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God holds Vietnam vet to his battlefield promise

by Daniel Carl

On a bloody day in 1968, Army Sgt. Gordon Helsel lay bleeding to death in a Vietcong jungle. But as it would turn out, God had other plans.

According to Helsel, God saved his life, and Helsel, now a Virginia legislator, wants to tell the world about what happened to him on that day in Vietnam.

Helsel writes his story in “The Day God Showed Up.”

“We were given the assignment to engage the North Vietnamese second infantry division,” Helsel said. “We were on a trail headed up the mountain. One of the guys I actually dedicated the book to, Art, was the point man [when] we walked into an ambush.

“Training tells you to hit the ground and look around to see where the fire is coming from,” Helsel continued. “The man right in front of me, who’s name was Mike, turned around and looked at me as if to say, ‘What do I do now?’

“Before I could say anything to him, he took a bullet to the back. He had only been in the country one month,” Helsel said. “His face went ashen, and I knew he was gone.”

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Helsel recalled his company commander began barking orders to vacate the area, but Helsel was wounded as he left the hillside.

“I was hit in the side and it didn’t seem to hurt, so I just kept moving. It didn’t bleed that much either,” Helsel said. “But then I was hit in the arm, and I remember that it hurt – a lot. And it began to bleed a lot.”

What follows is a harrowing account of one man’s struggle to survive in what some have called “hell on earth.” Yet it was in this hellish environment that God intervened, an encounter that both changed and saved his life. After he made it to the medivac helicopter, he remembers talking to God.

“I laid there and I said to God, ‘God, if You will get me out of this, I will do whatever You want me to,'” Helsel said. “Now I know a lot of people say things like that to God, but I remember that promise I made almost as clearly as on the day I made it.”

After returning from the battlefield, Helsel was awarded two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star. He then went on with his life, fathered two sons and built a successful business. His latest endeavor was to win a seat in the Virginia legislature.

Something important happened a few months ago, however, and Helsel told WND it came by the little voice on the inside.

“As I was sitting at the dining table over coffee with my wife, the words just came back to me,” Helsel says. “‘Do you remember what you promised me?’ the voice asked. ‘You said, ‘If You get me out of here, I will do whatever you want me to.’

“I have a study over my garage, and I went up there and sat down and just began to write,” Helsel continued. “Now, I’m not an author. I don’t spell well; I don’t punctuate well. But the words just came to me. I think God told me what to write.”

The result was “The Day God Showed Up,” Helsel’s first-person account of what happened that day. In it he details both the horrific experience of the ambush as well as the miraculous circumstances that saved his life. Helsel says he hopes the book does well.

“Some of the proceeds are going to go to some really worthy projects,” Helsel told WND. “I want to help the children’s hospital, the Wounded Warrior Project, that’s a really good cause.”

But Helsel says the book has also accomplished something else in his life.

“The book has helped me to reconnect with the families of some of the people I served with,” Helsel said. “I’ve been able to reconnect with some people I never thought I would see again.

“Mike didn’t make it out of there, and Art didn’t make it,” Helsel continued. “We had to leave them on the hillside. We all got out of there, but it was a couple of days before we were able to go back and recover the bodies of my friends Art and Mike. Yet this book has helped me to reconnect with Art and Mike’s families.

“I consulted with them (the family members of some of those who were killed) because I didn’t want to bring back any memories to them that would hurt their families in any way,” Helsel said. “They were delighted that I was going to dedicate the book to those two guys.”

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