Letters from Ex-servicemen

Army life, I can say, that too was good for me, because it was my Covenant God’s will that I should be there and He strengthened me through it all.

Clarence Van Essen


Dear Editor:

I received a letter from my pastor, Rev. S. Cammenga of our Second Church, requesting me to write a letter concerning my attitude as a returned serviceman.

Well to begin with, I have found readjustment to civilian life very easy.  Ten days after my return home in March of this year, I began a job as a general clerk in the office of Grand Rapids Fiber Cord Co.  However, the fourteenth of this month I will begin a new job as full-time bookkeeper for Western Lumber and Hardware which is located just two blocks from my home.  This type of work is what I really want to do.  Next fall I plan to enter a course in accounting at Davenport Institute Night School.

Since returning home I have realized more than ever what my Church and the Protestant Reformed faith means to me and I think that any of our fellows who were in the service, both during the war and those who are still serving in our peacetime Navy and Army will agree that this world is a very sinful one.  You realize this more than ever when you have been away from your home, church and friends.

In August of this year I will have the honor of attending our Young People’s Convention, as a delegate from our church.  About the only thing I can add to this letter is that I am truly glad to be home and each day I pray that neither myself nor anyone else will soon have to leave home to fight another war.

John H. Wiltjer—Grand Rapids, Michigan


Dear Editor:

It’s been over two years since I have been discharged from the armed services and it’s kind of difficult to write something on readjustment in civilian life.  I will do the best I can with it.

My first readjustment was getting back to civilian life, in civilian clothes and above all to my own church and the truth.  I got married the latter part of 47 and that was another thing I had hoped to do.

When I came home things seemed so different, it was hard at first, I’ll admit that.  I know I wasn’t the only one to have these difficulties but at times I felt I was one of the lost sheep, but I finally was found again.  I am thankful to be away from all the confusion, noise and dodging of all kinds of ammunition.  I am also thankful that the Lord has spared my life and led me home safely to my loved ones.

George Engelsma—Grand Rapids, Michigan—June 6, 1948


Dear Editor:

I was inducted into the U. S. Marine Corps the 23rd of July, 1945 and discharged the 25th of August 1945.

Most of this time I was stationed on the east coast or aboard ship in the Caribbean Sea.  Being a machine gunner in the First Special Marine Brigade.

You have probably heard the phrase “The Pride of the Marines.”  Marine pride is really an awful thing in this world.  I pity those who have pride in such a corrupt thing.  Maybe first I should state why they are proud; surely not because they have never lost a battle, that would be untrue.  It is because they are rough and tough.  There are many drunkards.  They can swear harder, and fight among each other more than in any other branch of the service.

What I disliked most of service life was being mislead, or going along with the crowd in their sinful ways.  This was my worst temptation and many of the ex-service men I have talked to have told me the same.  Here in civilian life you can have church services and fellowship with those who are like-minded and who have the same world-and-life view as you do.  This is a pleasure and I am very grateful for this.  I am now engaged in farming.  Then a person realizes how free he is in religious and home life, and how much more he dislikes life in the service.  If this much talked about Universal Military Training is passed as a law in this country, and the young boys are called from out of our churches, then we must remember they leave their home environment and come in contact with the men of this world.  We must pray; pray that their faith may be strong to fight those awful temptations.  Life in the service is not good and wholesome for spiritual well being.  My choice would never be a military career.

Gysbert Van Weelden—Pella, Iowa


Dear Editor:

I am a disabled veteran of the last war.  Upon returning from service I found it hard to do work of the same nature as prior to my army duty.  I was then given a job here at Orange City as manager of the Legion Bowling Alleys because of my disabilities.

This work I find of strictly recreational nature.  As a Christian, I see many things that are not good.  We see the many pleasure-bent people active in sports, but never mindful of church activities.  Also there are church-goers who have little time for church activities, but they have plenty of time for bowling.  Also there are those who bowl because it is a clean healthy pastime and who bowl only when it does not interfere with church activity and who wish to spend an hour at some recreation.  I do find this interesting work.  It makes one ever alert as a Christian to see how it interferes with ones church and family life.  I am sure today in this world that we are more easily led to sport and recreation than we are to the things of God and His Kingdom.  The lusts of the world soon become the big things, and the things of God which are good for us soon become secondary.  I find it hard to seek out the right and that which is best for me, and am very thankful for the grace of God through the Holy Spirit that we may learn to see the right and shun the wrong and let others know if we see them leave the good things to enjoy these sports.

The readjustment from military life to that of a civilian often receives much attention.  That to our government leaders was a big thing.  They saw men returning from life in service, of abnormal conditions, to settling down in a home and to a job.  As a Christian it was my desire to again be with my family to serve God in the surroundings of the Protestant Reformed way of life.  Surely God was our protector while away, but there were some things we missed.  The chaplains would preach to us the free offerings of salvation in their modern way, and we missed the true word of God that gave strength to meet all things as they would arise.

To us as Christian soldiers the war was a revelation of the corruption of this world, the greediness of nations to attain power.  As Christians we went as a duty to our country and again we returned not mostly concerned about jobs and homes for we knew that whether we are weak or strong God supplies these things to us as He is our constant provider.

We still go to Him to ask for guidance.  We are now not fighting a battle of guns, but the battle of faith and He will yet “our burdens bear, our sorrows share” and give us all things necessary.

Art. P. Wassenaar—Orange City, Iowa


We have the names and addresses of the following three servicemen:


Lawrence Hager, F2-c

U.S.S. O’Hare, DD 889

c/o F.P.O New York, N.Y.


Pvt. William Van Sprange

A.S.N. 46066719

Co. A. 3rd Eng. Combat Bn. A.P.O. 24

c/o P.M. San Francisco, Calif.


Pvt. F. C. Arthur Bykerk

  1. S. Co. 340th Eng. Bn. APO 901

c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, Calif.


Unless we hear either from our servicemen or from their families, we have no way of knowing whether these addresses have been changed or whether these servicemen have been discharged.  So if you fellows haven’t been receiving your Beacon Lights, send us your address.  Keep in contact with your church, also through your young people’s magazine.