Pointe du Hoc

At 4:30 AM on June 6, 1944 225 men of the 2nd Ranger Battalion under the command of Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder made their way toward the point of land which separated Utah and Omaha beaches the two primary beaches to be assaulted by the American forces on D-Day. Due to high wind and seas the Higgins boats were off course and delayed until the element of surprise was removed from the battle.

Their mission was to scale the more than 100 foot cliffs all at ninety degrees and put out of action the more than 300 Germans and the six 155 mm guns which they manned on top of the cliffs. These guns had a range of almost 15 miles and could strike both Omaha and Utah beaches as well as the ships brining the men to shore. They had to be taken.

The Higgins boats were armed with rocket launchers designed to fire the grapnels hooks to the top of the cliffs but because of the water soaked condition of the ropes many of the hooks failed to reach the top of the cliffs but the men made their assault and climbed to the top and took the Pointe.

A side note that one of the Frenchmen at Pointe Du Hoch told Carole and I about when we visited in 2012 was that the Germans did not know what the grapples were and thinking them to be some kind of bomb did not pull them loose and thus keep the Rangers from reaching the top.

The Rangers learned on reaching their destination that five of the guns had been removed and taken about a mile inland to an Apple Orchard in order to protect them from the navy shelling. The Rangers found them, and put all of the six guns out of commission and the battle.

Relief did not come for the 2nd Battalion as planned on that day and by the time it did arrived on June 8 there were only 90 of the 225 men left. Out of water and low on ammunition Lt. Col. Rudder and his men held on to their position and saved countless American lives from the German forces at the top of the Pointe.

“The Greatest Generation” held their ground, completed their task and I stood by many of their graves while in France. A great Memorial Day thank you to the men of the 2nd Battalion and countless others who did their best and gave their all that I might write this in a free country and send it across our world. – Ivan

Do you have a copy of “Just a Moment” by Ivan Raley – Available at Amazon and inraley@yahoo.com

Published in: on May 21, 2015 at 11:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

To Dad

If my father were living today he would be 110 years old. Born in 1905 he saw the first car come to Dyersburg, Tennessee, the first plane land, and the first paved highway.

His dad had moved to Dyersburg to work on the railroad, but ended up working for his brother in law in construction. He was gifted in concrete work so he stayed busy putting the finishing touch on bridges and beautiful buildings. My father inherited his dad’s talents.

In the 1920 when there was no work to be found my father used his skill with concrete to make tomb stones, putting the names and all the information on them. He also made frogs, flower pots, and a large goose all out of concrete. He didn’t make much, but he did make a living.

He was too young for the First World War and too old because of children, he had four, for the Second World War. Dad went to work with Fowler Cooper at the Federal Compress where he spent the next forty years sometimes in the late 20’s. He later moved to Jackson with Mr. Cooper, there I was born and live all of my life until after college.

Unlike me he was quiet, talked so little that you could have put all his words in a small paper bag. Read everything he could get his hands on, and could make anything out of either concrete or wood; his skills were professional, I inherited none of them.

He loved the Lord, mom, all of his children, arrow heads, and his wood shop in the back of our home at 246 South Lindsey Street. He was first class in his dealings with people, never took one drink, never smoked a cigarette, and never chewed tobacco. He always told me if you don’t take the first one then you don’t have to take the last one.

I miss him, sometimes after 28 years I still want to reach for the phone and call him. If God had given me millions of dollars and told me to buy a father I could not do as well as God did in giving me to dad. I love you dad, I wish I were more like you, I would sure be a better person. Happy Birthday, I know you are well and all the family is with you, I am the only one of 246 South Lindsey Street still left, see you Dad, love you. Ivan

Published in: on May 20, 2015 at 11:28 pm  Comments (2)  

The Battle

As we cook our steaks and enjoy our family gathering together this weekend let us not forget to take a moment and remember the men and women who gave their all that we might have the freedom to celebrate a holiday weekend.

For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave. Psalm 86:13

The Battle

On March 26, 1945 Marine Sgt. Horace Avery listened as the Jewish Chaplain read this verse to about 35 men of the Marine 3rdDivision.  On the eight miles of ash called Iwo Jima between February 19 and March 26, 1945 6,825 marines and sailors were killed, our causalities were 25,851.

There were 22,060 Japanese on the island and 21,844 of them died. Horace had survived and this verse forever became a part of his life as it stuck in his soul like a sharp sword and in December of 1945 when he came home to treatment in an American hospital that verse still burned in his soul. For the next 41 years he shared his story of the love of God and the protection he received from the landing on February 19 until victory on March 26.  Iwo Jima had charged a high price for its eight miles of ash, but he had been spared the depths of the grave.

My father’s brother, Shelby, took part in that battle as a member of the crew of a Navy LST that carried troop in for the landing. He had pictures of ships on each side of him blown out of the water which he had made with his small brownie camera.

Twenty two Marines and Five Navy men received the Medal of Honor during this battle the largest number for any single battle in our nation’s history.

This was our first invasion of the Japanese homeland and as you can see by the number of only 116 living out of the 22,060 what it would have cost if we had been required to make a main island invasion of Japan.

Many have wondered if the island was worth the high price in lives it cost, I suppose no one can really answer that question but it helps to know that before the end of the war more than 2,400 B 29 aircraft made emergency landings on the island and their 27,000 crewmen all survived. Difficult to measure the price of one life beside another so let us give thanks to our Lord for those who did survive and gratitude and praise for those who made the greatest sacrifice.


Published in: on May 19, 2015 at 11:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Have Been Injured

Yep, that is the bottom line, I am suffering from, not one, not two, but ten Phalanges fractures, all ten caused by a disorder known as Mental Block.

Certainly you understand with ten broken fingers I cannot type, no way, it just will not work. The doctor was extremely surprised that all ten of my digitals would be fractured, and that none of them would show any sign of a break in the x-ray, but after all, he said, if you can’t type then they must all be broken.

We examined all of my activities for the last five days and we cannot discover any reason for the fracture, but there they are, not one letter out of one finger, nothing, I just cannot put two words together to make a simple statement, so injured I am.

My wife called it mental block, but that is way too simple, with mental block you just go to sleep, dream something wonderful and hurry to type it when you wake up.  But with fractured Phalanges, no typing, no matter how many dreams, no matter how funny the guy was I sit by last night at a graduation, nothing, he talked on the phone the entire time, they had told us to turn off and put our phones down, but he was suffering from a broken ear, or brain. Maybe he was just rude, not sure, but me, me, I am injured, broken Phalanges, No blog, no story, nothing just a blank piece of paper.

I sure hope I heal before tomorrow, in the meantime look at some of the more than 1000 blogs already posted.  See you tomorrow, hopefully.

Published in: on May 18, 2015 at 11:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Diary

Alice slipped her leg out of the bed and then very silently pulled the other one out and stood in the darkness of their bedroom; she didn’t bother to put on her robe but left the room and went down the hall into the kitchen. She turned on the light over the stove, took some tea from the refrigerator, poured herself a glass and tried to decide what was bothering her. Looking at the clock in the kitchen she saw that it was 2:15 am, it was now Friday morning June 9, 1945. She walked into the living room, got the picture of her son and pulled the kitchen drawer all the way out and retrieved her diary from the very back of the drawer. She begin to pin some notes on that Friday morning of June 9, stained by the tears flowing from her eyes she replaced the diary, put the drawer back in the cabinet, drink her tea and wept some more, she did not know why but she just wept.

On Thursday afternoon of June 22 she saw her pastor standing at the front door even before he began to knock. She opened the door and saw the Western Union Messenger standing beside him, now she began to feel weak. Their community like so many small and large towns had a link between the pastor’s group and Western Union so that a pastor could accompany the tragic news to the family.

The man read it slowly and then handed her the telegram, her pastor held her for a moment and then others whom he had called begin to walk up the steps to the house.

That night after everyone had gone and her husband was trying to go to sleep, she again took the picture of their son to the kitchen got her diary and begin to write.

Three weeks later they received a letter from her son’s captain telling them what a find son they had and how he had been with him on the morning of June 9, 1944 when a mortar hit their location taking their son’s life. That night she again wrote in her diary after all in the house were asleep.

Thirty-four years later in August of 1978 as her husband prepared to clean out the house after her death and get it ready to sell he found the diary. It was then he discovered that at the time their son had been killed his mother was awake in the kitchen writing in her diary that she was greatly disturbed and worried about him.

I wonder how many of the other more than 416,000 mothers had such moments and shed such tears. Our debt is not only to those who paid the price of freedom with their lives but also to all the mothers, fathers, wives, and family who shared in their sacrifice. Ivan

Published in: on May 17, 2015 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Where Are The Fish

Don’t you just love the guy standing on the dock when you are returning from an all-day fishing trip without any fish, who holds us a stringer of fish so heavy he has to get a friend to help him display it to all of those who have come to admire the days catch by the fishermen?

That is the way it seems to always happen to me.  I come back with only one fish on the stringer and that one is smaller than some folks bait.  I would not have kept it except my dad always said it was bad luck not to keep the first fish you caught if it was legal.

There I am with my minnow and the dock is full of people taking pictures of the arriving super fisherman with his two man stringer filled to capacity. I really want to just pull away and come back another day but time will not permit so I make a hundred excuses for my baby catch and then listen as all the people ask the successful fisher where he caught them all.  I heard him say out on the lake near where that guy was fishing; pointing to me to be sure that everyone knew I could not fish, all in the same spot.  Of course he is not giving longitude or latitude, that is a secret he will keep for his next trip but he is certain he could hear my radio from where he was fishing and just knew that I too was catching the mother lode.

The disciples were having one of those nights.  They, professional fisherman, had fished all night, the nets were empty, their bodies were tired, and they were ready to slip into port hopefully unnoticed. Then this guy who never fishes, called to them from the shore and said, “Try the other side”.  Some nerve he had, telling professionals how and where to fish.  ‘Tried that’ they shouted back, no need trying to keep their empty boat a secret any longer since he had pointed out to all on the lake that they had caught nothing.

But he was a friend, they liked him, wouldn’t hurt his fillings for anything, so why not, one more cast wouldn’t kill them though it would be a close call, so they obeyed and out goes the net one more time.

WOW! Were they surprised?  Their net was so full that they thought it would break.  They called to all the other fishermen in the area to come and help them and they all filled their boats.  What a fishing trip, greatest catch of their careers and all because of a friend who had never fished. Why people would be talking about that catch for weeks, in fact, two thousand years later people are still talking about it.

What’s the lesson? When you go fishing ask Jesus where to fish? I don’t think that is the central point although I have asked Him to let me catch a fish.  Not sure that’s the central prayer of His daily devotion, not really sure how much weight that one carries.

Maybe the point is to do what the disciples did, Obey Him.  Now that’s the catcher, discovering what Jesus is doing and how He wants you to be involved in His work.

Why not try what the disciple did?  Listen to Jesus, discover His will, and do it.

Maybe you don’t know where to start; you don’t even know where the boat is let alone the fish. I promise you there is someone in your area who has met problems just like yours and discovered the location of the answer. You will have a better chance of finding that person in a local church where people just like you gather weekly to seek God’s direction for their lives.  If you have trouble finding a place like that email me at inraley@yahoo.com , I am sure I can help you catch far more than fish.

Published in: on May 14, 2015 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Day I Became a Man

Pfc. James Scott dropped from the rope ladder into his Higgins Boat; he was next to the last of the 36 members of his Platoon. A navy coxswain manned the helm and two navy seamen manned each of the guns one mounted on each side of the stern. Lt. Moore was near the front, surrounded by a Master Sergeant, three other sergeants, a radio operator and an aid to carry the radio. The medic, Sgt. Carson road near the stern of the boat so as to be among the last of the men to leave. It seemed to Pfc. Scott and all the men that it took forever for the boat to make the final turn and head toward the beach. He looked over the side just in time to see the boat to their right explode, that was the last time he took a look. You could feel the craft scraping the bottom and suddenly the bow fell open and all of the men began a mad rush to the shore. Lt. Moore only took three steps before he was floating in the water surrounded by blood, the Master sergeant made it to the shore but only one of the other sergeant hit dry ground. He saw the medic, Sgt. Carson pulling two men back to the Higgins boat and noticed that others had joined him in getting the wounded into the boat so they could get back to their ship. He never saw the medic again. He found his Master sergeant and stuck as close to him as he could, he fired his rifle but never knew if he hit anything or not. They dug in on the edge of the cliff and waited for crews from the other Higgins boats to join them. Two days later in a hedgerow a mile from the beach he wrote his first letter home telling his family that he was safe, on land, and busy. Fifty years later at the age of 69 he retuned to that beach in France ; with the tears of an old man he thanked God for the safety of that day and the nine months which followed as he journeyed across France into Germany . He remembered Lt. Moore, Medic Carson and so many others that never made it home, he wept, and he prayed. That June day of 1944 had forever changed his life. As he looked across the beach he said, “Thank you Lord for letting me become a man on June 6, 1944 . Thank you for allowing me to be part of something bigger than myself.”

Ivan Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on May 13, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

To A Mother

As I studied and prepared for the message on Mother’s Day I read this letter from President Abraham Lincoln, to Mrs. Bixby of Massachusetts, listen and hear the faith of the President and the compassion of our Commander in Chief.

Executive Mansion, Washington, Nov. 21, 1864

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom. Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

Abraham Lincoln

Before I hear from many of you I realize that history says that after the war it was learned that she had not lost all five of her sons, but that is not the point, the power of the letter is Lincoln’s compassion and concern for a mother. Check also how he tells her to discover her comfort in the Lord.

Published in: on May 12, 2015 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

From My Grandmother’s Garden

Each morning, most often before the rest of us were awake; my grandmother would go out to her garden located next door to their home on Tucker Street in Dyersburg to choose some special items for the day.

We would enjoy sliced tomatoes at breakfast, vegetables at lunch and still other items at what we called supper in the late afternoon. Sometimes there would be watermelon at others cantaloupes, always beans and potatoes.

All summer long she would make that journey to her garden and bring her basket filled with goodies back to the kitchen.  The fruit of her garden for the table of her family.

God in His Word has instructed us to be a garden. We are to allow His Spirit to live and dwell in our lives so that we would have fruit from our garden to place on the table of the lives of those with whom we share life. God did not desire that we live alone as an island in a great sea of mankind. He teaches us to live the kind of lives that will bless others.

How about going into our garden of life and see how many of the fruits of the Spirit we can harvest to share with those who are touched by our lives.  I hope it will be as tasty as my grandmother’s garden.

Published in: on May 11, 2015 at 11:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Do Good

Do Good

I listened as a speaker shared a devotion from Psalm 37:3 ‘Trust in the Lord and do good.’  I loved what he said about ‘doing good’; when you see an opportunity to do the right thing do it.

I believe all of us could learn from that example. As I thought about that several things struck me as powerful tools for us to use as Christians. For example, I met a man at the airport in McAllen, Texas and as we talked I learned that he would come to the airport two or three times each week and when he saw a service man arriving home without anyone there to greet him he would start a conversation with him and if he needed it give him a ride home.

He told me of once saving a young man from renting a car, his parents were in poor health and could not come for him so he would have to rent a car to travel the 130 or so miles to his home. This man had taken him, no charge, just glad to do good.

How about crossing the parking lot on Sunday morning and seeing a piece of trash on the lot, stopping to pick it up and seeing that it was put in the right place? Not a big deal, but it is doing good.

How about a phone call to someone who is shut in and unable to get out, maybe a note to someone who has blessed your life.

How about a ‘Big Mac’ for the man standing on the corner with the sign, ‘Hungry need food.’ It might be holding a small child’s hand while the mother tries to get thing together to get on a plane, saying hello to a stranger in church, thank you to a waitress in a restaurants.

Holding the door for folks to get in before you walk in at a public place even though it means they get in line in front of you. Nothing profound and life changing, but each an act of seeing an opportunity to do good and doing it. If you wait for the great and miss all the ‘small’ you will likely never see the great.

Published in: on May 10, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

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