by Bob Wickizer

Dry Bones
Bob Wickizer
Ezekiel 37:1-3 [4-10] 11-14; Psalm 130; Romans 6:16-23; John 11:[1-16] 17-44
5 Lent
17 March 2002

In seminary we could spot them a mile away. Many of my classmates derided other classmates as "bishop wannabees" behind their back. One colleague who had served as an infantryman in Viet Nam compared his disdain for this class of careerist clergy to some of the officers fresh out of West Point who appeared for duty in Viet Nam.

The story told was not a pretty story or one full of honor like the movies of late such as "Blackhawk Down" or "Saving Private Ryan," but sadly the story is widely told by veterans. Those infantrymen who managed to stay alive and intact while serving in Viet Nam developed a mode of behavior based entirely upon their will to survive. Fear more than anything motivated them and survival was their only goal.

When a new platoon commanding officer arrived fresh out of West Point, the battle-hardened veterans would size up the officer within the first few hours. Occasionally the officer would tell of his father and grandfather's service as generals or senior officers in the Army. Stories of his family's great valor and military medals seemed to consume the new officer's talk time serving as a red flag to the experienced troops.

When the officer focuses on achieving fame or military honor it blinds him to his own fear and very often leads to decisions that can harm the entire unit under his command. (There were no women officers in combat during Viet Nam.) Apparently more than one officer was sent back to the United States injured before ever reaching the battlefield. The utilitarian rationale given by the troops for this practice simply noted that it was better to send one man home injured than seriously risk the lives of so many other men.

So my classmate would tell these stories of Viet Nam while wondering if there was some way we could shunt the "bishop track" students out of the way before the ...

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