This was forwarded to us by a reader:
There's a story about a young Marine named Michael who wrote a letter home to his mother while he was in the hospital after having been wounded in Korea in 1950. A Navy Chaplain named Father Walter Muldy apparently was given the letter, checked the facts and concluded what was in the letter was true. A year later he read the letter in public for the first time, to a gathering of some 5,000 Marines at the Naval Base in San Diego. Here is the letter:
I wouldn’t dare write this letter to anyone but you. Because no one else would believe it. Maybe even you will find it hard. But I’ve got to tell somebody.
First off, I’m in a hospital. Now don’t worry – you hear me? – don’t worry! I was wounded but I’m ok, you understand? Okay. The doctor says I’ll be up and around in a month.
But that isn’t what I want to tell you.
Remember when I joined the Marines last year? Remember when I left, how you told me to say a prayer to St. Michael every day? You really didn’t have to tell me that. Ever since I can remember you always told me to pray to St. Michael the Archangel. You even named me after him!
And I always have. When I got to Korea, I prayed even harder. Remember the prayer you taught me? Michael, Michael of the morning. Fresh Cord of Heaven Adorning… You know the rest of it. But I said it every day. Sometimes when I was marching, and sometimes resting. But always before I went to sleep.
I even got some of the other fellows to say it!
Well, one day I was with an advanced detail, way up forward in the front lines. We were scouting for the Commies. I was plodding along in the bitter cold. My breath was like cigar smoke.
I thought I knew every guy in the patrol, when alongside of me comes another Marine I’d never met before! He was bigger than any Marine I’d ever seen. He must have been six foot four – and built in proportion. It gave me a feeling of security to have such a buddy near.
Anyway, there we were. Trudging along. The rest of the patrol spread out.
Just to start a conversation I said: “Cold, aint it?” And then I laughed. There I was with a good chance of getting killed any minute, and I’m talkin’ about the weather!
My companion seemed to understand. I heard him laugh softly.
I looked at him. “I’ve never seen you before! I thought I knew every many in the outfit!
“I just joined at the last minute,” he replied. “The name is Michael.”
“Is that so?” I said, surprised. “That’s my name, too!”
“I know,” he said. And he went on: “Michael, Michael of the Morning.”
I was too amazed to say anything for a minute. How did he know my name and a prayer that you had taught me?
Then I smiled to myself. Every guy in the outfit knew about me. Hadn’t I taught the prayer to anybody that would listen? Why, now and then they even referred to me as St. Michael!
Neither of us spoke for a time. And then – he broke the silence.
“We’re gonna have some trouble up ahead.”
He must have been in fine physical shape for he was breathing so lightly I couldn’t see his breath. Mine poured out in great clouds.
There was no smile on his face now. Trouble ahead, I thought to myself. Well, with the Commies all around us, that’s no great revelation. Slow began to fall in great, thick clouds. In a brief moment, the whole country side was blotted out. And I was marching in a white fog of wet, sticky particles.
My companion disappeared! “Michael!” I shouted in sudden alarm.
I felt his hand on my arm. His voice was rich and strong: “This will stop shortly.” His prophecy proved to be correct. In a few minutes, the snow stopped as abruptly as it had begun. The sun was a hard, shining disc. I looked back for the rest of the patrol. There was no one in sight. We lost them in that heavy fall of snow. I looked ahead, as we came over a little rise.
Mom – MY. HEART. STOPPED! There were seven of ‘em! Seven Commies in their padded pants and jackets and their funny hats. But there wasn’t anything funny about them now. SEVEN RIFLES WERE AIMED AT US!
“DOWN MICHAEL!” I screamed and hit the frozen earth. I heard those rifles fire almost as one. I heard the bullets! There was Michael. Still standing! Mom, those guys couldn’t have missed! Not at that range. I expected to see him literally blown to bits! But there he stood! Making no effort to fire himself.
He was paralyzed with fear! That happens sometimes, Mom. Even to the bravest. He was – He was like a bird, fascinated by a snake! At least that’s what I though then. I jumped up to pull him down, and that’s when I got mine. I felt a sudden flame in my chest!
I often wondered what it felt like to be hit. Now… I know.
I remember feeling strong arms about me – arms that laid me ever so gently on a pillow of snow.
I opened my eyes for one. last. look. I was dying! Maybe I was even dead! I remember thinking, well, this isn’t so bad. Maybe I was looking into the sun. Maybe I was in shock. But it seemed I saw Michael standing erect again!
Only this time his face was shining with a terrible splendor!
But, as I say, maybe it was the sun in my eyes but – he seemed to change as I watched him. HE GREW BIGGER! HIS ARMS STRETCHED OUT WIDE!
Maybe it was the snow falling again, but there was a brightness around him. Like the wings of an angel. In his hand was A SWORD! A SWORD THAT FLASHED WITH A MILLION LIGHTS.
Well, that’s the last thing I remember till the rest of the fellows came up and found me. I don’t know how much time passed but now and then I had a moment’s respite from the pain and fever. I remember telling them of the enemy just ahead. “Where’s Michael?” I asked.
I saw them look at one another. “Where’s who?” asked one.
“MICHAEL. MICHAEL – that big marine I was walking with just before the snow squall hit us.
“Kid,” said the Sargent. “You weren’t walking with anyone. I had my eyes on you the whole time. You were getting too far out. I was just going to call you in when you disappeared in the snow.”
He looked at me. Curiously. “How’d you do it, kid?”
“How did I do WHAT?” I asked, half angry despite my wound. “This marine named Michael and I were just –“
“Son,” said the Sargent kindly. “I picked this outfit myself. And there just ain’t another Michael in it. You’re the only Mike in it!”
He paused for a minute. “Just how did you do it, kid? We heard shots. There hadn’t been a shot fired from your rifle. And there isn’t a bit of lead in them seven bodies over the hill there!”
I didn’t say anything. What could I say? I could only look. Open-mouthed, with amazement!
It was then the Sargent spoke again. “Kid,” he said gently. “Every one of those seven commies over the hill there was killed by a sword stroke.”
That’s all I can tell you, Mom. As I say, it may have been the sun in my eyes. It may have been the cold or the pain. But that’s what happened.
The prayer in the story seemed to be:
Michael, Michael, of the morning,
Fresh chord of Heaven adorning,
Keep me safe today
And in time of temptation,
Drive the devil away.
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