A PERSONAL NOTE
TO MY FRIENDS:
God has laid something on my mind and heart that I believe He
wants me to share with you. This has been a year or two in the making and now that God is leading, I must share
this with you for His glory.
If I could, I'd eliminate all personal pronouns, for I do not wish
to be arrogant, however I don't know how to eliminate them due the personal nature of this discourse, which is a cousin to,
what is known, as The Minor Key.
WHO IS C. DOUGLAS CAFFEY?
My life, physically, began on November 10,1926 in Grenada
County, State of
Mississippi. Spiritually, it began when, at age 13, I had an encounter
with the God of the universe. In a cow pasture, I walked out one day, looked up into the heavens and said to God. "God,
I think I'm missing something in my life which is of great importance. Would you show me what it is?"
God did show me in a very personal manner that I needed to be saved. After the preaching of an old minister's sermon from Isaiah, I surrendered to
the Lord Jesus Christ and was gloriously born again. Before my baptism I still remember saying; "Lord enable me to live in
such a manner that when you call, I'll be able to hear."
God guided my life in such a manner that , by His grace,
He protected me in very many ways. It was His doing, not mine, for the flesh wanted to do what most everybody was doing.
I attempted to tell my friends about Jesus and what He had done in my 13th year.
These personal pronouns just keep on appearing, but this
message is not about me; it is about God and what he has done and is still doing, in and through my life.
These days, of which we speak, were during the Depression of the late 30's
and all through the 40's.
I have already spoken about many of the times that God spared
my life, from swimming at the Deep Hole, to being thrown out of a moving truck on a gravel road, landing on my head, wrecking
a new Ford car when eleven years old, also on a gravel road . . . the car being totaled, thrown from a Farmall Tractor when
plowing a "new ground" as an under-ground stump caused the steel wheels, in front of the tractor do spin quickly, thus making
the steel steering wheel to break my right arm, and throwing me in front of a "Bush & Bog" disc with scalloped blades
two feet in diameter, and the tractor still moving. With the left arm I grabbed the 'draw bar' as the Farmall began
to circle in on itself. Those of you who have driven a steel-wheeled tractor, know of which I speak. The large
disc had almost gotten both legs but miraculously, I pulled my body back upon the 'draw bar' and was able to stop the moving
tractor. Can you imagine a worse death than to be cut to pieces by such a monstrous two-gang disc. I can't.
By the way,
I finished plowing that acre of 'new ground' before I took the tractor back
to the shed. We didn't go to the doctor back in those days. My dad put my arm in a sling until it healed.
These events occurred before graduation from high school.
What I am saying is that God saw me through the days of my youth keeping me from being killed, for I had many opportunities
to leave this planet.
This is about God and His dealing with me. It is not
about me. You see, I believed that The Lord God would take care of me, for I trusted Him.
There was no reason whatsoever, that the senior class elected
me as president, and voted 'most-likely to succeed'. No reason that I became the class Valedictorian. Not at all.
It was God's doing in preparing me for the future for His glory.
World War II began for the USA and, of course, all of the
boys after graduation wanted to fight for our country, including myself. My heart and mind were set on becoming a pilot
in the Army Air Corps, a fighter pilot, particularly in the P-51 Mustang. But how could I do that when I had no money
for the two years of college, which was required? I was just a poor country boy who had surrendered to Jesus for salvation.
I knew only one person in our vicinity who had a college education.
But God knows the end from the beginning, and so He allowed
me to learn that if I could meet the requirements, the Army Air Corps would send me to college, in uniform, with those brown
shoes, in the Army Specialized Training Program to get two years of college in just one year. Wouldn't you know, He
saw to it that I did indeed meet the requirements, for He already had made me Valedictorian of my senior class. That
was His doing, not mine.
So off to Davidson College with 215 other boys from the
South where we went through two years of college in one year; first Davidson College then North Georgia Military College.
At Davidson College, North Carolina, the "men" were separated
into three groups which were called N-10, N-20, and B-60. I was called in to the office of the B-60 Group, which Group
had the highest training, and were to be fighter pilots.
They said that my academic achievements were such that I qualified for the
B-60 Program, however, they noted that I did not have high school Chemistry and would have to be placed in the next lower
Group, N-20. In country schools during the Depression, there were "Physics Schools" and also "Chemistry Schools"; not
both due to costs. My high school was a "Physics School". My recourse to the folks at Davidson College was that I wanted
to be placed in the B-60 Group and would teach myself Chemistry. Their reply was that I'd be taking college Chemistry.
I told them to allow me to teach myself basic Chemistry and if I didn't make an "A" or "B" on the first unit test, then I'd
agree to go to the next lower Group. They agreed . . . do you believe that God can change the minds of college professors
in such matters? I did and I do! On the first unit exam I missed only one question and had an "A" , and that in
college Chemistry! God allowed that to happen. It was not my doing. Please see God's work here, not the
work of Doug Caffey. This writing is about God's doing, not mine!
When our training was over at Davidson and North Georgia
Colleges, Uncle Sam saw the War coming to an end in Germany and thereby "washed-out" our entire 216 men, before we received
Lieutenant's gold bars and Silver Wings of Greenhorn pilots. I was the first in my squadron to solo and get my shirt-tale
cut off and tacked to the bulletin board!. I learned to fly under the capable hands of a man, a civilian, who trained
many Army Air Corps Cadets. He was Kurt Wetzel, who had been Test Pilot for Piper Aircraft Company. He is the only man
I knew who could fly a J-3 Piper at hanger height up side down over the runway without losing a foot of altitude!
What a pilot he was. He was demanding in his teaching men to fly, but he was the best.
Now, that our pilot training was over, due to our being terminated ("washed
instead of Cadets, we were all PFC's with one stripe on our sleeves.
Instead of being saluted by PFC's we were the PFC's saluting green-horn second Lieutenants.
Now, how does one see the hand of God in such a humbling experience?
Let me now quote O. Hallerby.
"Every time Jesus sees that there is a possibility of giving us more than we
know how to ask, He does so, and in order to do so He often has to deal with us in ways which are past finding out."
If you haven't learned that, perhaps you will learn it before you are on 'the other side of the grass'. I pray so!
So, here we were with our ambitions left empty by the action
of the "powers that be in the Army Air Corps."
Each of us were sent to specialized military schools for
technical training still in the Army Air Corps of WWII. In my case I ended at Lowry Field, Denver, to learn all about
photography, in cluding being a Camera Tech, Lab Tech, and an Aerial Photographer. That's how I ended up in the 509th
Composite Bomb Group,
58th Wing, Air Photo Unit, 20th AF in the Pacific. I didn't see God's
hand in all this change until much later in life. God doesn't begin something in your life, then just turns you loose.
No, He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. I know that to be true. Remember this writing is about God,
and His doing, not that of a humble country boy known as C. Douglas Caffey.
Why did I become disabled in the Pacific? God knows and cares. His plan
never changes, though we may change.
Let me tell you of a change which I did not understand at
the time before going overseas. I had met a beautiful and precious girl from Clovis, NM, when I was stationed at Roswell
Army Air Base, Roswell, NM. She was the joy of my young life. We fell in love while going through Carlsbad Caverns,
Carlsbad, NM, with her mother present. We dated as often as we could and became engaged to marry after WWII. I will
not write her name so that she may be identified. I must say, at this point, that our love was not sexual, but the kind
of love that permeates the heart and soul. What a beautiful soul she was and my love for her was very real.
After going to the Pacific we wrote letters daily, though
some days I would not get a letter but might get several in one day. Those were the days when military men could send
letters just by writing the word "FREE" where the stamp used to be.
Time keeps on moving and it was in the Pacific that I heard
Chaplain Chester H. Pelt preach one Sunday on doing God's will. I remember very well the closing hymn, "Where He Leads
Me, I will Follow", and it was then and there that God called me into Christian service, and it was there that I surrendered
again to Him.
If you recall, it was right before my baptism that I prayed and asked God to
allow me to live in such a manner that when He called, I could hear His voice and do His bidding. It is a long, long
way from The Walnut Baptist Church in the Delta of Mississippi to Kwajalein Atoll in the deep blue Pacific, but to God it
is just the wink of an eye!
I wrote my fiancee that I had surrendered to The Lord to
serve him, perhaps as a pastor, or in whatever place He chose to put me. Her reply was that she'd have to think about
being a "preacher's wife". Our letters went back and forth for weeks and finally she told me that if I were going to
be a missionary or a preacher, she didn't think that she could be my wife.
Now that's where the "rubber meets the road" as we used
to say. What a test that was, yet I knew what my answer would be. I wrote and told her that if she had made up
her mind, that we should write one more letter, declaring our love, and agree to never write or call again. That's the
way we parted. Neither of us ever wrote again,
I see God's hand in that decision now and did even then.
She was not the wife God wanted me to have. I see that plainly now, for God gave me a wife whom I love dearly and who
is all the woman I ever wanted. Helen has given me two wonderful children and has been all that a wife can be. In October
we will have been married sixty years and we are still in love and best friends beside. Isn't God good? Neither of us
has never "known" another person and were married when she was 25 days away from her 20th birthday and I was 25 days and two
weeks away from my 24th birthday. I told her I was going to write a book, entitled, "I Married a Teenager."
Don't forget that this writing is about God, not C. Douglas Caffey. If I could,
I'd rid this treatise of all personal pronouns which refer to C. Douglas Caffey, but I am so bound to this earth by that gravity
which language and vocabulary requires those personal pronouns. It is about God and what He has done in and through
this life which belongs to Him.
I have told you of times in my youth when I could have lost
my life, but God
preserved me in spite of myself. There have been time as a young man that death
knocked on my door, as in your case as well.
I love flying a small plane, which I used to do. Of
course I know that I still can but being almost 84 years old with PTSD and other imperfections, no one in his right mind would
lease a plane to me. There have been some close calls, before we were married, when flying found me in trouble.
I have never been timid when it comes to physical challenges. I told you about flying a Piper Cub backwards in an e-mail
a few weeks ago, so we'll close that door for now. What I didn't tell you was about the day I wanted to give a thrill
to some folks picking cotton in the vicinity of Greenville, SC. I cut the engine, came over the trees pretending to
land in a corn field adjacent to where the cotton-pickers were. At cornstalk height I flew with the engine just idling,
it wan then that the trees ahead of me just seemed to be speeding towards me! Now, what to do? I realized that
I was about to get the "thrill" which could have easily turned into my death. Quick as a flash, I gave full throttle and held
her straight and level until I had maximum power, then pulled the stick back into my gut (as we used to say) until the plane
was just above the tree tops, and again attempted to fly straight and level, with the plane barely flying and mushing downward
into the tops of the trees. Did I get on my knees and pray.
"Lord, I pray that this hasn't happened"? Not so! I just prayed
as I fought with the plane to gain altitude, my prayer being "Lord, get me out of this mess and I'll never do it again."
Now, I'd bet that most of you reading this account have prayed that prayer yourself, maybe several times. If you haven't prayed
that prayer you may be a perfect Christian, or not a Christian at all! My only perfection is in Jesus Christ who saved
my poor soul as a poor country boy in Mississippi many years ago.
There are more flying accounts when death knocked on my
door, when the fault was not my own, but something wrong with the plane itself. Oh yes, I still remember that day when my
friend Ned Whelchel and I were flying in a small plane. It was his first flight. He never knew that the reason
we kept losing altitude was that the engine was malfunctioning. He never said a word about the pine trees getting closer
and closer to the aircraft, as I directed the plane back to a landing where I had leased the plane in a small town in Georgia.
He's gone now, and I never told him that we were in trouble. He stayed outside when I went in to pay for the plane lease.
It was then that the folks behind the counter heard that I almost had to ride the pine trees down with their plane.
"Don't dare lease this plane until you find the engine trouble", I said. Do you believe God can see that a believer
gets the plane back to the air-field without riding the pine trees down?
I believe that He can orchestrate that event, and I also believe that I could,
by His grace, ride the pine trees down without being killed. Life is about God and His orchestration in our lives, right?
Now, the days before us in our country are unknown by us,
but not by God. Whatever the days are before us, we need to know that God is still on the throne and that this world
is His. He will do what He has said. Our part is to trust Him and believe that He hasn't changed. Read Malachi
. . . "... I am God and I change not." He will renovate this old EARTH into a NEW Earth and it is here that believers
will dwell forever in a perfect environment with perfect bodies like unto His glorious body. I look forward to that
You will note that I use the term "God" frequently in this
discourse. We are to give God The Father the glory through His Only Begotten Son, who is Jesus Christ, as He gave The
Father all the glory Himself. Jesus is God in the flesh and without His shed blood, no man can see the Father.
He said, "I and the Father are One, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. The Holy Spirit is the other Self of
Jesus. We shall understand the Trinity when we are translated from this world into the world which is yet to come. That
world will be this present Earth that God will make anew. Jesus came to do the will of the Father, which He always did.
I thank God for His blessing of eternal life and for His promises which He will never retract. God is good! Always good!