58,220 Americans were killed in the Vietnam War.  As I reflect on the two years I  served in Vietnam as an Infantry officer, I wonder how I escaped unharmed. Most of the battles fought by my units were against North Vietnamese Army (NVA) units who are ferocious fighters.

I sometimes ask myself, why was I spared and the next man was not?  I know I’m not alone when I ask myself this question.  Many soldiers, perhaps most, reflect after a battle or at the end of a war as they struggle to understand this quandary.  Some find answers and some do not.  There may be as many answers to the question as there are survivors.

Bottom Left, Mike, Bethany. Evan, Kimberly, Melissa, Cynthia, Vanessa (baby), Cynthia Nicole, Donna, Susan, Phyllis, Jack, Rick, and Randy

I can recall several instances where I escaped injury when in close combat with NVA fighters in circumstances that cannot be explained or understood in a rational sense. For example,  an enemy soldier threw a hand grenade that I saw in the air before it hit the ground about 8-10 feet in front of me. I was flat on my stomach when I first saw the grenade and watched helplessly as it bounced toward me. I covered my head with both arms and hugged the ground. Miraculously, the grenade exploded after it bounced side- ways into a ditch.

           Jack Burr Platoon Leader on L,         Artillery Forward Advisor on R

There is no rational explanation for how I escaped obvious jeopardy. 

Like many fellow soldiers I was a changed person after Vietnam.  Life became more precious. Small things such as watching a sunset or listening to the chirping of birds in the morning took on new meaning.

My family became more important, particularly in matters of faith and practice of biblical teaching.   After a while life fell into a routine as Phyllis and I became more involved in church activities.

I had not thought about the question posed at the beginning of this story for some time, but the question and the answer came to me suddenly.   After Sunday School Class,  a young man asked a question about being saved.

As I was explaining God’s plan of salvation in the person of Jesus, the Holy Spirit interceded and the young man was saved.  At that moment I knew the answer to the question, “why me”. In God’s eyes, One soul is priceless.

As I reflected on this matter I realized there were many reasons why I returned from Vietnam uninjured.  Let me numerate a few:  help Phyllis raise three great kids, love and provide for my family, in short be a good husband and father.  Be a Godly person by helping others and being a good neighbor.

I could list others but the point is this:  Living is more fulfilling and rewarding because I recognized my purpose in life.