Most Americans can tell you that George S. Patton was a military leader. In fact he was a four star general credited with leading the U.S. to victory over the German army. Patton was loud and basked in the glory of achieving. His achievements included the following medals: Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Legion of Merit, Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal.
But the greatest action that he took did not involve getting a medal. The greatest act he took was realizing that he needed help. He was faced with a quandary. He needed to move 100,000 men and over 1000 vehicles and artillery units 125 miles in the snow and mud. This was, to say the least, virtually impossible.
Patton was charged with reinforcing the 101st Airborne Unit, in the key town of Bastogne, which was under siege from 200,000 Germans. He also knew that if he could not get to Bastogne in a few days the German army would break the line and possibly turn the war in the enemy’s favor. This is known, by most, as “The Battle of the Bulge.”
Patton knew he needed good weather for his troops to advance, which would permit close ground support by U.S. Army Air Forces tactical aircraft. Patton ordered Army chaplain, Colonel James Hugh O’Neill, to compose a prayer to ask God for a stoppage in the weather. This is what Colonel O’Neill wrote:
“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.”
When the weather cleared soon after, Patton awarded O’Neill a Bronze Star Medal on the spot. The rest is history. Patton arrived with reinforcements and the German Army was defeated at Bastogne. In doing so the Allies held the line. The Germans retreated. Within 45 days Patton entered Germany and a surrender shortly followed.
Before the intense fighting began, the Commander in Bastogne Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, knowing reinforcements were on the way, relied on his faith and visited the frontline troops. After a brief discussion with the officers, all Gen. McAuliffe could say was, “Hold the line; close the gaps.”
We are in a spiritual battle much like Bastogne. Conditions are tough. Our world is rapidly deteriorating both morally and spiritually. We are encircled and isolated. We are constantly under artillery fire from Satan. How can we win our spiritual battle?
We must follow the same faith that Gen. Patton, Col. O’Neill and Gen. McAuliffe had. We must give the order; “Hold the line, close the gaps.” Prayer always works. We just have to believe.