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Saved From Drowning
The USS Arizona and other battleships moored along “Battleship Row” were the primary targets of the first Japanese attack. Within ten minutes a bomb crashed ...

Saved from Drowning

The USS Arizona and other battleships moored along “Battleship Row” were the primary targets of the first Japanese attack. Within ten minutes a bomb crashed through the Arizona’s armored decks to ignite the magazine. The ship’s sides were ripped out and fire engulfed almost the entire ship. Within minutes the great vessel sank with a loss of thirteen hundred crewmen. Marine Cpl. E. C. Nightingale was preparing to abandon ship:

Charred bodies were everywhere. I made my way to the quay and started to remove my shoes when I suddenly found myself in the water. I think the concussion of a bomb threw me in. I started swimming for the pipe line which was about one hundred and fifty feet away. I was about half way when my strength gave out entirely. My clothes and shocked condition sapped my strength, and I was about to go under when Major Shapley started to swim by, and seeing my distress, grasped my shirt and told me to hang on to his shoulders while he swam in.

We were perhaps twenty-five feet from the pipeline when the major’s strength gave out and I saw he was floundering, so I loosened my grip on him and told him to make it alone. He stopped and grabbed me by the shirt and refused to let go. I would have drowned but for the Major. We finally reached the beach.

The major undoubtedly knew that continuing to help Nightingale might result in death for them both. He also knew that letting go of him would mean certain drowning for the corporal. Shapley considered the risk to his own life and counted the attempt worth the effort. How often are we faced with situations in which helping someone else poses a risk to ourselves, either in terms of physical health, monetary loss, social status, or reputation? And how often do we consider that risk worth it for the chance to aid someone else in need? (JG)

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

—John 15:13


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