Our friend Jack Ogilvie’s event filled-life plays out like a weekly television action series. He has been in and out of scrapes and danger literally hundreds of times. But he is confident that God is responsible, in each incident, to protect and deliver him.
Many of these have been caused by his own foolishness in his young years and, let’s admit it, we have all experienced that in one way or another. We will look at one story today that escalates and gets much worse before it gets better.
Jack says, “Another fellow and I were where we shouldn’t have been one night.” He didn’t elaborate on that, except to say it was at a house in the suburbs of Algiers. A very intense air raid happened and they needed to exit ASAP. This was a major attack and there would be many casualties.
They were in a jeep and the only headlights during wartime were the very small pinpoint lights. Jack was driving and they were crossing a narrow two-lane bridge. In the pitch black darkness and confusion, Jack was keeping a very conscious effort to know where the edge of the bridge was and avoid the thirty-foot plunge to the dry river bed.
Seemingly, out of nowhere the pinpoint headlights of a large British truck appeared. The truck was on top of them before Jack could react and he went over the bridge to a bad crash, thirty feet below. Jack immediately knew he was injured fairly bad. He had broken both elbows. His buddy lay lifeless, or close to it. As he was able to begin moving, Jack knew he had to get help.
No immediate help was to be found and Jack finally made it to a village and, hoping to find help at a farm house, the farmer called his dogs on him. He was bitten all over his body from the attack. He finally made it back to the road and to another house where he roused a sleeping man. This man drove him back to where his friend was last seen, but he was not there. So they made their way to the hospital.
This being such a night of devastation because of the air raid, the line of vehicles going to the hospital was over a mile long and all of the hospitals were full. So Jack was taken to the front lines and the military hospital there. They operated on his arms and he was in casts for a time.
After weeks in casts on both arms, the first one was removed and it was healing normally. But the second arm had another problem. There was a very bad infection of osteomyelitis. At that time this was an incurable malady.
Jack was loaded onto a French railroad car filled with people who had gangrene. Two of the people in the car Jack was in died on the way. They were en route to a desert hospital where patients with incurable diseases were taken to be forgotten and to die. Jack says, “They didn’t want you around anyone else. Many of the patients there had gonorrhea or syphilis.” It was a horrific place where death reigned and misery plagued every day. Moans and shrieks were heard throughout the day and night.
“Each day for nine straight days the doctors looked at my arm and said they would have to amputate.” Jack remembers. But they were so busy with gangrene and the other cases they never had time to work on him. He says they told him, “There wasn’t an option, but to amputate. You talk about depressed…!”
There were no screens on the windows of this “hospital.” Sadly, Jack says, “The bugs, flies and stench were terrible…more than you could imagine! There were people were dying all around me.” Then Jack contracted malaria, “I was out of my head for three days. When I woke up, the malaria had cured the osteomyelitis!” Jack knows this was God’s hand and he humbly said, “Why would God let me go through all of that? I don’t know.”
But it was terribly painful to move the arm and they operated on it again. He was told if he could move his arm 15° he could return to his squadron. At that time, he thought that he would never fly again. “Medical officials came in,” Jack remembered, “and they had a big meeting. They decided that I couldn’t go back and orders had already been cut.” Jack was to return to the States and attend radar school. “This was a big letdown from flying.” This was especially true because orders had been cut for him to return to his unit.
Jack was the only officer in the group that he traveled with, as they set out to return Stateside. He carried the satchel that had everyone’s paperwork and orders as they traveled in the back of a large military truck. Jack had his original orders that said he was to return to his squadron, and he had his new orders for radar school, all in the satchel.
As they rode along over the bumpy road, Jack couldn’t remember where the new orders were sending him. So he opened the satchel, retrieved his new orders, and began reviewing them. All of a sudden they hit a very large bump and he lost his grip and his new orders flew out of the back of the truck and into the wind. But he still held his original orders. Jack quipped, “Who made the bump?”
His implication was obvious…God placed that bump there and you will not convince Jack Ogilvie otherwise. He understands this as another incident in his life where God led him into uncertainty and then miraculously rescued him. He could have lost his arm. He could have died of malaria or had serious side effects from it. But the rest of the story is that Jack would fly again.
Jack and the truckload of wounded warriors arrived at the depot where they all dispersed to their destinations. Jack laughingly said, “I couldn’t tell them I lost my orders! So I gave them my old orders and they told me to go to a certain airport and within two hours I was back at my squadron.” They were expecting him and all his personal belongings were still as they were when he left. He said, “I kept expecting someone to appear and redirect me, but they never did.”
For the next six months he would fly convoy patrol. Their planes flew between 200 and 400 feet in a circle above the convoy. “In that window of time,” he said, “I had to teach myself to fly again with a bum arm.”
I said, “It is obvious that God has had his hand on you.” Jack replied, “It just doesn’t seem possible that He’s done this time after time…But in those days’ people would draw straws not to ride with me!”