• The Commander and a Private

  • After finishing basic training, it was time to be trained in the communication training center. One day, I went walking after finishing my training. The commander was walking toward me. How dreadful to see the commander as a private! I saluted with a deep voice, “Unity!” Then he said, “Come over here.” 

    “Yes, sir! Ock Soo Park and two others are here by your order.” The commander asked his aide who was standing behind, “Aide, is it possible to commend these trainees?” “Yes, sir, it is possible.” “Commend these three.” It was the obvious thing to salute to a higher officer in the army, but we were going to get commended for our good salutation.

    A few days later, we went to the headquarters to get commended. So I changed my clothes and borrowed a shiny buckle from my friend. Then, a company commander gave a rehearsal for the commendation. “When you shake hands with the commander, don’t grab it, just thrust out your hand. When he shakes it, then shake it.” We practiced for 30 minutes just for one minute commendation. Finally, all the soldiers gathered and the ceremony for awarding started.

    “Name, Ock Soo Park, Number . . . this man has an excellent spirit of soldiering . . . so I commend him.”

    After we were commended, we laughed because we were commended for an insignificant reason.

    Later, I was known among all the soldiers in the camp. As I went outside the camp to do my work, the driver said, “Ock Soo Park is here, so we are not going to have an accident because he is a believer in Jesus.” And, sometimes, when I was cutting in the line, someone immediately said, “Does a believer cut in a line?” God was with me, and all the soldiers knew that I believed in Jesus. God continuously blessed and displayed me.

    One day I was reading the Bible while I was on sentry duty. While I was being absorbed into the Bible, I took off my steel helmet and put it by my side because it was heavy. A little while later, I released my ammunition belt, I laid my gun down and sat on my steel helmet. At that time, I had no time to pray or read the Bible. It was the best time for me to read the Bible when I was on sentry duty on the top of the mountain, alone. So I took the Bible out of my pocket and read. Two hours were neither too long nor too short to read and be absorbed into it.

    While my reading was deeply into Bible, I heard strange noise so I looked around, and I found that the commander, who wore sport clothes, was walking toward me. I was so frightened that I thought, “I might go to prison for this.” Standing up immediately, I put on my steel helmet, fastened my ammunition belt, shouldered my gun, and saluted saying, “Nothing is wrong while I’m on duty.” He did not say anything but smiled.

    Although I was neither an officer nor a formal soldier, he recognized me. I was only a trainee.

    “Well, while you do your religion, do your religion. While you do your duty, do your duty.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    The commander and I talked a lot.

    “Did you have a vacation?”

    “No, I didn’t.”

    “You didn’t or you couldn’t?”

    He warmed up to me because I was tensed.

    “You do religion work, but, not when you are on duty, only during religion time.”

    Later, he called me and denoted, “Let’s build a church.” Then he ordered the administrative officer, “Don’t give him any other works, he only does religious work.” During this period it was the middle of the Vietnam War. I was selected a couple of times as a signal corpsman. However, everytime I went to the commander’s office to report that I was drifted to Vietnam war before leaving, he always said, “Take him off the list.” After I was omitted a few times, they did not put my name on the list. Then, while I served in the communication training camp, I preached the gospel to the trainees who were trained in that place.

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