Graduation concluded at Hondo Army Air Field in Texas that hot August day in 1944. Wings and bars were pinned, and the newly commissioned air Force cadets awaited their orders. The procedure: The top three in each graduating class would remain as instructors. The rest would be sent into combat.
Lt. Walter Roessig was third. As he saluted the captain, he asked, "Captain, who is next on the list?"
The captain replied, Lt. Stewart Robinson is the fourth man."
Roessig and Robinson had become close friends in navigation school. Roessig then asked, "Captain, if I go on to combat, does that mean that Lt. Robinson can remain here at this base as an instructor?"
"That is the procedure, Lt. Roessig," the captain answered.
Without hesitation, Lt. Roessig said, "Then place my name on the combat list, Sir. You see, Lt. Robinson is married, and his wife is expecting their first child. I'm single, so I'll go to combat, if Lt. Robinson can stay."
Soon the men said their farewells. They corresponded regularly. Robinson sent news when Stewart Harold Robinson II arrived.
No answer came.
The war ended.
Still no answer.
Then the message came. On the first mission, Roessig's B-24 was hit by a Japanese suicide plane. The plane was destroyed and the crew was lost. Roessig was sitting in the seat where Robinson should have been seated.
Lt. Robinson, my husband, shares this story, knowing that his friend gave his life not only for his country, but for him. And he remembers that 2,000 years ago Jesus gave His life so he could have eternal life.
Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).