Prayer carried inside helmet

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts.' started by Dave55, Aug 31, 2018.

  1. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member Patron

    A member of my mother's church and a family friend passed away recently. The church included this article in the weekly bulletin



    A note from the Historical Committee...

    Longtime member of the Pearl River United Methodist Church Mel Matern went home to be with the Lord on August 16, 2018. We will deeply miss Mel as a blessed and loving part of our church family here.

    Following is a testament to Mel Matern’s service to country, to family, and to God in his own words - as he himself recited at our Sunday Memorial Day service, May 27, 1999:

    “It was shortly after ‘D’ Day (June 6, 1944) that I received from my mother the Pearl River Methodist Program celebrating Memorial Day that was held on May 28,1944. Upon reading the prayer on the face of the program, I was moved by its thought and placed it inside my steel helmet.

    The prayer read as follows:

    ‘O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom, Defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies, that we, surely trusting in thy defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.’

    As a combat infantryman I periodically would remove the church program from my helmet, look at it, read the prayer again,and let it remind me of home. As the time of battle went on through France, Belgium, and into Germany, prayers for continued life were often said. It was not until moving onto the streets outside Aachen, Germany, that I was wounded by an enemy mortar shell (Nov. 13, 1944). Because of my wounds I was evacuated first to Paris and then to England.

    As years passed by I often pondered about the timing of my being wounded. for it was just about one month later, and while I was still in a hospital in England, that the last and final onslaught began (Battle of the Bulge). By the middle of January, 1945, my wounds had healed enough so that I was able to return to my infantry unit in Butenbach, Germany. From that time on and until the end of hostilities in Europe (and by that time we were in Czechoslovakia), I was indeed fortunate in not receiving any other discomfort. I was blessed, unlike so many of my buddies,who were not able to return to heir hometown.

    I do not profess to be any kind of hero, I only performed my duty, however graced, and followed my Division motto - No Mission too Difficult, No Sacrifice too Great, Duty First”

    One of Mel’s favorite verses of the bible, Exodus 12:13,14; the Passover story, is a testament to his love of family, country, and to God:

    The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual
    ordinance.

    David M. Slagan,
    PRUMC Church Historian
     

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