Clint Morey - Big Sky Writer
Don't Play With Things That Go Boom
BOOM "I Wasn't Supposed to Hear"
BOOM "I Wasn't Supposed to Hear"
Don't Play With Things That Go Boom

Listen to the podcast by clicking the player above or read the transcript below.

Episode 17 “I Wasn’t Supposed to Hear”

Lessons from my days in olive drab.

Episode 17 “I Wasn’t Supposed to Hear”

My time in Vietnam took an unexpected and disturbing turn.

I had always been proud of the work we did in our artillery unit. We were efficient and effective.

Whenever a call came in from an infantry unit that we supported in the field, we would process the information, calculate the firing solutions, double-check manually, instruct the guns, launch a marking round, and after making final adjustments, give the information back to the guns and launch a barrage of artillery shells in support of our troops.

The lives of our soldiers were at stake and seconds mattered. We had to be accurate, and we had to be quick.

After a fire mission, the field troops would report back to us on the effectiveness of our artillery support. Usually, we hit the mark. We would then relay the success to our gun crews, affirming their good work.

I took pride in what we did. But one day, something occurred that shook this sense of pride.

I was not supposed to hear this

As I mentioned earlier, we had several radios that put us at risk of being targeted if an attack occurred. These radios also let us listen to the conversations among our troops.

I was listening to some soldiers in the field laughing and joking about a fire mission we had just completed for them. Their amusement seemed out of place and disturbing.

As I continued to listen, a harsh reality unfolded. The fire mission had not targeted enemy forces but unsuspecting farmers. The soldiers had seen some farmers out in the field doing what farmers do — which is farming, and they thought it would be fun to see how the farmers would respond if artillery shells started blowing up around them.

So, they called in the fire mission.

When the “marking round” exploded in the air above the farmers, the infantry guys laughed and shared stories about the men, women and children who dropped their tools and ran as fast as they could to get away from what they knew was coming.

And then our shells arrived.

Our soldier’s amusement stemmed from watching the terrified civilians flee the artillery barrage.

How can this be funny?

We had fired on civilians for sport.

I felt sick inside.

I had unknowingly participated in an act that I would consider a crime.

Although I wasn’t the one who spotted the farmers and called in the fire mission, I was the one who responded to the call. I was the one who calculated the firing solution. I was the one who gave the command to the guns to fire.

Shooting at civilians was not what I had signed up for.

It was not anything that I wanted to be a part of.

It was wrong.

But what should I do?

Where to go for direction

History has given us many examples of individuals who had to make choices about their actions during wartime.

After World War II, we were made aware of many of the atrocities committed by Germany and Japan. While those atrocities may have been sanctioned by the state, the fact is individuals had to carry out those atrocities.

Were the individuals who did the atrocities responsible for their actions, or was the defense “I was ordered to do it” enough to get them off the hook?

If you were a German soldier ordered to kill unarmed Jews, and Poles, and Gypsies, and handicapped, were you responsible if you were just following orders?

If you were a Japanese soldier ordered to kill, rape, and torture unarmed Chinese civilians during the “Rape of Nanking” were you responsible if you were just following orders?

Instances like these abound during World War II from both Axis and Allied forces, as well as in wars throughout the centuries.

The question I had to face … was I morally culpable for my part in this action?

Just follow orders

I knew I wouldn’t get in trouble with the Army for following orders, even if those orders included firing high explosive shells on civilians.

But I wasn’t looking for a legal defense.

I needed to know if I was responsible before God for what I did.

So, I sought the Lord for direction. Over a two-day period, I read the New Testament. Yes, the entire New Testament. And I prayed, asking the Lord for wisdom and direction concerning what I should do.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."
James 1:5 (ESV)

I needed God’s wisdom.

As I prayed and read the Word, I believed the Lord gave me direction.

I was not responsible for what others did.

However, I was responsible for what I did.

The war continued and we continued to provide artillery support for the troops in the field.

If we received a call for a fire mission, we responded quickly. American lives were at stake.

I hoped that what I had participated in earlier was a rogue action that would never be repeated.

Then it happened … again

I was wrong.

Just a couple of days later, it happened again.

We responded to a fire mission, did our job to support our troops, but after the fire mission was over I checked the radio chat of the infantry units talking to themselves. I learned that once again, we had fired on civilians in the field “for fun.”

This was no longer a theoretical “what would I do if” issue?

Now I had a decision to make.

Was I going to use the “just following orders” excuse, or was I going to take responsibility for my actions?

And how exactly would I do that?

I’ll tell you what I did and what happened to me in the next episode.

I can’t emphasize enough that God offers you wisdom if you will seek that wisdom from Him.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."

James 1:5 (ESV)

Don’t rely on the “wisdom” of the woke, or the “wisdom” of social media, or the “wisdom” of job security.

The only wisdom that matters is the wisdom of God, which can be found in His word.

We need that wisdom to survive in our corrupt world today.

If you work for a school district that teaches children that they can change genders or practice racism (against what they consider the “right” races) are you responsible for what is being done to those children?

If you work for a hospital or medical clinic that brutally murders defenseless babies in the womb, do you bear some responsibility for killing those babies?

You need God’s wisdom to live in today’s world.

Then you need courage to follow what God shows you.

Clint Morey - Big Sky Writer

Don't Play With Things That Go Boom

Lessons from my days in olive drab.