Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Crossing Dangerous Waters Behind Enemy Lines

J.M.J. + O.B.T. + M.G.R.*

My reversion to the Catholic Church actually 
began 15 years before the life-changing 
events of April 16, 1998.

When I heard the 'little voice' tell me, "Go to the place where you were most spiritual" I was obliged to survey my life (all of then some 38 years) in order to pinpoint that exact moment and that exact location.  It took no longer than an hour of pondering my past domiciles: West Caldwell, NJ... maybe; West Point, NY...nope; West Germany...definitely not; California...no way; then the shorter stays, the forts:  The Home of the Infantry...hmmm

U.S. Army Ranger School
One training experience in three phases:

Ft. Benning, GA (City)
Camp Darby, Dahlonega, GA (Mountains)
Eglin AFB, FL (Swamp)

Two other seeds had already been planted in me in the weeks
leading up to that Oct '97 daytime reverie:

were in place...waiting

This was the exact spot
where the third seed,  

was to germinate...

30.408614, -86.683201

After a botched midnight raid and a jammed M60...
this emaciated, tendonitis ridden Ranger School surviver
was praying the Hail Mary over and over again...
and the Zodiac boat returned safely to shore.

I don't know how, because a strong
northerly wind was dead against us.
We were paddling back north
from Santa Rosa Island
and getting nowhere.

I remember focusing on the distant lights
(in Mary Esther, Florida)
and suddenly being ashore.

Was I thinking about that famous scene
in the WWII war movie, A Bridge Too Far
as we crossed this 1/2 mile stretch?


Just yesterday I just found out
that I have a new hero
and his name isn't
Ryan O'Neil
(although his humble confident
portrayal is commendable):

Major Julian A. Cook
3d Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
who led his battalion with unparalleled bravery
in the initial assault wave during the daring
daylight crossing of the Waal River.

This devout Catholic really did
pray the Hail Mary
all the way
to shore.

My bet is that MAJ Cook did not appreciate
the assumed nickname of his unit: Red Devils
The 504th acquired the nickname "The Devils in Baggy Pants," 
taken from an entry found in the diary of a German officer
killed at Anzio:
"American parachutists...devils in baggy pants...
are less than 100 meters from my outpost line. I can't sleep
at night; they pop up from nowhere and we never know
when or how they will strike next. Seems like the black-hearted

devils are everywhere..."

Major Julian A. Cook,
A great All-American!

Sincerely yours in Jesus through Mary,
Mike Rizzio

Imitate Mary
Become like Jesus
Live for the Triune God

Seek the Light of Our Lord Jesus Christ
See you on the High Ground!

* - J.M.J. + O.B.T. + M.G.R. stands for:
Jesus, Mary and Joseph;
O Beata Trinitas;
St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael

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