The Last Chopper Out
Memorial Day / Noah & the Flood / End Times
Genesis 7:11-16; Hebrews 11:7
This weekend we are celebrating Memorial Day. This is a very special day for Americans, especially for those who either served in the military, or know of someone who did, or does. I want to share with you a story about Vietnam—the war I was in. I call it, The Last Chopper Out. The one major image that we in Vietnam had, was of choppers, or helicopters. Vietnam was the first war which used the chopper a lot, carrying troops in and out of battle, evacuating the wounded, evacuating troops and civilians in overrun areas where the enemy was closing in. The chopper was used for anything and everything. Up until I was 57 years old, I would still fly in choppers to emergency hot-spots…but, I don’t like them. They shake, they rattle, they sometimes quit flying and drop to the ground. I can remember flying in one in Vietnam, and bolts falling out of the roof on me. Let’s just say that I felt a lot safer on the ground.
I wanted to live, and, staying out of a chopper (as much as possible), seemed to me the better choice. But, if I had to die, I knew I wanted to go to heaven. I think most people want to go to heaven—not hell. I wonder, how many people actually take any time to prepare to meet God? The military is all about being prepared—prepared to fight evil, the aggressor, those who would harm us. There is a funny little story about being prepared, which occurred after WWII ended. It occurred at the Rose Parade, in California. Standard Oil (Chevron Gas), had entered a float into the parade, and, of all companies, this is the last company you’d expect to run out of gas— right in the middle of the parade, out of gas. We are called to be prepared. My family has always felt the need to step forward and defend the nation. My grandfather was in WWI, in the infantry, in France. My father was in WWII, in Alaska (along with my mother), building the Al-Can Highway, to keep the Japanese from attacking from the north (the Japanese landed in Alaska, and had set up a front there for over a year). My brother, Steve, and I were both in Vietnam. He was in the Navy, and I was in the Air Force, although I didn’t fly. I repaired ground-to-air radios to keep ‘em flying. My son, Mike, was in the Army when the first Gulf War occurred.
You don’t just become a military person. You must train, learn, get prepared, and, you must do all this ahead of time. Be prepared physically—for desert or snow, for insects and snakes, to be able to live in the mud for days. Be prepared mentally—not to break down, to help others survive, to stay alert with no sleep. Be prepared spiritually—to see your brothers and sisters die, or die yourself. Out of my high school graduating class, six died in Vietnam—guys I had cut up with, tooled town with, run track and field with, and I even went to church with a couple of them. We all want to go to heaven.
Let’s read Genesis 7:11-16.
The Vietnam War ended in 1975, some 20 years after the United States military first entered that country. North Vietnam was communist, and South Vietnam was trying to stay separate from the north, and become a democracy. The country was split—kind of like our civil war here in the United States. The United States was trying to help the people in the south to stay independent, and China and Russia were aiding the people in North Vietnam to take control of the south, to make them Communist. Thousands of troops had died in combat, and the United States Congress decided that this war was too costly, and we were going to withdraw. But, we had a problem. The enemy knew we were slowly getting ready to withdraw (they watched TV and saw the American public’s desire to quit). So, they really began to push hard to take over. Our forces (the United States and our allies, the South Vietnamese Army), were retreating toward the capitol of South Vietnam, Saigon. The American embassy, and the ambassador from the United States, were located in Saigon, as well as our military headquarters. Saigon was the U.S. base of operations. Thousands of new Communist troops were coming from the north every day in that last year we were there. Not only were there thousands of U.S. troops based in the country of Vietnam (and all these troops were pulling back into the city of Saigon), but there were also thousands of U.S. family members, and thousands of South Vietnamese families which were loyal to their country in the south, and loyal allies to the United States. They would be killed, if captured by the Communists.
So, we had to devise a plan to withdraw thousands of people from the country. We had to devise a “top secret” plan, so no one would know the exact day that Americans would totally leave the country. If we announced to the world the exact day and hour we would pull out, then the enemy would know how vulnerable we would be on that day, and how to hit us. We had to devise a secret plan, and a code phrase, to let people know the exact day of the evacuation, the last day. So, the day and hour were kept secret. In fact, no one was even allowed to pack up their things ahead of time, because that might send a signal to the enemy that we were leaving. The United States ambassador commanded that no packing was allowed.
Thousands of people were fleeing into Saigon, in April of 1975. They were fleeing the enemy, which was advancing faster than expected. The U.S. military and the South Vietnamese military were forced to fall back much faster than planned, and the capitol city of Saigon was quickly filling with thousands of people. The United States had identified a minimum of 25,000 people that we were responsible for—25,000 people that we needed to get out of Vietnam, who would be executed, if captured—6,000 of these were direct American family members, including women and children.
The secret plan was that these 25,000 people were to listen to the U.S. radio station. And, when the last day arrived, the radio station would play a certain tune on the radio to let these thousands know to immediately go to their point of departure, so they all could get out alive. It was April. The tune the radio station would play was “White Christmas,” by Bing Crosby. “White Christmas” would signify that you were to drop everything, and go immediately to the American sector to get transportation out. No time to pack—just be ready and go. That was the plan, to move 25,000 people out in one day, the last day.
Unfortunately, the enemy was closing in so fast, that there was not enough time for things to work out as planned. Only those who actually had their radios on, and heard the tune, had time to get to the American sector. Only those who were prepared and listening, were able to get there on time. There was no time to go spread the word to others. No time to pack anything. In fact, those who took time to pack didn’t make it. And, those not listening were also too late.
Because the enemy had closed in faster than anticipated, there were no fleet of ships available to transport the 25,000 people out—much less others. The ships that were there, could not all dock at the last minute to get people on board. Only small boats could get in and out quickly. There were no flights of airplanes available to transport all the people, because the airport had been overrun by enemy troops. In fact, the last two deaths of American marines were on that day, the last day, at the airport.
As for the 25,000 people we were directly responsible for getting out alive (as they began arriving at the American command center), choppers began landing on the roof of the command center and taking as many as they could out to sea to waiting ships. At the docks, there were a few boats (not ships – boats), and as they got overloaded, they began limping out to sea, looking for any big ships out at sea somewhere, anywhere, to take the people on board. Women on the docks, who were left behind as the boats began to depart, started tossing their babies to the boats. Many babies fell into the sea. Many drowned that last day.
Back at the American compound where the choppers were still landing and taking off of the roof, many would jump to grab the helicopter landing skids. They tried to hang on. Most could not. Many fell to their deaths that last day. Thousands crammed the U. S. post. And, as the choppers were so full, many tried to bribe the soldiers with gold and jewels to take their children first. But, even gold and jewels could not save them. Some families were separated. Some families never made it at all.
Then it happened—THE LAST CHOPPER OUT. The last chopper closed its door, and lifted off. Of the minimum number of 25,000 the United States was responsible to get out (6,000 of which were direct U. S. military family members), 480 American family members were left behind—they were executed. Most of the other 20,000 of the U.S. support people who were to be evacuated, were also left behind. Their outcome is unknown to this day, but most are presumed executed. Over 100,000 of the soldiers of South Vietnam, who were our allies (who were also left behind), were either executed, or spent up to 15 years in prison labor camps, right into the 1990’s. Most died in these labor camps. They all wanted to go to America. Most weren’t listening, and missed the call, and were too late.
In today’s text, Genesis 7:11-16, Moses relays to us the story of Noah. This story of Noah is similar to this experience of America in Vietnam, and both stories give us a preview of the end times. A story of the “Last Day.” Let’s discuss this story of Noah and see how it is reflected in our experience in Vietnam, and how it applies to the end times just around the corner.
Genesis 6:5: Mankind had arrived at a point where evil had consumed almost every individual. God’s plan was to provide the Savior (Jesus) as a flesh human being to pay for the sins of God’s creation which had turned away from Him to Satan. Satan’s plan was to prevent a Savior (a flesh human being), from ever coming into existence. Satan sent angels to earth to destroy the human gene pool, and instead make the human race a hybrid race, to prevent any Savior ever being born to true human beings (Gen. 6:1-5). So much evil existed at that time, that God (in order to save us…in order to provide actual humans for Jesus to be born from), had to destroy it all. Some people believe that there were millions of people who were drowned in that flood. And, because of this belief that God destroyed humans that He made (including babies and old people), many believe that the God of the Old Testament was a vicious blood thirsty being—not a loving God, and further, that abortion (killing babies), and euthanasia (killing of old people and sick people by suicide), must be ok too. And, for this reason, many people have rejected God, and accept abortion and euthanasia.
In Vietnam, the enemy was overwhelming the population, and we had to develop a plan to leave—to save those who supported America. America could have destroyed the nation of Vietnam, but chose to just leave instead.
Today, evil is spreading all across the globe, and every individual must decide if they have a plan for their life, both in this world, and in the next. God has warned us that an end is coming. Actually, each of us are in our own end of days—either by natural causes, or by the return of Jesus (Rev. 19).
Genesis 6:6-7: The Bible tells us that God was grieved that He had to do this (“repented” or “sorry” actually means “regretted”). If God was grieved (regretted), that He had to destroy all this life, then why did He have to do it? God had to destroy the “mankind” (Gen. 6:7), because the human population had actually become a “hybrid mankind”—genetically altered. Satan had an evil plan to destroy God’s plan—to prevent any Savior being born to a human being. God’s plan was to save people with the birth of Jesus through humans. This could not be accomplished through some genetically altered beings which Satan had managed to produce.
Because of Noah’s flood, many believe that God just kills people arbitrarily. This deception (that God kills people arbitrarily), is right out of Satan’s play book. Satan has deceived us into thinking that God had real people destroyed in the flood (people like the human generations we see today—the generations from Noah). The human populations before the flood had been genetically altered (giants—Nephilim), no longer actually human (see the book “The Flat Earth & Genesis” – Target Truth Ministries.com).
As God was grieved that He had to destroy the evil mankind on earth at the time of Noah, so also was America grieved that it had to leave Vietnam. However, the enemy had overwhelmed the population, and we either had to destroy the population with a nuclear bomb, or just leave. America chose to leave the final judgment to God, and just left. In the case of Noah’s time, God used the bomb (the flood), and had Noah leave, but this was because God’s plan was still to provide the Savior (Jesus). Without Jesus we would all be doomed to hell (separation from God). So, God had to completely destroy the evil, whereas America’s plan in Vietnam was to regroup, and hopefully deal with relations with Vietnam later, and leave the final judgment up to God.
Today, as we approach the end-of-days, we need to recognize that God will completely eliminate all those who do not love Him. God is patient with us, but God is also a just God who will judge those who deny Him. We have been warned…many times…and yet the world around us is ignoring God.
Genesis 6:8-10: Only Noah was “perfect” in his generations (bloodline—Gen. 6:9). Noah’s bloodline was perfect, not corrupted by Satan (Gen. 6:9—the King James says “perfect in his generations” and the NAS says blameless in his time—the Hebrew is “without blemish in his bloodline”).
In our day, only those who trust in Jesus (those “Born Again” – John 3:1-7), those who love God, will be recognized and saved (Matt. 7:21-23).
Genesis 6:11-22: Noah followed the instruction God gave him. And, because Noah followed God’s specific instructions, he and his family were saved, while others who ignored God perished (2 Pet. 2:4-5).
America, likewise, had to devise a plan to leave Vietnam, so as to save as many as possible. In Vietnam, those who were alert and aware of the plan of salvation (Bing Crosby’s White Christmas), were ready and prepared.
Today, God’s words and warnings are everywhere, and yet people are ignoring God. For Noah, salvation was in the Ark. For us today, our salvation is in the only One who has power over death—Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
Genesis 7:1-5: Noah obeyed God…followed God’s instructions exactly, and they lived. Those who denied God perished in the flood. Likewise, those who followed the instructions in Vietnam lived. Those who were not focused, or delayed and didn’t take the warnings seriously, were left behind to perish. Many in the world today hear the warnings to repent (change direction), and follow Jesus (Rom. 12:2), but continue to ignore the truth (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
Christians know the end is coming. Either through our own personal death someday (as some of my high school friends who died in Vietnam), or by the return of Jesus before we die—the last day is coming. When that day comes, just like when the song “White Christmas” was played in Vietnam, we must already be ready. There is no time to dust off the ol’ Bible, and start reading. There will be no time to call the pastor. No time to call your relative or friend. As Jesus tells us, we are either ready or not. But, as we read in Matt. 7:21-23 …..well, just read it!
Jesus invites all into His kingdom, but the door will close. Just as it did at the time of Noah and the ark. Moses recorded this story of the flood given by God. Why? Because God loves us, and He wants none to perish. Is everyone ready? Are we tuned into God’s Word? When the call is made to demonstrate our love for our country, and defend our nation, many step forward. As a Christian soldier, we are to be prepared to share God’s Word with a lost world in chaos. The call has been made for all who love God to step forward as Christian soldiers. Soldiers, dedicated to spreading God’s Word, in a battle with a lost world—God’s Word, the sword of victory, as described in Ephesians 6. Even when Christians are rejected, and ridiculed, and spat upon (just as we Vietnam soldiers were when we returned to America), we, as Christian soldiers, still must march in unity for the Word of God—the Truth. Jesus lives today, and His kingdom awaits the arrival of all those who trust in Him, and love Him. I pray that none will miss the last chopper out. I can hear the storm approaching—can you?!
Let’s read Romans 13:11-12.