The amazing story of a WWII veteran who joined in 1940 at age 14 because he was hungry

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When Joseph Johnson, age 14, fibbed about his age to enlist within the U.S. Military in 1940, he wasn’t interested by eternity.  

He merely envisioned consuming 3 times a day.  

After operating away from a troubled house, the Memphis youth insisted to a navy recruiter he was 18. The boy obtained misplaced within the shuffle. Quickly, he and a brand new band of enlistees had been loaded into the again of a truck, heading to Fort MacArthur, California, and a grown-up world Joe knew nothing about.  

Wanting again on these early years, Joe wrote, as recorded in my biography about him titled “A Vivid and Blinding Solar”: “I made my share of regrettable decisions. It took me some time to come back round, to sensible up. Each one in all us wants redemption.”   

Joe Johnson, age 14, summer time 1940, proper earlier than he lied about his age and joined the Military.

However in his youth, Joe wasn’t an individual of religion. His mother had despatched him to a Methodist Sunday college sometimes as a baby, however that was it. As a teenage soldier, Joe was despatched to the Philippines with the thirty first Infantry Division the place religion was the very last thing on his thoughts. After battle broke out, he served bravely on Bataan and Corregidor till Common Jonathan Wainwright’s give up of all allied forces within the Philippines, Could 6, 1942.  

Joe was taken prisoner by Imperial Japan and shuffled from one labor camp to a different. At a very brutal POW camp referred to as Nichols Area, Joe realized the laborious labor, beatings, tropical ailments, and hunger food plan had received; he would quickly die. Now 16, the boy had grown to over six toes tall, however weighed simply 109 kilos.  

Joe’s final hope for survival was to be despatched to a special labor camp with barely higher situations. So, he feigned madness at Nichols Area by operating towards a gaggle of guards whereas slicing his arms with a contraband sharpened spoon. The guards beat him savagely and positioned him in an eiso, a boxlike cage smaller than a coffin.  

For days, the boy was given no meals — and most critically, no water. Nobody Joe had ever identified had survived the eiso. Lastly, huddled within the cage, bare, bloodied, determined, and drifting out and in of consciousness, Joe prayed a easy prayer, “Lord, have mercy.” That evening a mysterious wind stirred up a cloud, and it started to rain. Joe drank the rainwater that seeped by way of the slats. Quickly, he was despatched to the higher POW camp. 

Veteran Joe Johnson died in 2017.

Veteran Joe Johnson died in 2017.

When World Warfare II ended, Joe got here house on a stretcher. He recovered from his bodily wounds, but suffered from extreme PTSD. Livid at his former captors, Joe struggled to carry a job and was divorced twice. In center age, his issues grew so acute that he checked himself right into a hospital’s psychological well being unit. The advisors inspired him to set down his hate.  

Joe, with attribute grittiness, described his expertise: “I used to be OK after that. These docs labored my mind over and straightened my butt out.”  

Years handed, and as an aged retiree, Joe was flipping by way of channels on TV and got here throughout the educating ministry of Atlanta pastor Dr. Charles Stanley. Joe wrote, “By no means been a lot for faith. Most of my life I searched and struggled.” However the preacher began making sense to Joe.  

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“Sensible fella,” Joe added. “Laid issues out plain and easy. He was saying how God can spare you from troubles, however God doesn’t at all times try this. Typically you undergo the valley of the shadow, but God walks with you. Solely God retains you going. Effectively, I knew heaps about that valley.”  

Joe was flipping by way of channels on TV and got here throughout the educating ministry of Atlanta pastor Dr. Charles Stanley. Joe wrote, “By no means been a lot for faith. Most of my life I searched and struggled.” However the preacher began making sense to Joe.  

Proper in his lounge, Joe bowed his head and made issues official. He selected to observe Jesus, believing the biblical fact that God saves folks and makes them new.  

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Joe wrote, “The grace of Christ is deep and extensive. After I prayed, I seemed again over my previous couple of years and observed a change had been occurring all alongside. Perhaps God had been working in my life, even when I didn’t realize it was Him at work.”  

Joe died in 2017 at age 91 and is buried at Arlington Nationwide Cemetery. Those that knew him finest mentioned his life had really modified. His outdated wounds had been gone. His new life had begun.  

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY MARCUS BROTHERTON

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