JR

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Re: For my friend
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2017, 01:32:58 AM »
Very nice Don. Funny how you look up to people, then they are gone. That little piece of brass will help.
Retired LEO  Lifetime NRA+  Outcast in Calif

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants"

Thomas Jefferson

Offline cruizng

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Re: For my friend
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2017, 10:21:48 AM »
Very sorry for yours and your churches loss. A bright light snuffed out way too soon. If only we all could have that same impact on just one other person.
Mike
2008 D-Max pretty stock except small lift, tires, and intake.

Offline Flyin6

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Re: For my friend
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2017, 10:27:26 AM »
I don't really think he was taken too soon. He was 70 and nearing perfection in his life. I think he was ready for a break from this world and God rescued him. It's better there, you know.
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Re: For my friend
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2017, 12:37:16 PM »
Sorry for you loss Don, very well spoken indeed
Learn the rules like a pro so that you can break them like an artist -Pablo Picasso-