All Things Soldier: The Fightin’ Preacher

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

I have Phil Williams to “blame” for the topic of this particular Soldier column, and here is what happened. It was Publication Day, and I was coming up dry for a topic. That doesn’t happen very often, and without fail experience has taught me that if I just calm down, trust, pray, and wait, something will “pop.” As Phil did his opening radio monologue, which he entitles “The Right Side Way,” he told a story about a WWII soldier that reached out grabbed me, and I knew I had my topic. But, the question became, could I do it justice? Make it my own? Avoid getting sued for plagiarism? (I’m joking.) You and Phil will have to be the judge of that, so here goes.

Colonel Logan Weston was part of the legendary Merrill’s Marauders, a group of guys who served in the Pacific theatre and whose approach to waging war went on to become what we call today the Army Rangers. They were foot soldiers, they were an all-volunteer crew, and they embodied Special Forces in their strategies as well as their steely resolve.

Colonel Logan Weston was a man of deep faith and found a way, much like King David, to be a worshipping warrior who was deadly in battle. He had plans to become a chaplain, and that transfer didn’t come through. However, through WWII, the Korean War as well as the Vietnam War, he functioned as a chaplain, and on one occasion, it saved his life.

Weston wore a silver cross on his belt, and one day, unbeknownst to him until after, he very nearly got picked off by a Japanese sniper. Right when the sniper was going to take his shot, the sun hit the cross, the glint and glare hit the sniper, and he was not able to take his shot because he couldn’t see. The sniper then set up again, and noticed that it was a cross that had prevented him from firing, and he felt he should take that as a sign that this man was not to be harmed.

On another occasion during the Korean War, Weston directed mortar fire into advancing North Korean forces in the Battle of Pusan. He was shot in the arm and the chest, and had to be evacuated in order to receive the medical attention that would save his life and enable him to fight once more in Vietnam. Before he left the battlefield that day, he walked down the battle line and encouraged his men. He also helped organize the evacuation of the wounded, even though he was one of them.

What Logan represented is that for which everyone it seems these days is clamoring: leadership. His men literally would have followed him into hell, and did so. They were fiercely loyal because he gave them good reason to be. To this day he remains one of the most highly decorated soldiers in American history. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Stars, Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts, a Legion of Merit, Presidential Unit Citations, the Combat Infantryman Badge (3 awards), and the Parachute Jump Badge (3 awards).

The Fightin’ Preacher is the book that tells the story, and I believe it is a book whose time has come…again.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner