Why Men Fight?
While some would argue that it is not the interest of society, or even selfish interest, that makes men fight, for "dead men (can) have no interests." And I'm sure that over time the reasons change and that in present tense for us all the reasons are most normally blurred.
Still, a fighting man requires a belief in something greater than himself to muster the physical and moral courage to accomplish the extraordinary in battle. For most that something bigger was their team, their country, and their way of life.
Men derive a sense of responsibility from the situation in which they act and live. This "sense of responsibility", based on an understanding of why the struggle is essential, is the touchstone that makes the fighting man's struggle more than a matter of duty. It is important that men believe in the principles they are defending and understand the enemy as a threat to those principles.
Individualism will most likely remain the hallmark of America and her military. There will always be those that give fully of themselves, subordinating personal gratification to lofty ideals. They are heroes. Men that put a premium on understanding the "whys" of their fight, and then strive to accomplish the mission.
A strong sense of duty punctuated by a consistent example of honor that cultivated an atmosphere of mutually supported individual effort rooted in righteous and democratic beliefs. What other reasons can there be to lead him from small town Missouri to the skies over Germany of World War II.
Another Missourian, Mark Twain, once said: Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catchphrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let man label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country - hold up your head! You have nothing to be ashamed of.
At the end of the war we didn't think there were any fighter planes in the air. On April 7, 1945, while flying formation, a German fighter, black lacquered and shiny, came up under my wing and collided with the lead plane carrying my own bombardier, Fred, and my group commander, Col. Herboth. All in the plane were killed. My crew and I were flying less than ten yards away when the collision occurred. We were torn up, and crash landed.
Except for the grace of God and a few feet, Harding College would not have the esteemed services of Hillard Johnmeyer as a member of the Board of Trustees. Johnmeyer is a successful businessman ... operating a construction company which lays underground telephone cable; an experienced airplane pilot ... flying missions in two wars, in coordination with his business, and for pleasure; a dedicated member of the Church of Christ ... serving as a personal worker in evangelistic campaigns in the United States and abroad.
A staunch supporter of conservative Christian education, he regularly attends Harding's workshops and seminars on personal evangelism. Having received the needed training, he and his wife leave their business for a month each year, raise their own support, and participate in an evangelistic campaign in the United States or abroad. Besides scheduling each day's work in advance and making out reports each evening as group leader, he walks the streets, knocks on doors and conducts Bible studies to save souls during the day. His natural concern for others makes him effective in personal evangelism.
Johnmeyer was born in a rural community in Cooper County, Missouri. The family remained there only a few years before moving to Howard County where Johnmeyer attended school. Commenting on those early years in school, he recalls, "I quit school in the eighth grade and ran away from home. Later, my brother, Julius, put me through high school. I helped pay part of the expenses by driving a milk truck."
On December 14, 1942 he enlisted in the Army and, following intensive training in flight school, flew B-24 missions during World War II. He was recalled to active service during the Korean War and flew missions there. He attended the University of Missouri at Columbia for one year between the two wars, majoring in engineering.
Immediately following the Korean War he established a business in St. Clair, Missouri. Vividly recalling its establishment, Johnmeyer said, "I hired one man, rented a pickup truck and an air compressor, and began setting poles in solid rock. No other company wanted to do this work even though it paid more, so I started my business with those jobs. My contact with the telephone company came from a local telephone man who was a customer years ago when my brother and I cut brush for a living, getting $.50 a span, and it took one man a whole day to cut a span."
In 1965 Johnmeyer moved his business to Rolla, Missouri. Operating from an office on the Rolla airport, he scans the jobs listed in certain, trade magazines, flies his own plane to inspect certain ones, and then bids on them. "I bid on jobs all over the United States," he said, "but generally within a 600 mile radius of Rolla."
Reflecting upon his years of campaigning - conducting Bible studies and teaching others of Christ, he recalled his own conversion and that of his wife while studying with an Air Force associate, Gale Cummings, and his wife, 'T'. "While we were overseas, separated from our wives, Gale taught me the scriptures," said Johnmeyer, "and his wife befriended my wife and taught her." In 1952, while stationed at Davis Monthan A.F.B. in Tucson, Arizona, they both were baptized at the Country Club Road Church of Christ.
Of his service during World War II, Johnmeyer said, "At the end of the war I was in London flying sight-seeing missions for the 'ground-pounders' over battle torn areas. I saw America double-crossed by communist Russia. After the war, I watched the United Nations being built and saw socialism on the rise. As time went on, I knew I wanted to do something about it."
It was this deep sense of loyalty that led in the search for a conservative educational institution to an eventual meeting with Dr. Ganus and Dr. Bales, and his association with Harding College and the National Education Program. Greatly impressed with the campus and the friendliness of the students the awareness of the administration and faculty and their meaningful programs, Johnmeyer said, "Harding knows what's going on in the world."
Since that time, believing what he found still to be true, he has been an enthusiastic supporter and energetic worker for Harding College. He serves as a member of the Board of Trustees and faithfully executes his responsibilities in this capacity. He regularly attends the Bible Lectureships each fall, the Christian Workers' Workshops and the World Evangelism Seminars each summer, and encourages others to do the same. Of Harding's Mission/Prepare Program, Johnmeyer says, "The increase of personal evangelism both at home and abroad is one of the most encouraging signs in the church today, and Harding is contributing in a significant way to this increase through its Mission/Prepare Program."
Activism is not just a word with Johnmeyer; it is a way of life. He is endowed with a keen sense of loyalty to God, the church and his country. He is a participator, encourager and supporter of those things in which he believes. It is not uncommon to see the Johnmeyers on the Harding campus on any weekend. Although recovering from a broken back suffered in a recent jeep accident while [deer] hunting, his first trip from home during convalescence was to Harding to acquaint some friends with the school. Ten days later, he attended the Preacher's Forum, bringing with him other friends interested in visiting the campus and learning more about the school's programs. Not only do they come to see their son, 'H,' a junior at Harding, but they are enthusiastic with Harding's programs and eager to acquaint others with these programs.
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