On June 5th, 1944, high above a war raging in Europe, a paratrooper’s faith helped calm a 20-year-old soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division. The vibration of the military transport plane might have put George to sleep if not for the peril he was about to face. He was about to jump under cover of darkness into occupied France with fellow paratroopers from 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He closed his eyes and recalled a quote he memorized long ago:
Hard things are put in our way, not to stop us, but to call our courage and strength. . .
George took a deep breath and turned his thoughts to what he loved most: God and his family. He often wrote letters to his younger brothers encouraging them to act rightly and stay on the right track. George was carrying two weapons into the battle that night, one was a weapon of war, the other, of the spirit.
Tucked somewhere on his body was a small blue booklet. It was complied by his mother, Anne Archer Hogshead Tullidge, so that he might “receive an inspiration and help from. . .thoughts of great minds and souls of the past and present.” He called it the “little book.” She later titled it A Paratrooper’s Faith. It was Anne’s hope that “. . .in the lonely, anxious and trying experiences he was passing through, a few moments reading of these might give him hope and strength.”²
Author and fellow Army veteran Bill Cain describes the unit’s mission:
“Their D-Day objective was to secure the crossing over the Mederet River. During the jump, the unit missed the drop zone and was scattered for miles due to heavy German anti-aircraft fire and low clouds.”¹
After escaping enemy fire and landing miles off target, he attempted to remain calm.Priority number one: find out where I am. No–first, prayer:
I can do all things through Christ which stregtheneth me. . .
I can. . .
Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. . .
Be not afraid. I am not afraid.
He thought about what he wrote to his younger brothers, Tommy and Arch: a good belief in Christianity . . . gives a fellow something to grasp when the going gets tough, and it does at times. This was one of those times.
The next day, near Fiere, France, George’s unit came under heavy attack while attempting to hold a bridge outside of St. Mere Eglise. George had to make a decision. He closed his eyes again, and remembered:
It makes a difference to all eternity whether we do right or wrong today. . .
Without hesitation, George took control of a light machine gun and held off the enemy attack, eventually leading to the safe withdrawal of his unit. This paratrooper carried with him a secret weapon: a mother’s faith.
The little book his mother made gave him peace, hope, and a strength only possible with the promise of peace and justice in the presence of almighty God. George found that peace on June 8, 1944 after succumbing to a massive hip wound sustained two days earlier while defending the bridge. I wonder what George must have thought as he was transported to a hospital in Britain.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. . .
A Family of Heroes
George B. Tullidge III was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroism, but he wasn’t the only Tullidge to be recognized.
On July 24, 1989, Anne Archer was awarded the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service at the Pentagon by the Secretary of The Army, John O. Marsh, Jr., with the Citation:
“Mrs. Archer Tullidge is officially commended for her distinguished civilian service to the United States Army, to our veterans, and to the nation over the last 50 years. During World War II, on her own initiative and at her own personal expense, Mrs. Tullidge voluntarily duplicated and mailed to over 300,000 soldiers the booklet entitled, ‘A Paratrooper’s Faith.’ Her personal commitment and deep concern were appreciated by many returning soldiers who commented on the strength and courage they received from the booklet’s message. Mrs. Tullidge’s strong support and patriotism did not end with World War II as she continues to dedicate her life to volunteer services to The Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center. This unselfish devotion to our American soldiers, strong personal commitment, and selfless service to the United States Army stands as a worthy example for all Americans to emulate.”³
A Paratrooper’s Faith has been inspiring service members since 1944, and it continues to inspire today. If you like to see what other inspiring words are included in the legendary booklet, click here.
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¹ Bill Cain, “A Paratrooper’s Faith: My Connection to A Soldier’s (and Family’s) Sacrifice,” Bill Cain Online, July, 2008, http://billcainonline.com/?p=2937
² Charles Culbertson, “Staunton man’s death led to book to inspire thousands of soldiers,” Newsleader.com, October 29, 2011, http://www.newsleader.com/article/20111029/LIFESTYLE22/110290302/Staunton-man-s-death-led-book-inspire-thousands-soldiers
³ Dr. William Josephson, Anne Archer Tullidge Obituary, revised 31 January, 2010, http://www.eng.auburn.edu/~josepbe/ParatroopersFaith/AnneArcherTullidgeObituary.htm
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