God's air cover best protection for soldiers


Calvin Lacy

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A graveside service was conducted at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 22, 2009, for Army Maj. Elisha Ray Nance, and I was probably the last one to know it.

Why is this important, you may ask?

After all, I was only 10 years, one month and six days old when then-29-year-old Army Lt. Nance, commanding officer of Company A of the 116th Infantry of Bedford, Virginia, was the first soldier to step off a landing craft at Omaha Beach on D-Day. Nance stepped into frigid water over his head and sank to the bottom. It probably saved his life. As he struggled to the surface, a hail of fire from the bluffs on the beach instantly wiped out everyone else on the landing craft.

When Lt. Nance finally came ashore, he found himself alone. There was nobody in front of him and nobody behind him. Looking back he saw only dead men in the landing craft and floating in the water.

That is the beginning of the Bedford Boys’ legend.

Twice injured in one foot and once in one hand rendered Lt. Nance unfit for further military service. But not before 19 fine young Bedford boys gave their lives in the initial D-Day assault and two more did so later in the day. The little Virginia town of 3,200 souls suffered per capita what remains the greatest loss of military service personnel by any U.S. community.

President George W. Bush dedicated the D-Day memorial in Bedford, Virginia, on June, 6, 2001, and some said it was way too little and way too late to be of any significant value. What the Bedford boys really needed was air cover, which would have made a major difference. Not the type of air cover normally associated with military operations but air cover nevertheless. 

In the little Gulf coast town of Seadrift, Texas, some 1,300 miles southwest of Bedford, World War II took on a different dimension. Seadrift sent 52 men to war and all 52 returned alive and unscathed. Everyone knows it was the power of prayer (the aforementioned air cover) that turned the war in their favor.

In 1942, pastor Robert Caddel of the First Assembly of God encouraged his congregation to spend more time in prayer for their men in uniform. The women prayed around the clock and God heard it! All the men from Seadrift returned as good as when they left.

The story goes that it worked so well that they decided to pray each time a Seadrift, Texas man went to war from then on. He'd be covered in prayer — by the air cover I mentioned earlier. I can't prove it but that's the legend.

Calvin Lacy