"The Living Proof"-a real story
The following is an actual account, a true story of one Marine's
experience in Vietnam. It has been published in a book called "Living
Proof", and made into a movie called, "Clebe McClary:Portrait of An
Perhaps you will enjoy, as many thousands of others have, reading
this true story of how a young Marine lieutenant with 12 others were
overrun by over 150 North Vietnamese soldiers, ran out of ammo, fought
hand to hand for their lives, and how the story ends. Here it is:
"If there was a perfect place for a boy to grow up, I guess my
childhood home would have been one. A 10, 000 acre plantation near
Georgetown, SC, gave me plenty of opportunities to hunt and fish and
just enjoy nature.
My folks were strict, but loving. They made sure that I went to
Sunday school. My father, a 6-foot, 210 Scotch-Irishman, would say,
"Clebe, go to church." And that's exactly what I did. Throughout my
youth I was faithful and active in my church. Yet, I never met Christ
or surrendered my life to Him.
After college I taught in high school for three years and coached
championship teams. During this time I met and married my wife Deanna.
She was a beauty queen in South Carolina and her outward beauty was
surpassed by her inward grace and gentleness.
At the same time, Vietnam was putting our country in a great deal of
turmoil. I felt it was my responsibility to do what I could, so I
enlisted in the Marine Corps. Following training in Quantico, VA, I
got my orders to go to Vietnam.
As a lieutenant I often led reconnaissance, or "recon" patrols.
Recon patrols were conducted deep in enemy territory to report on their
activity. Each of these missions was a dangerous endeavor, but not
until the 19th, and longest patrol, had I faced death so certainly.
Leading a patrol of 13 men, we went into a valley where very few of
our troops had been. We stopped for the night on the top of a hill.
Three men dug a foxhole to my right; my doc and radio man were in a
foxhole to my left. I got into a punji pit and eight men around the
edges of a large bomb crater about 50 meters behind me. About midnight
I thought I heard some enemy movement.
Climbing out of the punji pit to see if the men on my right had
heard the same noise, a grenade exploded hitting me in the neck and
As I grabbed the radio and started calling for air support and
artillery, a sapper unit, better known as a suicide squad, of about ten
of the enemy started running up the hill. With grenades tied around
their waists and grenades in each hand, they were literally coming up
the hill exploding, killing themselves trying to kill us.
One of them stood right above me. I shot him with my 12-gauge
shotgun and he fell into the pit with me. His satchel charge exploded
blowing both of us out of the hole.
As I was going through the air all I could think of was, "Man,
where's my shotgun?" As I reached back for it, I realized my left arm
had been blown off by the blast. I looked to my feet; my radio man and
my doc were dead or unconscious. Then I heard the three men on the
right cry out and discovered that a grenade had gone into their
A black Marine, PFC Ralph Johnson smothered it with his body and
gave his life to save the other two Marines with him. He was later
posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for
heroism. I started crawling toward them and before I got there another
grenade came in. As I threw up my right hand, the explosion blew out
my left eye and many of my teeth on that side. A good bit of the use of
my right hand was gone.
Things were looking tough and I thought my only chance was to get
back to the bomb crater where the eight men were fighting. I tried
running, but a couple of grenades knocked me down.
I lay there for what seemed like hours. I had never wanted to live
so badly in all of my life. If I could only see my wife one more time
... she and I were supposed to have met in Hawaii next week. But lying
there I doubted that I would ever see Deanna again.
Later I heard some movement in the bushes behind me. One of the
enemy came up and shot me in the right arm. Another stuck a North
Vietnamese flag up about 15 feet from my head. I thought it was all
over. Then I heard a voice call, "Lieutenant! Lieutenant!" It was an
18 year old Marine from Alaska, Rod Hunter. He crouched down by my
feet and picked enemy off just as they were coming up the hill. At the
same time, Corporal Lucas, who had already won a Silver Star in
Vietnam, crawled out of the bomb crater and also was returning fire. I
told him to take over.
"Try to get helicopters to come after us." He radioed for choppers
but they said they couldn't come until daylight (it was 2:45 AM). I
told him, "Tell them to forget it. We won't be here at daylight. We're
out of grenades and throwing rocks."
He relayed this to the chopper pilots and instead of waiting, they
came right then. It was just 3:00 AM when they put my two dead men,
the four wounded, and me on the first bird. As it lifted, the second
helicopter landed. The last seven men dropped their packs, weapons -
everything - and jumped on. As it lifted off the ground about 150 or
more of the enemy swarmed over the top of the hill. In a few more
minutes, not one of us would have gotten off that hill alive.
We were flown to the hospital at Danang, then on to Japan for more
surgery and then to Bethesda, MD. Here Deanna joined me in my
recuperation. Her love and encouragement gave me strength to rebuild my
life. After further operations, endless physical therapy sessions and
overwhelming pain and anxiety, I finally was strong enough to go home
to South Carolina. Though I still claimed my religion, I did not claim
One night I read in the paper that Bobby Richardson, a former New
York Yankee, and Vonda Kay VanDyke, a former Miss America, were going
to be at a special rally at the football stadium. I told Deanna that I
sure would like to see Bobby Richardson and added, "Any Marine would
like to see Miss America. Let's go." And we went.
Bobby and Vonda Kay gave brief testimonies followed by a message by
Billy Zeoli of Gospel Films. He preached a sermon I will never forget.
He said there are two kinds of fools in this world: a fool for Christ
and a fool for others. I knew right then what kind of fool I had been
all my life. I had gone to Sunday school and church only because that
was what my mother and father wanted me to do. I didn't drink or
smoke. I had a lot of religion but still needed a Savior.
There at the stadium that night I realized that I had just been
fooling myself. I had never Personally received Jesus Christ as my
Savior. Yet the Bible says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works lest
any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8, 9). So that night I dropped all
pretense and opened my heart to Jesus Christ in simple faith."
How about you? On what do you base your hope of heaven - good works?
Church attendance? Doing the best you can? Perhaps you have been
making the same mistake that I made for so long. Listen to what God
has said in His Word:
1. GOD LOVES YOU AND HAS A WONDERFUL PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE. "For God
so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" - John
3:16. And John 10:10, "I came that they might have life and have it
2. YOU ARE A SINNER, AND YOUR SIN HAS SEPARATED YOU FROM GOD. "For
all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"-Romans 3:23.
Romans 3:10, "There is none righteous, no not one." And Isaiah 59:2,
"Your iniquities have separated you from God; your sins have hidden
His face from you."
3. JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR ALL SINNERS, AND HE IS GOD'S ONLY
PROVISION FOR SIN. "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"-Romans 5:8. And John
14:6, "Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth and the life; no man
cometh to the Father but by Me."
4. YOU MUST INDIVIDUALLY RECEIVE JESUS CHRIST AS SAVIOR AND LORD,
PUTTING YOUR TRUST IN HIM; THEN YOU CAN KNOW AND EXPERIENCE GOD'S LOVE
AND PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE. "But as many as received Him, to them gave He
the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His
Name"-John 1:12. It is by faith alone - see Ephesians 2:8, 9 above.
This is called the "new birth", in John 3:1-18. If you trust in
anything but Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection, then
you have no chance for heaven.
Jesus Christ died for you; He paid your debt of sin; he offers
eternal life to you and now He wants to come into your heart.
Revelation 3:20 says, "Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man
hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him."
Will you, right now, let Jesus Christ come into your heart and take
control of your life? If so, pray this prayer or something like it
(the attitude of your heart is far more important than the words you
say): "Lord Jesus, I know You love me because You died on the cross for
my sins. I confess I am a sinner and cannot save myself. Thank You,
Lord, for paying my debt of sin so that I may have eternal life. I do
now, by faith, trust you Lord Jesus, and receive You as my Savior and
Lord. Please come into my heart and take control of my life. By
faith, I thank You for doing so. In Jesus Name, amen."
Does that prayer or something like it express the desire of your
heart? If it does, pray it now and Christ will come into your life, as
Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self (repentance) and
trusting Christ to come into our lives, to forgive our sins, and make
us the kind of people He wants us to be. Just to agree in your mind
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for
our sins is not enough. Nor is it enough to have an emotional
experience. We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of the will.
If you have made this decision, may I ask you to contact me for
further information? I'll be glad to send you additional free
materials to help you grow in your Christian life.
Clebe McClary Servicemen's Christian Center John T. Sargent,
Director P.O. Box 10413 Alexandria, VA 22310 (703) 971-0242
A ministry of Missions to Military, an independent Baptist mission
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