A Prompting from the Spirit Saves a Life
This story is one of many inspiring stories from the book Faith in the Service: Inspirational Stories from LDS Servicemen and Servicewomen, compiled by Chad S. Hawkins and published by Deseret Book. This story comes from Henry Zander, a civilian contractor who served in Iraq and Afganistan.
My first assignment in Iraq was my first experience in a combat zone. It was a daily occurrence on the base where I was staying, Balad Air Base, to have rocket or mortar attacks.
One day in May 2004, I had worked the previous day, through the night, and into the next day. It was approaching lunch time, and I was ready for bed. A few of my friends wanted me to go to lunch with them. Despite how tired I was, they persuaded me to go with them. The base was huge, so we drove a mile in our HMMWV, or Humvee. After lunch, we left the building and were walking back to our vehicle.
As we approached the vehicle, I had a very strong impression. Actually, it was more than an impression. I recognized it as the Spirit saying, “Don’t go back with them.” The message was clear. So I stopped and said, “Hey, I am not going to go back with you guys.”
My friends replied, “But you’re tired and you want to go to bed. We will get you back in just a few minutes.”
I thanked them but told them that I would find another way back. I ended up locating my vehicle, which another contractor had been borrowing, and drove it back to a location near my sleeping quarters.
My friends arrived at their building and parked the vehicle. Ten seconds after they parked their vehicle, a 127mm rocket flew over their heads and blew up the chaplain’s Humvee, which was parked two spaces over. The rocket pierced the soft skin of the Humvee body just behind the front left wheel and exploded directly beneath the engine. The vehicle actually capped much of the shrapnel and prevented collateral damage. My friends ran into an adjacent building, and one collapsed with exhaustion from the event.
We had multiple attacks throughout the day, which kept me up the rest of the day. It was late that night before I finally got to bed. Then I finally had time to reflect on the day’s events. Only then did I realize that if I had ridden back with them, I would have exited the Humvee from the rear and walked directly to my quarters, which were exactly in line with the explosion.
Considering the time it would have taken me to get out of the vehicle and head back to my room, I would have been at the direct point of impact. I then recalled the prompting I had received earlier that day that told me not to go back with my co-workers.
I know Heavenly Father is very aware of all of us. I knew that prior to this experience, but this just reinforced that knowledge. He lives; he absolutely lives. Being spared from the rocket explosion only confirmed what I already knew to be true.