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- Story Listed as: Fiction For Adults
- Theme: Inspirational stories
- Subject: History / Historical
- Published: 06/05/2013
Salvation In A Dive BomberBorn 1931, M, from Hendersonville/NC, United States
Salvation In A Dive Bomber
The Battle Of Midway World War II
Why You Have Freedom Today
Although this is a fictionalized story, the Battle Of Midway was the turning point in the Pacific war with Japan.
In the high seas, there is the slightest rocking of the huge Navy Carrier. Lt. Cmdr. John W. Steel had been on board a month, but until three days ago it was all about training his 11 Dauntless dive bomber pilots and their rear gunners. They needed all the repetition they could get, to hone their flying and gunnery skills. In their piston engine airplanes, just landing on a carrier took a lot out of a man, especially the first time he tried it. From 1000 feet the carrier’s deck looked like a postage stamp rather than something you’d try to land a big airplane on. The faint of heart, he thought, would never succeed in this job.
As the big ship glides through choppy seas, Lt. Cmdr. Steel knows it is headed toward an unknown fate. In the next few days everything could disappear, including the ship he is sitting in right now. For that matter, he could disappear.
It is now June 3, 1942, and a little less than seven months have passed since the December 7th 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A major sea battle will begin tomorrow. One he knows might well determine the outcome of the entire pacific war.
John W. is apprehensive. More than that, he is down right scared, but he can’t show it. In the presence of his men, he’s got to seem confident. He’s got to give the impression that all will go well tomorrow.
He has good reason to be scared. From the spotter plane reports, the Japanese have four heavy carries to the US’s three, and one of them, the Yorktown, is still badly damaged, from the last sea battle. The Hornet, his carrier, and the Enterprise, along with the Yorktown, must now face a far superior foe. It’s all about who will control Midway.
He sees the irony, in such a huge sea battle, being fought over such a tiny island the size of Midway. It’s the midway airfield that’s the real prize. If the Japanese gain control of the island and the airfield, they will control most of the Pacific, and with that control, the pacific war would most likely be lost.
When he thinks about flying off the carrier’s deck, into the unknown, his whole body begins to tremble. He’s glad to be alone in his tiny stateroom.
Lt. Cmdr. Steel has decided to have a private meeting with his eleven pilots, before bedtime. He wants to give them confidence for tomorrow’s battle, but deep inside he wants to look at each man’s face. It’s almost certain that some will be missing, at their next meeting, providing there is a next meeting.
As the men assemble, he sees his pilots trying very hard not to show fear, but as the meeting progresses he sees some are fidgeting. They are anything but calm. All know that some in their little group will likely not return following tomorrow morning’s battle.
After going over the flight plan, the men are dismissed and he tells them to get a good nights rest. He almost laughs inside. In his small group, he knows, little sleep will be had this night.
His tiny bunk beckons, and Lt. Cmdr. Steel knows he must get as much sleep as he possibly can. After tossing and turning, for what seems hours, sleep finally comes, and dreams invade his slumber. He sees Louise, his wife, at home playing with their small son, John Jr. A smile crosses his slumbering face till a loud bell goes off in his ear and he knows it’s 0600. Time to roll out, have breakfast, get in his flight suite, and man his Dauntless dive bomber.
Below decks, where the plans are stored, He climbs onto the wing and into the cockpit of his Dive Bomber. His plane along with 5 others is carefully positioned on the elevator that will take them to the top. Lt. Cmdr. Steel flips the switch that will start the huge engine. The propeller barely turns, but, when the gas vapor in the big cylinders ignites, the engine turns the large prop at an ever-increasing speed. As the elevator rises slowly to its upper destination, he gets his first glimpse of the early morning sky. The sun is low on the horizon, and with his sliding plexus glass canopy in the open safety position, he can feel the damp sea air on his face.
The flight deck seems to be in great confusion, and Lt. Cmdr. Steel knows it can be a very dangerous place. One dropped bomb, or wrongly placed whirling propeller blade, could cause a fiery inferno. That inferno would not only destroy the 24 pilots and planes on deck, but also kill most of the men working there. He also knows the flight deck crew are some of the most highly trained sailors in the Navy. Their job is to launch the planes and do it without error. Almost always they do a superb job. So far this morning all is going well.
He watches as planes ahead of his are launched into the damp air. It’s now his turn to fly off the deck and lead his 11 Dauntlessness into the great battle that lies hundreds of miles away.
Keeping the plane’s brakes on Lt. Cmdr. Steel applies full power to the big engine. With the throttle all the way forward, the plane is shaking, as if it can’t wait to be released.
He looks out the side of his open cockpit and sees the deck launch commander signal with his flag that his plane is ready for launch. Seconds later, with a wave of the flag forward, he releases the brakes, and his Dauntless Dive-Bomber jumps forward.
As it rolls toward the end of the deck, Lt. Cmdr. Steel has the fear that all Navy pilots have on a carrier launch. He hopes his plane has enough air speed at the deck’s end to keep him from plunging into the choppy sea. He’s seen two planes go into the drink, and one of the pilots slipped beneath the waves along with his plane.
Just before his plane reaches the deck’s end he looks at his air speed indicator and sees he’s ok, but as the wheels leave the carrier’s deck, he can’t help but wonder if he will ever see that deck again.
As he banks to the right, an even more sobering thought comes to him. Will he ever see his wife and child again?
He must put all these negative thoughts out of his head. He’s got to concentrate on getting his 11 planes in formation, and pointing them in the direction of a spot in the vast ocean. The spot is where the enemy fleet should be, provided they haven’t changed direction during the night. He hopes, with all his being, that the spot is where it ought to be.
There is nothing to do now but fly the hour and a half leg to the target.
An hour and 27 minutes pass, and he knows he should be seeing the enemy fleet soon. Minuets go by and still no enemy. His fuel gage tells him he’s got to see them soon. Each passing minute brings a terrible decision closer and closer. One he desperately doesn’t want to make. If his group doesn’t see the enemy ships very soon, he’ll have to abort the mission, and return to the carrier. The American’s can’t afford to lose 12 precious pilots and planes to the sea. Being out numbered, the fleet needs every pilot and plane they can lay their hands on.
As his plane slices through the heavy air, minutes seem like hours. The terrible decision is almost upon him. More minutes pass and he finally picks up his mike to give the abort order. He takes one last look down. Just before a cloud blocks his view something catches his eye. He flies on and looking through a very small break in the cotton ball clouds, Lt. Cmdr. Steel sees what he thinks is the wake of a large ship. His heart beat quickens... Sure enough, at the next break, there below, he sees dozens of ship wakes, and there, surrounded by many smaller ships, is the object he is looking for.
His sole mission is to destroy the Japanese heavy carriers. Like his own, they are the most valuable ships in the fleet, and they must be destroyed. Now Lt. Cmdr. Steel has spotted one, and he must quickly plan the best way to attack it.
Not wanting to use his radio, and give their position away, he hand signals his planes to follow him, for a closer look. He picks a huge cloud to fly through on his way down, hoping the enemy won’t see him until it’s too late. He knows there is little chance of that happening, but he needs every second of invisibility he can get.
As his plane emerges out of the cloud’s bottom, it seems the enemy has been waiting for him. Black puffs of smoke appear all around his plane. There’s a close one just off to the right. His plane vibrates violently. He hears pieces of the explosion tear into his Dauntless. He wonders why he is still flying. Holding tightly to the control stick Lt. Cmdr. Steel manages to keep his Dauntless level.
He looks off to the left and sees Sam’s plane is on fire, and missing most of its leftwing. It's in a steep spiral dive now. He watches for a parachute, but there is none. As his heart sinks, he watches Sam’s Dauntless plunge into the dark blue Pacific.
Invisibility gone, he reaches for his mike, but hears no radio hiss when he presses the mike button. He knows it's been hit, and put out of commission. With no radio, he must again use hand signals to get his small group to form up and follow him down. As he rolls his Dauntless dive bomber over on its left wing, another explosion below sends metal fragments through both wings of his plane.
He continues his screaming dive pointing his plane directly at the big carrier he spotted just a minute ago. Lt. Cmdr. Steel fleetingly wonders if the wings of his plane will come off when he pulls out of his steep dive. He can’t worry about that now. He has to concentrate on pulling the bomb lever at just the right time. Putting the 500 Lb. bomb on the deck of the big ship seems to be the most important thing he will ever do. In fact he is so intent on his purpose that he puts aside his own safety. To him, at this instant, it’s much more important the bomb be put on the carrier’s deck than he save his own life.
To his surprise, the enemy carrier deck is full of planes, being loaded with bombs. They have caught their enemy when he is most vulnerable. Bombs and planes exposed on deck. One direct hit among the planes, and the whole deck becomes a series of explosions. A blazing inferno would follow, destroying everything on deck, and the deck itself. The carrier would become useless, and the extensive damage could well cause it to sink.
The black puffs are getting dense now. Every possible enemy gun in the Japanese Fleet is pointed at his 11 planes, and he knows he needs to get the attack over quickly before they get the range and he loses more planes. Another shell explodes very close to his plane, sending pieces of hot metal tearing even more holes in his wings. He continues his dive.
When the big carrier looks like it is going to come up and hit his plane, he releases his 500 pound bomb, and pulls back on his stick, expecting the worst. He is sure that his wings will come off, and he'll plunge into the black Pacific– never to be seen again. To his utter amazement his weakened wings hold. He brings his Dauntless out of its dive, and into a steep climb.
The pilot behind him screams over the radio that Lt. Cmdr. Steel’s bomb has exploded among the on deck enemy planes. Another pilot further back hollers he sees bomb explosions everywhere and many Japanese planes on fire.
Lt. Cmdr. Steel is astounded that he can hear these communications. Suddenly, for no explainable reason, his radio is working again. Looking at his wings, he can see many jagged holes. One or two are big enough to drop a mop bucket through. He wonders!! 'Why am I still flying??'
Their 11-plane attack lasted less than a minute, and among them they can account for at least four hits. The whole deck of the big carrier is now a series of explosions and a blazing inferno. New explosions below deck cause the big ship to be covered in a shroud of black smoke.
As Lt. Cmdr. Steel leads his small group of planes back home, he sees only seven planes. Three more are lost.
Because the big carrier was in the center of the enemy fleet, for protection from submarines, his small group of planes is far from leaving the lethal black puffs of smoke behind. His tiny squadron seems to creep over one enemy ship after another, and each one is blasting away, at them, with every gun it has.
Yet another shell explodes, to the left, very near his dauntless, and more holes appear in his wings. He fully expects his left wing to shear off in the next few minutes. 'So little of it is left.' 'It’s got to go soon.' He has to adjust the stick to the right just to keep his plane level.
They finally clear the last enemy ship, and Lt. Cmdr. Steel has a chance to inspect his plane even more closely. Both wings are badly damaged, but the left is in terrible shape. He is sure it won’t last the long flight home. In fact he is amazed it is still attached to the fuselage.
He presses the button on his mike and asks for a damage assessment from his remaining planes. All have damage, but they seem strong enough to make it back to the carrier. He starts to tell them of his own problems, but stops short. Something in the back of his mind tells him not to. Somewhere in the distant past he has heard someone say, “be careful what comes out of your mouth. It may well come true.”
He feels wetness in the left leg of his flight suit. Looking down at his leg confirms the worst. The left leg natural gray of his flight suit is now crimson with his own blood. Even if his Dauntless could miraculously make it back to the Hornet, will he?
Again he reaches for his mike, to tell the others of his dire problems, and again he stops short. Lt. Cmdr. Steel now remembers where he heard “be careful what comes out of your mouth.” Many years ago, in his hometown church, he heard his pastor say “the mouth has the power of life as well as the power of death. Therefore be careful what comes out of your mouth. Negative thoughts expressed out loud may well cause you great harm.”
He flies on, expecting the worst at any second. The wind whistles through the holes in the side of his cockpit. He knows the loss of blood will, at some point, cause him to black out, and when that happens he’s finished. He feels terribly down. Smitty, his rear gunner, is alive, but unconscious from his wounds. When he goes into the drink, it is not only the end of him, but Smitty as well.
He begins to lose his sense of time. Looking at his watch, he wonders 'how long has it been since they left the field of battle.' He tries to concentrate, but his mind won’t function. He must still be flying. He can feel the wind through the holes in the cockpit. 'Is the left wing still there?' Through blurred vision, he looks to his left. 'Yes, the left wing is still there.' 'How can that be?' 'It should have come off long ago.' He wonders. 'Am I flying level, or am I in a dive– headed towards the Pacific.' He can’t use the horizon any more, to keep his plane level. He can’t see it. He looks at his instrument panel for guidance, but he can’t see it either. His mind goes blank.
Lt. Cmdr. Steel slumps forward, sending his Dauntless into a death dive towards a watery grave. In his blackness, light comes and a deep voice says "Wake up." The dauntless continues its dive. More intense light, and the deep voice, louder now, shouts "wake up."
Suddenly Lt. Cmdr. John W. Steel is wide-awake. He is in a dive. The water is headed straight for him. He pulls back on the stick and the pacific slides under his vision. Coming out of the dive, his plane shakes violently. 'There goes the left wing.' He knows it’s gone. 'It has to be gone.' He looks to his left. To his utter amazement it’s still there. 'How can that be? That wing should have come off long ago. Now he’s just pulled out of a critical deep dive.' He thought his whole plane was going to come apart, but a look to the left tells him the wing is still there. 'Why is it still there? Why is that left wing still there? For that matter why is he awake? Stranger still he’s not only awake he’s alert.'
'Something strange is happening here. Something is interceding on his behalf. What power could possibly make things not happen that should happen?'
He remembers the light and the deep voice shouting at him to ''wake up!!''
'Who in the world could that be?'
He knows it’s not one of his fellow pilots. 'There was no static and besides, he would have recognized the voice. This voice was very clear, as if the person speaking were only a few inches from his ear. In fact he’s now sure it came from inside his head.'
'Is he hallucinating? Is it all a dream? Will he wake up and find himself in the water? Drowning? But, everything seems to be working.' The almost deafening noise is still there. Out in front, the big prop is still spinning. The Pacific is very close under him, but some how he is not in it. Through the static, he can hear the voices of his men cheering him on. He looks up, and sees the other planes in his group. 'It can’t be a dream. Everything is still here. The noise, the sky, the planes, and the ocean are all still there.' His senses give him every detail of his surroundings. 'He’s still flying. He’s still heading home, and the left wing is still there.'
'So where did that wonderful resonate deep voice come from?'
'If it came from somewhere inside his head, who put it there? Who has the power to put voices inside your head. Lucifer? God? He can’t see any reason why Lucifer would want to save him. He’s not in the saving business. If it's not the Devil, it has to be God. As opposed to the Devil, God is in the saving business. If it’s God, what’s his reason? Only one thing comes to mind.'
'God must want him to live!! Ho no, not that.' Lt. Cmdr.. Steel has been pushing God away for years. He’d always believed there was a God, but he didn’t want anything to do with him. Because, his Mother always pushed him to be saved, he came to resent her efforts. Besides he could never live up to the Ten Commandments, what little he knew of them. It was all too much trouble. He’d just go his way and let God go his way.
'But now something was intruding on his life, and it must be God!!'
'Somehow God wants him to live!! Some how God has a reason for him to be alive!! Why!!' From nowhere, a thought comes to him. 'He can hear Rev. Gallaway, his old minister, speaking clearly.' Just as if he were next to him in the cockpit. “For salvation, you must believe in the risen Jesus Christ, and admit you are a sinner. You must repent your sins, humbly ask God to forgive them, and then, in the presence of men, be baptized. Only with a personal relationship with Jesus, can you truly know God.”
Lt. Cmdr.. Steel still doesn’t want anything to do with God. He just wants his Dauntless to hold together until he can get it back to the Hornet. If he can do that, he will forget about all this trouble, and just go on with his life.
He looks over at his left wing. He just stares at it. He knows, without a doubt, 'that wing shouldn’t be there.' He can hear the wind whistling through the big holes in it. He realizes he can’t do anything to keep his left wing on. 'So why is it still there? Some thing or someone is in control of his left wing. 'What power you must have that keeps his left wing attached to his Dauntless.'
He flies on.
'Here he is wide-awake, when just a few minutes ago he passed out, for lack of blood, and now the left wing miracle. What else could you call these things? He’s awake, when he should be unconscious, and his left wing, which should have sheared off miles back, is still there. Only God could do these things. He knows it has to be God’s doing.'
Emotions begin to rise in him. Something is happening inside. He feels if he doesn’t do something soon he will surely burst. Which way? Will he reject God again, or will he cry out for Him? There's no choice to be had.
As the wet cool air rushes through his cockpit, a loud cry emanates from the depths of his soul. "Oh God, if you are truly there, please help me. I Know I’m a sinner and I most humbly ask that you, here and now, in this place, forgive me of my sins."
A great feeling of peace overtakes him. He feels as though many burdens have suddenly been lifted off his shoulders. He can’t explain it, but he knows for sure now, he’s going to make it.
He flies on, but now with a peaceful confidence, the Hornet will be waiting for him.
Lt. Cmdr. Steel even knows his left wing will survive the hard carrier landing. He knows that someone very powerful is watching over him. 'God is with him in the cockpit.'
Suddenly, as if it were made to appear, he sees his carrier just off to his left. Lt Comdr Steel banks to the right, to give his remaning squadren the right to land before him. Each plane lands safely, with two of them hitting the deck in what pilots call a hard landing.
It's Comdr Steel's turn now. They see how badly his Dauntless Dive Bomber is damaged, and ask him to do a fly by. They want to see if his plane will safely stand a carrier landing. He smiles, as the radio tells him he’d better ditch in the sea. His left wing will never stand the carrier landing. They’ll be standing by to quickly fish him out.
He picks up his mike, and tells them ''not to worry. His left wing should have come off 125 miles back, but God is keeping it on.''
“Comdr, you may be hallucinating”, the radio tells him. “Are you injured?” “Yes” he tells them. “I passed out from lack of blood about 100 miles back, but God is keeping me awake now. Don’t worry.”
Again he smiles to himself as he imagines what is going on with Chuck, the landing deck commander, and his two assistants.
Ensign Chuck Kawayski is looking at the two sailors close by, as if to say we’ve got to convince this guy to ditch. If he tries to land, he’s going to lose that left wing on impact, and when it goes all hell is going to break loose.
“Through his mike he tells the carrier, I’ll show you I’m awake, and my left wing will hold. Just watch.” Lt. Cmdr. Steel pulls back on his stick and sends his dive-bomber up, in a steep climb. At 7500 ft he pushes the stick forward and sends his Dauntless into a steep dive.
Chuck, his two assistants, and just about everyone on board the big carrier, is fixed on Lt. Cmdr. Steel’s plane. To a man, they all know, when he pulls out of his dive, the left wing will go. They’ve all got a good close look at that wing on his fly by and they know the wing will not hold.
His plane is now in a screaming dive, and some on board turn away, so they won’t have to watch what is certain to happen.
The pacific is coming up fast to engulf Lt. Cmdr. Steel’s Dauntless. Just when it seems he will plunge into the choppy seas, He pulls back hard on his stick, and his dive bomber levels off.
To the amazement of Chuck, his two assistants, and most of the carrier’s crew, Lt. Cmdr. Steel’s left wing is still attached to the big Dauntless. Not only that, but the maneuver he just accomplished could only have been done by a very alert pilot.
Lt. Cmdr. Steel fairly shouts over his radio. “Guys, I’d like to land this machine soon, I don't have enough fuel for another demonstration."
Chuck has seen enough. As Lt. Cmdr. Steel’s dive-bomber again passes close by the Hornet, he waves the flag for the Dauntless to land. Lt. Cmdr. Steel flies out a half a mile, and banks his plane to lineup with the carrier’s deck.
'He’s still flying, his left wing is still attached, and he is very alert. How could it get any better? It’s as if God is flying the plane.' The deck is coming up fast, and Chuck, with his two flags, one in each hand of his out stretched arms, is telling Lt. Cmdr. Steel how well he is doing.
As he has been trained to do, Lt. Cmdr. Steel watches Chuck, not the carrier’s deck. He must rely solely on Chuck to tell him if it’s ok to land, or be waved around for another try. He glances at his air speed. He’s got to have enough to keep flying, if he’s waved around for another landing attempt.
The big carrier’s deck is very close now. The huge dauntless's radial engine is still smoothly spinning the big prop out in front. Lt. Cmdr. Steel’s dive bomber is headed straight for the Hornet’s deck. It’s all up to Chuck now. Will he allow this severely damaged plane to land, risking a fiery crash if things go wrong?
Just a few seconds more and Chuck will tell him to land or go around.
Ensign Kawayski watched as Lt. Cmdr. Steel’s wounded Dauntless went out the required half mile and turned around for a landing attempt. As it approached the carrier, Chuck began to have doubts. ‘Boy that plane really looks bad.’ Chuck wonders ‘how could that thing still be flying. That left wing shouldn’t be there at all. It’s bound to collapse once the left landing gear hits the carrier’s deck, and when that happens a fiery inferno could kill pilots, deck crew, and destroy every plane on the Hornet’s deck.’ It seemed ok after Lt. Cmdr. Steel pulled his dive bomber out of that steep dive, but that was then. This is now.
He’s still got two seconds to get Steel’s plane safely away from the carrier. All he has to do is wave his flags in a certain way, and Lt. Cmdr. Steel will bank his plane away from the carrier, insuring it's deck is safe. There’s enough time to do that. Here goes.
Suddenly time comes to a stop, for Ensign Kawayski. Well, almost to a stop. He sees the big Dauntless coming, but it’s hardly moving now. He swiftly tries to move his flags, to get Lt. Cmdr. Steel’s plane away from the carrier’s deck, but his arms barely move. His brain is still racing. He knows what he wants to do, but his body is in slow motion. His flags are not responding to his brain. The big dauntless is still coming. 'Why can’t he make his flags work?'
Just as suddenly things are normal again, and to his amazement the huge Dauntless dive bomber flies just over his head, and hits the deck hard. The tail hook catches the second of four restraining cables across the carrier’s deck and the big plane comes to a sudden halt. The left wing is still attached to the fuselage, and Lt. Cmdr. Steel is climbing out of his cockpit, and standing on it.
Ensign Chuck Kawayski knows something unexplainable has just happened to him. The big plane was moving very slowly for him, but in reality it was moving normally. When he came out of whatever he was in, it was much too late for him to do anything about it’s landing.
A cheer goes up from everyone on deck, and Chuck finds he’s cheering to. The crash crew is cheering. The fire crew is cheering. The medical crew is cheering, and the pilots in their planes are cheering. The Captain on the bridge finds his officers are cheering, so he joins in too.
When Lt. Cmdr. Steel steps on to the deck, he is surrounded by a joyful mob. Pats on the back, hand shakes, and arms around the shoulders engulf him. He wonders 'what all the fuss is about. All he did, with God’s help of course, was bring his plane back safely. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?' He looks over his shoulder and gets a glimpse of his plane. From that glimpse he realizes why everyone is so happy for him. A full half, if not more, of the covering on his left wing is missing, revealing the inner ribs and stringers.
Everyone on deck knows that plane could not possibly fly, in that condition. Something supernatural went on here. In awe, most wonder where it came from. Lt. Cmdr. Steel knows well where it came from.
One of the medics looks down and sees Steel’s blood soaked flight suit. He’s taken immediately to the ship’s hospital, where two doctors determine he should be dead from loss of blood. They look at each other, and wonder why this man is still alive. Like the men on deck, they realize the supernatural is at work here. A good size piece of metal is removed from Lt. Cmdr. Steel’s left leg and great amounts of plasma are administered, to bring his blood supply back to normal.
Two days later Ensign Chuck Kawayski comes to see Lt. Cmdr. Steel. He relates how time slowed down for him while Lt. Cmdr. Steel was landing the big Dauntless. Smiling broadly, Lt. Cmdr. Steel tells Chuck what happened to him in the cockpit of his dive-bomber. Chuck Kawayski is so moved that, in spite of himself, tears come to his eyes. Both men are greatly moved by each others experience, and spontaneously they began sobbing, and praying all at the same time. Ensign Chuck Kawayski has the same experience Lt. Cmdr. Steel had in his Dauntless, just two days ago. He feels a huge peace come over him, and all his burdens are lifted from his shoulders.
In the cramped quarters of the ship’s hospital, all eyes of the medical crew are fixed on the two men. They likewise are moved, and two of them began to pray along with the two men. More peace and lifted burdens are experienced. Later, through prayer, Jonesi and Mike, pilots of Lt. Cmdr. Steel’s squadron, also experience great peace, and the lifting of burdens.
In all, Lt. Cmdr. Steel counts 14 of his shipmates who pray with him and have life changing experiences. He feels in his heart, many will pray to themselves and obtain that wonderful peace.
A meeting with the carrier’s Captain is coming up. He wonders how God will use him again, and tears once more well up in his eyes.
Somewhere along the way, Lt. Cmdr. Steel is certain he knows why God spared his life.