"Chappie Walker's Miracle"
After one week wherein the worn-out Angels only had one meal to eat, the men of HQ3-511 found themselves exhausted having just survived two days and nights of vicious banzai attacks outside Mahonag. Weakened from a lack of food and sleep, PFC Robert LeRoy, the former cowboy, tried to climb out of his foxhole on December 18 but felt an invisible hand push him back down. Robert fainted and when he came to, it occurred to him that he had only eaten a small handful of rice in the past seven days.
Since the 511th PIR, and the 11th Airborne as a whole, had headed up into the mountains during monsoon season, aerial resupply was impossible as the heights were completely covered in thick rainclouds. As such, the young Angels endured several periods where food, ammunition and medicine were in scarce supply.
Over five thousand miles away, Germany readied its last major offensive of the war. As the hungry Angels’ endured Leyte’s brutal trials, their brothers in the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were about to face the equally brutal Battle of the Bulge.
Crawling under his raincoat, the hungry and weak PFC LeRoy prayed, “Please Dear God, give us all more strength to help us win this war for thee, and for our country, that someday we may once again worship you in peace and happiness.”
Several miles away, division commander GEN Joseph M. Swing noticed that Chaplain Lee Walker was going to parachute jump out of a Piper Cub to visit PFC Leroy and his weary comrades on the front. Knowing of just how fierce the fighting was up in the hills, Swing told Walker, "The Chaplain doesn’t have to go there."
Thinking of the boys battling up in the mountains, Walker replied, "That’s where the Chaplain is needed." He then loaded into a Piper Cub for his static line jump.
Once on the ground, "Chappie" found HQ3 and invited PFC LeRoy and HQ3-511 to join him for a service at noon. After sharing encouraging selections from the Bible, Walker declared, "Now men, we are ready to ask for supernatural help from God. Let us all pray."
With helmets and rifles in hand, the battle-tested paratroopers all meekly knelt in the same mud they had slept, fought, bled, and buried friends in as Chappie prayed on their behalf. His words of faith and humble pleadings warmed their hearts and renewed their spirits. Indeed, after the foxhole church service, PFC LeRoy returned to his place on the line, feeling fortified in spirit, even if his body was slowly wasting away from starvation.
As he sat in the mud, looking up towards the overcast heavens for a moment of quiet meditation, Robert was startled when the never-ending rain clouds slowly began to part to reveal a beautiful blue tropical horizon. Chaplain Walker had hardly packed his things when the hungry men of HQ3 began cheering when a single C-47 transport flew overhead to drop badly needed supplies and rations.
In the eyes of PFC LeRoy and HQ3, God had heard the Angels’ prayers and many in the 511th PIR agreed that "Chappie Walker’s Miracle" met all the requirements for sainthood.
No wonder decades after the war, the men of the 511th PIR graciously voted Dr. Lee Walker "Trooper of the Decade."
One week after "Chappie Walker's Miracle", when the battered but victorious paratroopers came down from the heights on Christmas day of 1944, carrying their wounded, the grateful Angels sang praises to their God:
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem
O come and behold Him, born the King of Angels
When my grandfather, 1LT Andrew Carrico, was asked about these experiences with Heaven's grace years later, he grew misty eyed and said softly, "I remember."