Happy 90th Birthday to an Unsung WWII Hero

Our neighbor in flight gear–1943

Everyone needs a neighbor like Lenvil: a silent hero, a steadfast friend, and a man with a great heart.  

 The eldest son of an Oklahoman farmer, Lenvil quit school after the sixth grade when his father  needed him to work the fields. When WWII broke out, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces, receiving his radio and gunnery training before being awarded his wings.

 Assigned to the Eighth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress “Skinny”, part of the 94th Bomb Group,  my neighbor flew thirty-three missions—three more than the requisite thirty—on Nazi military and industrial targets in support of American ground forces.

 What made the extra flights unusual was that the missions were not ordered, but volunteered.  One of the team members had become ill and was forced to remain behind while his flight crew finished their tour of duty.  When Lenvil and his buddies learned the sick crew member would have to fly with a new group to complete his tour, the flight crew offered to fly three additional missions for him. Each of the members of the group received a special commendation for their willingness to put their lives in danger three more times.

President Roosevelt cited this group for the historic bombing of the Muhlembau aircraft assembly plant at Brunswick, Germany as well as participating in the Third Air Division England to Africa shuttle bombing of Messerschmitt aircraft assembly plants at Regensburg. My neighbor was awarded the Air Medal and two Oak Leaf Clusters. A humble man, Lenvil kept his military honors to himself, stashed away in a vintage shoe box. Only a framed document acknowledging his service hung on the wall, a gift from his proud mother.

When he returned home Lenvil married the girl he’d left behind  in Paris, Texas. Jobs there were scarce so the couple moved to Oregon where the timber industry boomed. Married sixty-three years before his wife passed away in 2009, Lenvil has  lived across the street for the better part of fifty years.  My husband knew  him long before he met me, before we purchased our home.   

A retired foreman in a plywood mill, my neighbor  poured himself into growing a garden every summer, one big enough to feed the entire block. My family benefitted from his labor of love—buckets of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and corn arriving on an almost daily basis at the height of the season. This year he decided not to grow vegetables.

His ninetieth birthday is Sunday.

So we say thanks and Happy Birthday to a man who has lived the life of an unsung hero, serving his fellow man and his country—making life better for those around him.  It’s our turn to salute you—Lenvil—and call you good neighbor and great friend.

Leviticus 19:18b “. . .You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

Celebrating Dads

Our dad’s favorite pie

This weekend, stores will do landmark sales in ties and aftershave, marking yet another Father’s Day. Children will color pictures to adorn the home refrigerator and wives will find cards to give their spouses, thanking the men in their lives for the roles they play in the family hierarchy.

 My husband will celebrate with a lemon meringue pie—his favorite—and gifts from his kids.

Fathers are important in God’s scheme of things. Billy Graham is quoted as saying “a good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” As the roles of men and women in our culture blur, becoming less and less defined, many men find it difficult to figure where they fit in God’s plan. But the Bible teaches their importance cannot be overlooked.

It has been said that the way a person views God is often based on the image they have of their earthly father. A person who sees God as a tyrant, ruling the world with an iron fist, may have grown up under the thumb of an unforgiving dad. The individual who sees God as all loving, all knowing, and all forgiving learned that lesson sitting at his or her earthly father’s knee. Ephesians 6:4 tells us, “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

Studies show that young girls will one day marry a man much like their father. The father’s imprint on the child could well determine the type of man with whom she will share her life and the quality of life she will live.

As part of the ten commandments in Exodus 20:12 (NKJV) God’s word teaches us to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

This Sunday, thank your father if he still lives. Ladies, praise the father of your children, and dads, be the father your children need, passing on the legacy God intended for you.

Happy Father’s Day.

Book Pick–Author Ginny Yttrup

In the book Invisible by Ginny Yttrup, restaurant owner Ellyn DeMoss is a talented, overweight chef  running her own café and is well respected in her community. She has a gift for seeing the best in others, but can only condemn herself. When a handsome widower claims he is attracted to Ellyn, she doesn’t believe him, thinking there must be something wrong with the guy.

She makes friends with Sabina Jackson, a tall and slender psychologist—Ellyn’s physical opposite—who has come to spend a year healing, having left behind a husband, two daughters, and a thriving counseling practice. Ellyn thinks Sabina is doing more hiding than healing and attempts to draw her out.

 A third player in the tale, Twila Boaz, is also struggling with personal issues, endeavoring to see herself as God sees her, rather than the invisible woman she has tried to become through an eating disorder.

Together the lives of these three women intertwine and each one discovers they are individual creations, made in the image of God. A compelling story about self-esteem and God’s power in the lives of those who dare to trust him, Invisible is a book well worth reading. Add the element of romance, and the delightful setting at the ocean’s edge in Northern California, the reader will enjoy a remarkable story.

Available from Amazon and Christian Book Distributors.