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Medal of Honor recipients credit Jesus Christ in ‘Valor’ documentary

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Mitchell Paige was a sergeant in charge of a platoon of machine gunners on Guadalcanal during World War II. There was little opposition as they stormed the beaches, but only days later Paige and the 32 men in his platoon faced an enemy attack led by Japanese troops numbering almost 3,000. When the fighting ended, Paige was the only one in his platoon still standing.
He had continued the barrage even as each soldier around him fell. A soldier found him the next morning with a small Bible open to Proverbs 3:5, remembering his mother’s guidance of six years earlier: “Son, all I want you to do is trust in God. Don’t try to figure everything out and God will show you the way.”
Paige is one of about a dozen Medal of Honor recipients profiled in a new documentary produced by the broadcast communications group of the North American Mission Board. Titled “Valor,” the program will be available for broadcast on local ABC network affiliates beginning Oct. 17. ABC stations that choose to air the program have until mid-December to do so.
“I know that the Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award that can be bestowed on any American fighting man,” Paige says in the documentary. “But the greatest honor of all is to know in your heart that you have talked to God and asked God to take over the throne of your life. And that’s what I’ve done.”
The television special is one of two produced each year by NAMB for broadcast by network affiliates of ABC and NBC, which determine whether to air them and when. Recent such efforts have included this summer’s “Hoop Heroes” profiling Christians in the National Basketball Association, last year’s “Driving Force” on Christian NASCAR drivers and the Billy Graham biography “Common Ground.” Each has sought to reach people with the gospel through personal testimonies of respected individuals.
Producer Bernie Hargis said he developed the idea for highlighting the faith of war heroes because of the popularity of movies like “Saving Private Ryan” and Tom Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation.”
“If you’re looking for heroes, you won’t find better ones than the men who have received the Medal of Honor,” he said, noting that the timing also seemed right. “The ones from World War II are into their 80s now, so we felt we shouldn’t delay.”
The special opens with Walter Ehlers — the only living Medal of Honor winner from the D-Day invasion — walking along the beach in Normandy where he had fought so many years earlier.
His act of heroism began 23 miles inland, when after eliminating a German patrol he scattered an enemy mortar section, destroyed two machine gun nests and later provided cover for his troops to withdraw. He also carried a wounded member of his squad to safety after being shot in the side himself, and chose to continue to lead his squad rather than be evacuated for treatment.
Similar stories are repeated throughout the special, ending with each acknowledging the profound role their faith had played — either during their war experiences or because of them.
“They all describe themselves as ordinary soldiers, sailors, pilots or whatever, who had one moment in which they were called upon to do something extraordinary,” Hargis said. “And they attribute that of course to God and to their faith in Christ.
“… It reminded me of the story of Gideon, who was just an ordinary man. But the Lord made him into a great and mighty warrior.”
Another common theme, he said, was prayer in the midst of battle, as well as the realization that they very likely would not survive.
“All of them I would say thought they would die, but they went ahead and did it, he said.
(For information on broadcast dates and times or to request favorable scheduling, contact your local ABC station.)

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  • James Dotson