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The men who followed Him were unique in their generation. They turned the world upside down because their hearts had been turned right side up. The world has never been the same. Billy Graham
After an accelerated wartime seven week Marine Boot Camp in early 1943, hundreds of us in our new green uniforms and our equipment packed in khaki-colored sea-bags were sent by ten-wheel trucks to Camp Elliott on the outskirts of San Diego for infantry training. Camp Pendleton had not opened yet. In other chapters I've told how after initial infantry training, we were "volunteered" alphabetically for tank school. I sometimes wonder what would have happened to me if my last name was Zaring! As new prospective tankers we were sent off to Jaques Farm, an old fruit orchard, for training. Never mind that some of us were well over six feet and could hardly squeeze into the 15-ton light tanks of that day.
We trained in light tanks and when we were shipped to Australia in mid-1943 we joined C Company 1st Tank Battalion in Ballarat, Australia. Those were also light tanks. In fact, they had to be started by placing a large cartridge in a cylinder and firing it to turn over the engine. The 1st Marine Division invaded Cape Gloucester, New Britain on 26 December 1943. Our C Company still had light tanks. A .50 caliber bullet could pierce the side armor. A & B Companies, however, had replaced their light tanks with M4A2, 33-ton (fully loaded) medium Shermans. After the Gloucester battle, my company's tanks were replaced with medium Shermans, so that for the battle of Peleliu, the entire 1st Tank Bn. was equipped with M4A2 with twin diesel engines. These steel monsters were awesome weapons on both Peleliu and Okinawa. Benis Frank describes the vital part tanks had in the battle of Okinawa: Ground assault operations . . . were the special province of the armored and infantry units. Concerning the armored support of his 6th Division Marines, General Shepherd wrote, "If any one supporting arm can be singled out as having contributed more than any others during the progress of the campaign, the tank would certainly be selected." In a battle lesson issued to his 32nd Army, Lt. General Ushijima supported this theme, stating that "The enemy's power lies in his tanks. It has become obvious that our general battle against the American forces is a battle against their tanks."
One of the keys to the effectiveness of both the Army and Marine Corps Sherman tanks was a little 6 x 8 inch black box called the Gyrostabilizer that was mounted alongside the .75 mm. Cannon and coaxial .30 caliber machine gun in the 15-ton Turret. The Gyrostabilizer was one of WWII's best-kept secrets. Our five-man crew had clear, urgent instructions that if we ever had to abandon tank, the Gyrostabilizer was the first and most important item to be destroyed. Also, the firing pin in the .75 mm cannon was to be removed and the back plates on all the machine guns were to be dismantled. There was a vital purpose to that little black box. As the tank was underway, often-times over extremely steep and rough terrain, the gyroscope inside the box, spinning in a vertical plane, kept the turret guns steady and level. No matter how much the tank bounced around, up and down, the gunner could stay on his target and fire on the move. The Gyrostabilizer gave us an unprecedented advantage in moving combat. Before its marvelous inception, tanks usually had to fully stop in order for the gunner to come on target. This made the tank a target itself. In my own life I need a Gyrostabilizer for the ups and downs of daily living. It seems there is much rough terrain, both small rocky bumps and great gullies. Right in my own home and family or with close loved ones and friends, I need steadiness.
Or in the course of my work there are plenty of rough spots and unexpected challenges. The loss of position, an incompatible boss or coworker puts my attitude to the test. The loss of my job. Or how about sickness, a serious illness or loss of a loved one? All of the above can be very rough terrain. What, or better yet, who gives you and me true stability? Jesus Christ is God's amazing Gyrostabilizer. He can and will keep us level and stable when we trust Him and cast upon Him all of our cares, anxieties and needs daily, for it deeply matters to Him about you and about me.
I will try to walk a blameless path, but how I need Your help, especially in my own home, where I long to act as I should. Romans 8.26,27,28
You, Lord, are the God of all circumstances, the ups and downs of daily living. Make Jesus Christ to be my Gyrostabilizer to keep me level and stable for Your glory. Amen.