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The Fateful Night During WWII Cecil Wax Met God

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
October 11, 2022 3:01 am

The Fateful Night During WWII Cecil Wax Met God

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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October 11, 2022 3:01 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Marilyn Jensen tells the harrowing story of when her father went on a supply run amidst a German bombing.

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So, Ghosts, back with the new season Thursdays, 830, 730 Central on CBS. Tell everyone you know. And we continue with our American stories and not long ago we spent some time at our great flagship station WHO in Des Moines, Iowa, a giant stick in the middle of this great country, an I heart station. And we've been on that station for years and telling stories. We decided to have a storytelling contest and asked folks to send in their stories.

We drove up to Des Moines and, well, we did it in a beautiful restaurant with a few hundred people. And we feature right now one of the women who submitted her story to that event about her father, Thistle Wax, who had a surreal encounter during World War II. Here is Marilyn Jensen. My dad, Thistle Wax, was the family storyteller. He had an endless supply of stories about scratching life from the muddy hills of Southwest Iowa. He passed on to my brother, Bill, and me the wisdom and laughter that can improve almost any situation. He sprinkled humor like salt throughout his tales. Dad rummaged through his memory for any scrap of wit from his months of service in World War II. He tagged that bleak era as Uncle Sam's all expense paid trip to Europe. His blue eyes would twinkle and his dimples dance as he shared memories of times when he and his war brothers laughed together. Like the night a delayed fuse bomb went off. His buddy Hastings jumped into a ditch for protection and later discovered it was a trench left over from World War I, which the Germans had been using as a latrine. Dad would grin and say, talk about odor. We asked him to sleep alone in the truck cab for the rest of the night.

But this story lacks that dash of comedy. This is the account of how a scared farmer turned soldier conquered a dangerous mountain road at the height of one of the most decisive battles on the European continent. He referred to this as the night I found out there as a god. Clouds of dark memories would cover Dad's sparkling eyes.

He'd clear his throat, stare deeply into the past, and then begin. It was December of 1944. General George Patton's Third Army included a group of over 800 men called the 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion.

The 818th was engaged in the bloody siege called the Battle of the Bulge. Dad would shiver at the very mention of those chilling words. The scene of that epic bloodletting of the winter of 44 and 45 when temperatures plummeted as low as six below zero. That nightmare battle which splattered pristine white snowdrifts with the blood of over 19,000 American men.

He'd shake off darkness like a layer of snow from his shoulders and continue. All the tanks, trucks, and soldiers of the 818th were concealed in some mountain foothills in the dense forests of the Ardennes in Luxembourg. Cecil's job was to drive one of the many supply trucks providing rations for the hungry soldiers, gasoline for the thirsty tanks, and shells for their begging gun turrets. An officer approached Cecil late one afternoon. It was hard to tell what time it was.

The forest was thick and light seldom broke through the trees umbrellaed with snow. Cecil recalled, he ordered me to drive down the mountain with supplies for Company A. They needed gasoline and ammunition. I asked, when do we leave, sir? The commander looked me straight in the eye.

Immediately, soldier, you're going alone. Just your truck and a lieutenant. As the truck's cold engine ground to a start, Cecil sat out. The word alone was still blowing through his ears like the bitter wind swirling around the half-ton truck. No tanks rumbling ahead, breaking the path and chewing up the ice. Just one solitary truck feeling its way along, clinging to the side of the mountain. The heaterless cab was frigid.

Cecil drove down that winding mountain trail with the windows down, giving him at least a little visibility. The truck's cat-eyed blackout lights blinked helplessly against the swirling whiteness. The surface was so slick that if he even touched the brakes, the front wheels would slide. The truck groaned under the load of 90 cans of gasoline and many rounds of three-inch shells. It lost its footing a couple of times and skidded sideways, but saplings on either side of the road waved him back to the center.

Cecil knew that the men were depending on him, his army buddies. Suddenly, a loud shrill howling ripped open the deathly quiet of the forest. In another German assault, Cecil believed he was going to die. He was praying every slippery inch of the way, but as he said, nothing was happening.

On one dangerous hairpin curve, it happened. The heavily loaded truck skidded on a patch of black ice and slid out of control toward the void. Cecil believed then that he was about to die. The supply truck bearing two American soldiers was about to crash into oblivion.

Time seemed to flow in slow motion. He saw a vision of his mother Nora on her knees with her elbows sunk deeply into her patchwork quilt. Tears were flowing down her cheeks and her lips were moving in fervent prayer. As he struggled to bring the truck out of its skid, Cecil realized that his mother was praying for him. In terror, Cecil prayed, too.

Please help me. The boys need ammunition. The second he said that, something like a cool wind blew on the back of his neck. Through the blackness, he heard a voice, just like someone said it aloud.

Shut the switch off. Cecil didn't hesitate. He switched off the motor. The sudden change of momentum allowed him to guide the toboggan-like vehicle safely back onto the path. When he regained speech, he asked the young lieutenant, Did you hear that?

The scared officer just stared blankly ahead. Cecil continued with assurance. It was God. And suddenly there was the landmark. He'd been told Company A was concealed near a bomb hole on the road, just before a bridge. All ninety gas cans rattled as Cecil tiptoed the truck across that gaping hole.

An incoming flash revealed an arched stone bridge. They rolled across the bridge and pulled over. The expectant silence was shattered by the rumble of approaching vehicles. Cecil would say, I didn't know if they were Germans or what. He and the lieutenant breathed again, only when they could make out that it was American equipment carriers approaching.

Cecil heaved a sigh of relief when the precious cargo was safely unloaded. He overheard one grateful tank driver state that they had been down to nine shells. The lieutenant of Company A barked out, Get the hell out of here.

The Germans are everywhere. And bring some more ammunition. The trip back to the security of the base camp began. The tire tracks marking his recent arrival were quickly filling in with snow. But the truck gradually retraced the snake-like curves. Soon, weak lights from the rays of the dawning sun lit the rest of the journey.

In amazement, Cecil could see that what he thought were young saplings marking the edges of the trail, were, in actuality, the tops of tall pine trees rooted in deep valleys below. He thought to himself, there was somebody who drove that truck besides me. There's no way any human could drive a truck down this narrow, icy road in the dark. Cecil's life changed forever when the voice urged him to shut the switch off. He knew that God cared enough to guide him, one 28-year-old farmer from Iowa, down a frozen mountain road. He was just one of over 16 million Americans fighting for freedom. But God loved him and saved his life that night.

Cecil Wax lived the remainder of his 94 years, depending on the knowledge that no matter how impossible the path, he never traveled alone. And just a terrific piece of production by Robbie and a beautiful piece of writing by Marilyn Jensen. And this is why we love doing this show, folks, to let you tell the stories. And that night in Iowa, there were six remarkable storytellers, and your stories make Our American Stories the show it is.

The story of Cecil Wax, the story of courage, and the story of God, here on Our American Stories. Yes, and... Going snorkeling whenever I want. Yes, and... Moonlight dance parties. Yes, and... Loaded fajita nachos. Yes, and... All the daiquiris I can drink.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-19 16:04:04 / 2022-12-19 16:08:52 / 5

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