Summary: A five part series dealing with what it means to get ahead in life and what it takes. based on Isaiah 55.
Sunday Sermon / Getting Ahead Sermon Series
April 22nd, 2007
Intro: What does it take to “get ahead?” What would make you happy? Really satisfied with life?
I tell you, it’s closer than you think, but most never reach it.
In the summer of 1988 Gregory Patton found himself temporarily assigned to Camp Pendelton, California Marine Corps Base. He’d requested to go to search and rescue school and he had gotten his wish.
About midway through the eight-week training his commanding officer told them that all available search and rescue personnel – including students – were being requested to be sent to nearby 29 Palms California Marine Corps Base. It seemed that one of their staff had turned up missing and they wanted them to come and help in the search effort. At first they were all excited. After all, they were barely halfway through the training program and they were already being called upon to put what they were learning to the test. But their excitement soon turned to sadness as they discovered that the person they were looking for had already been missing for nearly three weeks.
The military bureaucracy had fouled up again. A young eighteen-year-old marine was left out in the middle of a training field late on Friday night. Nobody had bothered to have a roll call that night because it was already late, so nobody knew he was missing. When Monday morning rolled around the private was reported as being UA – unauthorized absence. His buddies immediately reported that he had not been seen since the training assignment and that he might still be lost on the base. Three days later the Marine Corps recorded him AWOL – absent without leave. Two weeks later and only after the young private’s parents and friends pleaded with the Marine Corps- the search for the young man began. After a week of trying in vain on their own, they called in search and rescue.
They were all gravely disappointed, because they knew they were no longer looking for a live body. You see, 29 Palms is a Marine Corps Air and Ground Combat Centre located in the heart of the Mojave Desert. The average daytime temp in the summer is 120°. Chances of surviving just a few hours without water were slim. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that 29 Palms is a huge base. Knowing that he had been missing for three weeks only worsened the situation.
For two weeks twenty-five aircraft searched the base in an organized grid pattern. On their second week there their commander told us if they didn’t find the marine by the end of the day the search would be called off. Late in the afternoon a call came over his headphones – the young marine’s body had been found. Their commander wanted all the students to the site to witness how a recovery was performed. As their helicopter flew to the site he noticed they landed just on the other side of a small lake. Near the lake was a small building. Gregory later found out that the lake contained a fresh water spring that fed water to the entire base. The building was a pump station that contained a telephone and, was never locked. From the spot where the helicopter landed, where the young marine lay dead, all of this was hidden.