The Intergalactic Presence of the Blevins Clan

Often on my commute I listen to audio books. I bounce between books on history and religion, but occasionally I’ll listen to fiction. The fiction book I am currently listening to is Star Wars: Aftermath. I’m not here to write a book review, but to notice one passing reference that 99.999% of the world will pay no attention to: Captain Blevins. His only reference in the story is when a character named Sinjir Rath Velus recounts seeing Blevins dead on the moon of Endor during the battle that took place there in The Return of the Jedi. According to Velus, Blevins was a “bully and a braggart who had truly believed in the Empire’s ideals”[1].

While that may be sad for Blevinses who pulled for the Rebel Alliance, over the years, I’ve come to realize that the Empire were the good guys, but the victors get to write the history books. Captain Blevins died an unsung hero of the Empire’s effort to maintain order against the rising chaos. But I digress…

So where did author Chuck Wendig get the inspiration for Captain Blevins? I don’t know for certain, but my guess is Bret Blevins, a comic book artist, story board artist, and fine art painter[2]. According to Wookiepedia, Mr. Blevins has done art for some Star Wars comics[3]. In fact, Mr. Blevins has drawn quite a few recognizable comic characters in his career. He has some excellent examples of his art posted to his website.

We may never know if Bret Blevins is the namesake of the ill-fated Captain Blevins, but we can be certain that if there are Blevinses in a galaxy far away, then the name lives on.

References:

  1. https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Blevins
  2. http://www.bretblevins.com/
  3. https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Bret_Blevins

Migrating articles from the Bleddyn Heritage site

Several years back I set up Bleddyn Heritage with the best of intentions of creating a site dedicated to all things related to the surname Bleddyn, with all its derivative spellings. Well… Several years later, I’ve really not done a whole lot with the site, so I’ve migrated the meagre few posts I created there to this site. As I put them here, I kept their original date stamps so they appear here chronologically of when I wrote them in the first place.

While I still plan to maintain that domain name for a future, yet-to-be-identified purpose, It won’t have any content that isn’t on this site as well. For the time being, I am going to redirect that domain to point here. If you’re interested in what was on that site, here are the articles I migrated over:

The Whole Armor of GOD

I have been blessed on occasion to have opportunity to present a lesson from GOD’s word to the local congregation of Christians with whom I’ve worshipped for the past couple years. I’ll be the first to admit, that my public speaking skills are woefully inadequate given the levity of the subject matter. I can’t imagine any topic that I could speak or write on where I am as concerned about presenting truth as I am when I am speaking on a topic from the Bible. My crutch every time I’ve gotten up to speak has been a visual presentation. It helps the congregation to keep track of what I’m speaking about, and it helps me to stay on topic. As time permits, I’d like to convert those slide presentations and the scripts I used to speak into posts here on my site. I hope you find them as beneficial for you as they have been for me.

(NB: I believe I am within my rights under fair use laws in the United States to use the images presented below as derivative works, except as where otherwise noted. If that is not the case, please let me know and I will remove them.)

One topic that I’ve spoken on, and surely countless myriads of others over the history of the church comes from Ephesians chapter 6; the whole (or full) armor of GOD. The particular Sunday that I presented this lesson was around Memorial Day, and I led off with this slide:

The Whole Armor of God.001

To many, Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer. It’s a weekend for grilling out and spending time with family. For others it has a different meaning.

What many people don’t think about is that the day Memorial Day is set aside to remember those who have died to protect the freedoms that we enjoy so much in this country. There are two verses that come to mind to remind me of this sacrifice. The first is John 15:13: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. The next is Romans 5:7: For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

Throughout the history of the United States, men and women have done just that. They have died so that we might be free. As great a sacrifice as that was, none of them were perfect, and none of them died so that we could be redeemed from our sin. Jesus did, and he was the only one who could.

The Whole Armor of God.002

We have examples of warfare throughout the Bible. We read of Abraham going into battle in Genesis. We know that David was a warrior king. In the New Testament we read of soldiers, like Cornelius, who were Christians. As Christians, we are all called to be soldiers of Christ, but we fight a spiritual war against our enemy Satan and his demonic followers.

Like soldiers here on earth, we have to be prepared for battle. In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul instructs us to put on the whole armor of God. Read with me in chapter 6 verses 12 and 13.

The Whole Armor of God.003.png

We see here the general reason why we need armor. Let’s look at a few more good reasons.

The Whole Armor of God.004

First, Peter tells us in his first letter that Satan is as a roaring lion, walking about to see who he can might devour. We get a glimpse of this in the book of Job when Satan was before God in the throne room of Heaven. God asked the devil where he had come from, and the devil responded that he’d be going to and fro on the earth and walking up and down it. Satan was a restless soul, looking to cause trouble. And we know from the accounts of the Gospels that there were others on the Earth with him, as we just read in Ephesians chapter 6. There are principalities, and powers and rulers of the darkness of this world. We cannot face such enemies alone. We need the strength of God that comes from the armor he has provided us. Let’s take a closer look at what that armor is.

The Whole Armor of God.005.png

First, we must gird our loins in Truth. Ephesians 6:14 tells us: Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth… This is the first step in preparing to arm ourselves. So what does girding our loins mean? That’s not a phrase that makes a lot of sense to us today. Let’s take a look at what girding one’s loins refers to.

The Whole Armor of God.006
Image copyright © Art of Manliness and Ted Slampyak, retrieved from http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/10/02/how-to-gird-up-your-loins-an-illustrated-guide/

We have to remember that in the first century in the Middle East and most parts of the Roman Empire, men didn’t wear pants. They wore long tunics. You can imagine how this would have gotten in the way. This is the reason Roman Legionnaires wore short, kilt-like skirts. The illustration shows how someone would roll up their tunic so that it wouldn’t be in the way. With the tunic tied in place, the first step in preparing for battle was complete.

In spiritual warfare, the truth is like that tunic. It has to be always with us whether we are working or fighting. Where the tunic provided basic protection from the elements, the truth is our spiritual base layer. It has to be in place for the rest of the armor of God to go on top of. The truth, God’s word is our foundation.

The Whole Armor of God.007

On top of that base layer of truth, we must layer righteousness. While the truth is essential, just knowing God’s word isn’t enough. Unbelievers can know the truth. We read in Mark 1:24 of an unclean spirit saying to Jesus: “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God”. We also read in James 2:19 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble”. If we read on to the next verse in that passage, James make the point of why righteousness must be layered on top of truth: “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”. We can’t just know the truth, we have to have action. Righteousness comes through action. In Romans 4:3 we are told “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness”. This believe had action. In Genesis chapter 17, God commanded that Abraham and the men of his house and their descendants be circumcised. Abraham obeyed. In Genesis chapter 22, God commanded Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, and Abraham obeyed, but God saw his faith and provided a sacrifice in Isaac’s place. We know this is a foreshadowing of God sacrificing His own Son, which shows us God doesn’t ask us to do anything He wasn’t willing to do. Our God leads by example, as does His Son.

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For us to follow Christ’s lead, we have to have the right footwear to endure the long march. Think about a time in your life when you were walking in an ill-fitting, uncomfortable pair of shoes. Bad shoes make everything harder. The shoes we are told to wear are designed to make the march ahead possible.

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After we’ve gird out loins, put on our breastplate, and laced up our shoes getting ready to march, we have to take up our shield. Our spiritual shield is a shield of faith. With a strong faith, we are told by Paul that we can quench the fiery darts of the wicked. Our shield of faith gives us courage. We hold it in front of us to deflect the attack of our enemy. The Romans had a tactic called a shield wall where the legionnaires would overlap their shields to provide a near-inpenatrable defense. Like the Legionnaires, we are stronger as Christians when we are supporting each other.

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The last essential piece of armor is the helmet. The head is where reason and observation dictate action. A blow to the head impacts our ability to engage in action, and a hard enough blow kills us. We can take a lot of other damage to other areas of our bodies, but our heads are a weak point. Salvation is protection for the life to come. And when we put on salvation, we are called to action.

Finally, in this inventory of items for spiritual warfare, we must take up the sword of the Spirit. Paul tells us this is the Word of God. The Bible is our offensive weapon. If we choose any other text, we’ve chosen wrong. No other book is up to the task of fighting against Satan and his followers.

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In this spiritual war, we are guaranteed victory, but not necessarily in this life. In the spirit of Memorial Day, I’d like for us to consider several other soldiers of Christ who fought the good fight, but paid with their lives. As you can see from this list, they did not live out peaceful years and die of old age. Like the service members we honor this weekend in America who died in combat, our brethren listed here died in spiritual combat. They await their reward on the day of Judgement. We may not be called to be martyrs, but we might fight the good fight.

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As Christians, we are enlisted in the army of God. If you’re not a Christian, you are not a part of this army. In fact, you are fighting for the enemy. Fortunately, you can make this right. Cross the battle line and get on the winning side.

Nothing New Under the Sun

[N.B. I originally posted this article on the Society of Southern Gentlemen blog. I don’t plan to maintain that site, so I am merging all the posts there onto this site, but keeping the original timestamps.]

That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after.

Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 (ASV)

We’re often told how irrelevant the Bible is in modern times, and while I hold the Bible to be truth, I think there are threads that run through it that are common to all mankind. The Founding Fathers referred to those threads as Natural Law. I hold firmly to the fact that there is an Intelligent Designer of the Universe, who is known imperfectly by various names throughout the history of humanity, such as EL, Brahma, Ahura Mazda, the Great Architect of the Universe, and so forth. I’m not advocating that all faiths lead to Heaven, just that there are hints of truth in some of their early teachings. I’m off on a tangent, but I say all this to lead into an interesting article published in the MIT Technology Review.The text begins thus:

Back in 1995, Kurt Vonnegut gave a lecture in which he described his theory about the shapes of stories. In the process, he plotted several examples on a blackboard. “There is no reason why the simple shapes of stories can’t be fed into computers,” he said. “They are beautiful shapes.” The video is available on YouTube.

Vonnegut was representing in graphical form an idea that writers have explored for centuries—that stories follow emotional arcs, that these arcs can have different shapes, and that some shapes are better suited to storytelling than others.

Vonnegut mapped out several arcs in his lecture. These include the simple arc encapsulating “man falls into hole, man gets out of hole” and the more complex one of “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl.”

Vonnegut is not alone in attempting to categorize stories into types, although he was probably the first to do it in graphical form. Aristotle was at it over 2,000 years before him, and many others have followed in his footsteps.

However, there is little agreement on the number of different emotional arcs that arise in stories or their shape. Estimates vary from three basic patterns to more than 30. But there is little in the way of scientific evidence to favor one number over another.

Today, that changes thanks to the work of Andrew Reagan at the Computational Story Lab at the University of Vermont in Burlington and a few pals. These guys have used sentiment analysis to map the emotional arcs of over 1,700 stories and then used data-mining techniques to reveal the most common arcs. “We find a set of six core trajectories which form the building blocks of complex narratives,” they say.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601848/data-mining-reveals-the-six-basic-emotional-arcs-of-storytelling/?utm_campaign=add_this&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=post

As many of us who’ve watched movies in the last couple decades can attest, this seems like a pretty reasonable statement. We can recognize this. It is formulaic.

Also, there are examples of lost technology that is more advanced than anything that we had up until the past 100 years. A perfect and recent example of this is the Antikythera Mechanism:

More than a hundred years ago an extraordinary mechanism was found by sponge divers at the bottom of the sea near the island of Antikythera. It astonished the whole international community of experts on the ancient world. Was it an astrolabe? Was it an orrery or an astronomical clock? Or something else?

For decades, scientific investigation failed to yield much light and relied more on imagination than the facts. However research over the last half century has begun to reveal its secrets. The machine dates from around the end of the 2nd century B.C. and is the most sophisticated mechanism known from the ancient world. Nothing as complex is known for the next thousand years. The Antikythera Mechanism is now understood to be dedicated to astronomical phenomena and operates as a complex mechanical “computer” which tracks the cycles of the Solar System.

http://antikythera-mechanism.gr/project/overview

To give an idea of how complex this machine was, take a look at this video:

My point is this: it has taken us quantum leaps in scientific advances to recognize we’re not as much smarter than our ancestors than we believe we are. For those of us who allow ourselves a modicum of humility (which I am often accused of not having), we understand from Ecclesiastes (written thousands of years ago) that there is “nothing new under the sun”. No, Solomon didn’t have a rocket ship to Mars, our ancestors were as intelligent as we are, they just didn’t have the sum of technology to build upon that we do… or did they, and we just haven’t found record of it yet?

Blazon of William Blethyn’s Armorial Achievements

Arms emblazoned on William Blethyn’s Pedigree Roll

[Edited December 23, 2020 to correct inaccuracies in the blazons.]

A couple years ago I posted the William Blethyn pedigree roll with the promise of transcribing it. I’m a little behind schedule in following through with that, but I would like to make an attempt to blazon the arms attributed to him.

  • Arms: Quarterly, 1st and 4th, Gules, three chevronnels argent (Corenny hir Lydanwyn), 2nd, Azure, a chevron between three cocks combed, armed, and wattled gules (Meuric ap Tewdric), 3rd, Or, three lions passant guardant gules armed and langued azure, a crescent dexter chief for difference gules.
  • Crest: Upon a wreath of gules and argent, on a mound a Paschal Lamb proper, holding between its fore hooves a long cross argent from which flies a banner of the Cross of St. George.”
  • Motto: Et Mica Mihi (And a grain for me)


Ten Commandments of Chivalry

If you follow any of the major blogs in the “Manosphere“, you might have noticed recently a bit of back and forth over the concept of Chivalry in the modern world. I’ll stay neutral on that discussion, but I want to take a moment to comment on the ten commandments of Chivalry:

  1. Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches and shalt observe all its directions.
    Claiming no creed nor doctrine outside that practiced by the first century Christians, I believe in the Gospel and the epistles, with their “primitive” form of Christianity that can be seen from the examples as recorded in the books that have been passed to us as the New Testament. I strive to “speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent“.
  2. Thou shalt defend the Church.
    The church to which I belong (and by extension, the congregation I worship with) claims no central authority other than Christ, thus the simple naming convention of claiming to be His church in a particular locale. Since my faith is spiritual, my battle is likewise, though I may face adversaries on the physical plane. This doesn’t mean that one sits idly by to allow others to slander the Christian faith, but it also doesn’t necessitate physical violence against the offender. Paul details our weapons is :

    10
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. – Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV)

    These are the weapons with which I defend Christ’s church.

  3. Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
    I must be understanding of others’ shortcomings, as I hope they will be of mine. 
  4. Thou shalt love the country in which thou wast born.
    This one is not very difficult for me. I have served in my Nation’s military and I uphold the principles of its Constitution. No matter where I may find myself in life, I will always love my homeland, where the Lord has blessed me so richly. 
  5. Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.
    Looking back to verse 12 above, I see that my enemy is Satan. I must stand firm against him and those who serve him.
  6. Thou shalt make war against the infidel without cessation and without mercy.
    I see no call to a physical holy war in the teaching of Christ, though I find many examples of it in the conquest of Caanan in the Torah. YHWH commanded His people to commit violence against a people He had proscribed for their sins, and when the Israelites carried this out as commanded, they were blessed. When they showed mercy upon those to whom no mercy had been commanded, they were punished.

    Bearing in mind the historical context of the Crusades, I know where this command was directed, but there are may “infidels” that a Christian faces today. Given the spiritual nature of Christianity, this means, to me, in engaging in intellectual warfare against doctrines contrary to those I hold as matters of faith. Following the physical example from the Old Testament, I cannot show mercy to a doctrine that is not of the Lord.

  7. Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.
    My circumstances to not place me as a vassal with feudal duties, but as a free citizen, I have certain obligations I must meet. I registered for the draft at eighteen. I pay my taxes. I obey the laws passed by those elected to office. I do not pledge featly to a president, I uphold the portion of my oath of enlistment that still applies to me: that I affirmed “that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same… So help me God.” As long as my Country does not require me to do that which is against the will of the Lord, I will obey.
  8. Thou shalt never lie, and shalt remain faithful to thy pledged word.
    This one is simple to understand, yet so difficult sometimes to follow. We live in a time of low expectations, where one’s word often doesn’t mean a whole lot, and pages and pages of contracts have to be spelled out to do what a spoken word or handshake used to seal.
  9. Thou shalt be generous, and give largesse to everyone.
    This is one that I, and I suppose many in the western world struggle with. It is very easy to pass this responsibility off to the “government” since we are taxed to pay for social programs. The scriptures are clear that each of us has some responsibility to care for the less fortunate.
  10. Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.
    In our world of moral relativism, this one might be the most maligned. No good deed goes unpunished. One must reject this abomination. A Parable of Christ makes this clear:
    24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” – Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)
This is what the ten commandments of chivalry mean to me. It’s not holding doors for ladies, though if a lady is to be found, that would be in line with the type of kindness that a chivalrous gentleman would do. Bear in mind that a female is not always a lady, nor is a male always a gentleman. Those designations are earned and should not be flouted about willy-nilly based on some egalitarian claptrap that passes for civility nowadays. Chivalry is an honor code to be followed by those who act honorably, and extended to those worthy of honor.

Honor amongst adversaries

This is a great story of honor amongst adversaries:

Why A German Pilot Escorted An American Bomber To Safety During World War II:

I learned of the following article through a link posted on the Western PA Dieselpunks Facebook page. It’s an article posted at the web site Jalopnik.com titled, “Why A German Pilot Escorted An American Bomber To Safety During World War II” by Benjamin Preston.

As we begin 2013, let’s remember this story of universal brotherhood during this war that so defined the Diesel Era and the genre of Dieselpunk. May it serve as a beacon of hope for a peaceful new year. – Larry Amyett, Jr.

Once in a while, you hear an old war story that restores your faith in humanity. Usually it involves a moment of quiet in the midst of chaos; some singing or the sharing of a few condiments. But how many of them take place in mid air?

This is the remarkable story of a crippled American bomber spared by a German fighter pilot. After the two planes’ pilots had a mid-air moment of understanding, it didn’t seem likely that they’d ever see one another again. Only they did, and became closer than brothers.

Here’s how it all went down.

It was a few days before Christmas in 1943, and the Allied bombing campaign in Germany was going at full tilt. Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown was a freshly minted bomber pilot, and he and his crew were about to embark upon their first mission — to hit an aircraft factory in northern Germany.

Brown’s B-17F Flying Fortress, dubbed Ye Olde Pub, was typical of American heavy bombers of the time. Along with an 8,000-pound bomb capacity, the four-engine plane was armed with 11 machine guns and strategically placed armor plating. B-17s cruised at about 27,000 feet, but weren’t pressurized. At that altitude, the air is thin and cold — 60 degrees below zero. Pilots and crew relied upon an onboard oxygen system and really warm flight suits with heated shoes.

As Ye Old Pub approached Bremen, Germany, German anti-aircraft batteries opened up on the formation. Unfortunately for the pilots and crew of Ye Olde Pub, one of the anti-aircraft rounds exploded right in front of their plane, destroying the number two engine and damaging number four. Missing one engine and with another throttled back due to damage, Ye Olde Pub could no longer keep up with the formation.

B-17s were known for being able to soak up a lot of bullets and anti-aircraft flak and still make it home, but that came at a cost. The armor plating protecting crew and vital areas of the plane was heavy and affected cruise speed. Although armed with a number of heavy machine gun turrets, there were still areas of the aircraft that were vulnerable to attack by enemy fighter planes. The U.S. Army Air Corps addressed this problem by placing many planes in staggered formation that allowed bombs to be dropped while multiple planes could cover the defensive gaps of other planes in the formation with overlapping fields of fire.

The drawback to this arrangement was that individual planes couldn’t take evasive maneuvers (they’d risk damage from friendly bombs or machine gun fire), and stragglers were completely open to attack by enemy aircraft. Think about a small group of quick, agile cowboys chasing a herd of buffalo. They’re both dangerous to one another, but if one lumbering buffalo leaves the safety of the group, there’s not much hope for it.

Things went from bad to worse for Brown and his crew. Falling behind the formation, Ye Olde Pub weathered merciless attacks from 15 German fighters. The bomber’s machine guns got one of them, but the damage they sustained was immense. The tail gunner was killed and four were injured, including Brown, who caught a bullet fragment in his right shoulder. The only defensive guns left in service were the top turret and the nose gun, and the bomber’s hydraulics and oxygen systems had also been knocked out. The plane went into a spiral, plummeting earthward.

What happened next is according to the memory of Brown, who told interviewers years later that his mind was a bit hazy at the time; his shoulder was bleeding and he needed oxygen.

I either spiraled or spun and came out of the spin just above the ground. My only conscience memory was of dodging trees but I had nightmares for years and years about dodging buildings and then trees. I think the Germans thought that we had spun in and crashed.

Ye Olde Pub was spared further harassment by enemy fighters. Somehow, he and the co-pilot managed to get the plane flying level again at about 1,000 feet of elevation.

On the way out to the sea, Ye Olde Pub passed a German airfield. Lt. Franz Stigler, a Luftwaffe fighter pilot just in from shooting down two B-17s, saw Ye Olde Pub limp by. Naturally, he scrambled to give chase. But what he saw arrested any aggression he may have had. As he told interviewers in 1991, he was aghast at the amount of damage the bomber had sustained. Its nose cone was missing, it had several gaping holes in the fuselage. He could see crew members giving first aid to the wounded, and most of the plane’s guns hung limp, unmanned as they were.

I saw his gunner lying in the back profusely bleeding….. so, I couldn’t shoot. I tried to get him to land in Germany and he didn’t react at all. So, I figured, well, turn him to Sweden, because his airplane was so shot up; I never saw anything flying so shot up.

Stigler kept his distance, always staying out of the line of fire of the two guns still in service, but managed to fly within 20 feet of the bullet riddled B-17. He tried to contact Brown with hand signals. His message was simple: Land your plane in Germany and surrender or fly to Sweden. That heap will never make it back to England.

A bewildered Brown stared back through his side window, not believing what he was seeing. He had already counted himself as a casualty numerous times. But this strange German pilot kept gesturing at him. There was no way he was going to land the plane, but the pilot stayed with him, keeping other attackers off until they reached the North Sea. When it was clear that Brown wasn’t staying in Germany, Stigler saluted, peeled off, and flew out of Ye Olde Pub’s nightmarish day.

When Franz tried to get me to surrender, my mind just wouldn’t accept that. It wasn’t chivalry, it wasn’t bravery, it was probably stupidity. My mind just didn’t function in a clear manner. So his choice then was to kill us or try to get us to go to Sweden, since we wouldn’t land.

The bomber made it back to England, scarcely able to keep 250 feet between itself and the ground by the time it landed in a smoking pile of exhausted men and shredded aluminum. Years later, Brown would say that if Stigler had been able to talk to him, offering the land in Germany or fly to Sweden ultimatum, he probably would have gone to Sweden. But Ye Olde Pub did make it, and Brown got a much needed stiff drink handed to him when he got off the plane.

The incredulous debriefing officer, wowed by Brown’s story, went off to tell the brass what had happened. He recommended Brown’s crew for citation, but the glory was short-lived. Brass quickly decided that word getting out about a chivalrous German fighter pilot could endanger the lives of other crews if it caused them to let their guard down. All details of Ye Olde Pub’s first mission were classified Secret.

Stigler was never able to speak of his actions that day, as it would have meant certain court martial. He flew many more missions, though, becoming one of the world’s first fighter jet pilots. By the war’s end, he was one of only about 1,300 surviving Luftwaffe pilots. Some 28,000 had served.

After the war, Charlie Brown returned home to West Virginia and went to college, returning to the Air Force in 1949 and serving until 1965. Later, as a State Department Foreign Service Officer, he made numerous trips to Laos and Vietnam. But in 1972, he hung up his government service hat and moved to Miami to become an inventor.

Stigler finished the war amidst ruin. Anti-Third Reich post-war authorities in Germany were unimpressed with his exemplary service record, and the economy was wrecked. He subsisted on food stamps and work as a bricklayer’s helper for a while, but moved to Canada in 1953. There, he enjoyed success as a businessman.

Many years went by without either man ever thinking much about what had happened on that day in 1943. But in 1986, then retired Colonel Charlie Brown was asked to speak at a big combat pilot reunion event called Gathering of the Eagles. Someone asked him if he had any memorable missions during World War II. Brown thought a minute, then dredged up the story of Stigler’s salute which had been buried somewhere in the dirty corners of his mind for decades. Jaws dropped. Brown knew he would have to try to find the man who had spared his life.

After four years of searching vainly for U.S. and West German Air Force records that might shed some light on who the pilot was, Brown hadn’t come up with much. So he wrote a letter in a combat pilot association newsletter. A few months later, Brown received a letter from Canada. It was from Stigler. “I was the one,” it said. When they spoke on the phone, Stigler described his plane, the salute; everything Brown needed to hear to know it wasn’t a hoax.

From 1990 to 2008, Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler became like brothers. Introduced by the bond of that first powerful meeting, their friendship was cemented over the years. The two men remained close throughout the rest of their lives, dying within several months of each other in 2008.

There are so many parts of that beautiful story that could have turned out differently. In any event, Stigler probably wouldn’t have shot Brown’s crippled plane. He was a veteran pilot with an iron sense of right and wrong; a man who would never kick another while he’s down.

But what if Stigler had been executed for his disloyalty? What if Brown had landed in Germany or hadn’t made it across the North Sea? What if Stigler had stayed in Germany and never learned how to speak English? Yes, things could have been different, but that chance encounter in 1943 was destined to become a chance encounter again in 1990. But more importantly, it’s proof to the rest of us that something great done now can change your life much, much later.

Adam Makos just wrote a book about the Brown-Stigler rendezvous — A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story Of Combat And Chivalry In The War-Torn Skies Of World War II — which goes into much greater detail about the two men behind an amazing occurrence.

At moments in history we have seen this type of honor for ones enemy displayed. The accounts of Knights Templar and Saladin come to mind. The warrior ethos seems to have the ability to transcend cultural barriers. Christians are commanded to love their enemies:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV)

Along with:

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22 (ESV)

And:

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21 (ESV)