The Military Code of Conduct: Sworn to Obey

codeFrom 1971 to 1975, I served in the Air Force and was sworn to obey The Code of Conduct:

ARTICLE I: I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

ARTICLE II: I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

ARTICLE III: If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

ARTICLE IV: If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information nor take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them in every way.

ARTICLE V: When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country or its allies or harmful to their cause.

ARTICLE VI: I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

Over the years of military history, The Code of Conduct has proven its worth:

  • When Air Force Capt. Scott O’Grady’s F-16 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over Bosnia in 1995, he said the Code of Conduct gave him the will to persevere and to evade capture for six days: “I knew it was my duty to survive.” Even though he had been shot down and was alone behind enemy lines, O’Grady said: “I was still part of a team working to get me out, and I had to do my part.”

In a speech following O’Grady’s rescue, Defense Secretary William Perry said the pilot actions had embodied the spirit of the code: “They shot his plane down, but not his spirit.”

  • During Operation Desert Storm, Lt. Cmdr. Larry Slade, was in the backseat of an F-14 Tomcat performing the duties of a Radar Intercept Officer when it was hit be a surface to air missile. Slade ejected, but he was captured by the enemy.  Slade said it takes “takes perseverance, motivation, bravery and courage” to follow the code, and he believes the code helped him survive his 43 days as a POW.

There’s a Code of Conduct in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, and there is value in living a life that exemplifies each of them.  In the Old Testament it’s called The Ten Commandments, and in the New Testament it’s found in The Beatitudes.

While it would be wise for you to known each of these codes, I think you would also benefit from being familiar with the two verses that encapsulate each of them:

  • Micah 6:8: What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
  • Ephesians 4:1-3: I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

When you adhere to these codes, you can find the inspiration that will stiffen your backbone and give you the courage to live a life that glorifies God.

Connecting the Dots

dentonIf you are too young to remember the Vietnam War, you may not be familiar with a brave and courageous man. His name is Jeremiah Denton, and I was saddened when I read of his death last week.

The service of U.S. Navy Comdr. Jeremiah A. Denton, Jr., was nothing short of remarkable. As the pilot of an A-6 Intruder, he led bombing runs over North Vietnam. On July 18, 1965, he was shot down and taken prisoner.

While at the Hanoi Hilton, his captors intended to use him in a propaganda statement that would denounce the American war effort and praise the Viet Cong for their humane treatment.

Denton’s words were not as important as his actions. He said: “Whatever the position of my government, I believe in it, yes, sir,” he said. “I am a member of that government, and it is my job to support it, and I will as long as I live.” While he was speaking these words, he was also sending a Morse code message by blinking his eyelids:
T: – O: – – – R: • – • T: — U: • • – R: • – • E: • By connecting the dots, Denton’s message made sense.

When I think of the tenacious spirit of Denton, I’m reminded of Paul’s call to commitment: “ . . . run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up (Hebrews 12:1-3).”

One reason Denton persevered was because he connected the dots. He “fixed” his eyes on Jesus. “A man,” Denton said, “does a lot of praying in an enemy prison. Prayer, even more than sheer thought, is the firmest anchor.”

When the winds of adversity roar through your life at a dizzying speed, what is the anchor of your soul?

Note: I encourage you to watch the short video of Denton’s interview by clicking here.

MIA: Two Vowels and the Letter “M”

miaPOW-MIA: The white stitching of these 6 letters is sewn on the bill of my black hat. The purpose and design of hats like these is to call us to duty, and that duty is to not forget and to always remember the sacrifice of those who served.

When I came home from work last night, I laid my hat aside and sat down in my chair. A little later I glanced at my hat, and my attention was focused on two vowels and the letter “M.”

The letters spell MIA (Missing In Action), and when I spin them around and rearrange them, they form a declaration and a question:

• I am!
• Am I?

As I think about this declaration and the question, I contemplate a conversation in Isaiah chapter six: “Whom will I send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah responded: “Here I am. Send me!”

I get the idea that up to this point in his life, Isaiah was MIA. The item of importance is not so much what Isaiah was or was not, but whether I am or am not.

Can I make a declaration or must I ask a question?

• I am serving the Lord!
• Am I serving the Lord?

This declaration and question was at the heart of what Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 9:35-37: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Is your place in the harvest a declaration or a question?
• I am praying earnestly for more people to join hands and work in the harvest.
• I am actively at work in the harvest.
• Am I earnestly and actively using my gifts and abilities for God’s glory?

MIA: I am! or Am I? Two vowels and the letter “M”—How do they define your life?