By Mark Bowser
A ferocious storm battered the tiny ship. Those on board weren’t confident that the wooden sides could hold up to this type of punishment. But, the Mayflower continued on its journey and what a journey it turned out to be. Particularly, for young John Howland.
During the storm, John came up from the lower deck and onto the exposed top deck. Why he came up in the middle of the storm, we may never know.
John wasn’t on the top deck very long before the violent storm swept him overboard. Those who saw it, thought he was dead for sure. For John sunk below the waves and they thought that was the last time they would ever see him. But, a few seconds later, John appeared from beneath the waves and he had hold of a rope that was attached to the ship. It is a miracle in and of itself that a rope attached to the ship was dangling in the water … and an even greater miracle that John’s outstretched hand was able to grasp it as his body hit the cold sea.
The men on board the Mayflower quickly came to John’s rescue. They pulled and heaved at the rope and were able to pull John alongside the ship. They then lowered a boathook and scooped John up like ice cream being put in a cone.
Watching the scene play out in front of her as if it was a modern-day horror movie, twelve year old Elizabeth Tilley stood on the deck as her emotions convulsed with anguish. What a relief when they pulled John on board.
In the not-too-distant future, Elizabeth and John developed a budding romance. A romance for the ages. They eventually married and had ten children, eighty-two grandchildren, and their descendants sprinkled the American countryside like lilies on the prairie.
Some of their descendants included the actors Humphrey Bogart and Alec Baldwin. Their most famous and influential descendants include three United States presidents: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.
What would’ve happened if John Howland had died that day? Just what would have happened to America during World War II if FDR wasn’t in the White House? What would’ve happened if Saddam Hussein was able to continue his rampage against tiny oil rich Kuwait? And, what would’ve happened if we had not had the strong leadership of George W. Bush after September 11, 2001? We will never know.
The Bush family faced a second miracle saving in the 1940’s. During World War II, the senior Bush was the pilot of a three-man torpedo bomber in the Pacific. This was an extremely dangerous job during the war.
Bush flew 58 combat missions during World War II. One of the more stressful missions happened in June 1944. Bush and his crew took on anti-aircraft fire which forced them to make an emergency landing – in water. An emergency landing is harrowing at any time, but in water under those circumstances it is nearly impossible. Little did they know, that experience was a cakewalk compared to what was to come.
On September 2, 1944, they were again hit by anti-aircraft fire during a bombing run on a Japanese island. It was as if a giant boxer had hit the underside of the plane. Bush described it this way, “Suddenly there was a jolt as if a massive fist had crunched into the belly of the plane. Smoke poured into the cockpit, and I could see flames rippling across the crease of the wing, edging toward the fuel tanks.”
His plane was on fire, but Bush managed to finish his bombing run. He then made his way out to sea. His two companions, already dead, may have been the lucky ones.
His plane was crippled and not flyable. Bush’s only choice was to bail out of the plane. As he disembarked, his body hit the tail before finding clear air. The impact ripped a gash into his forehead and his parachute.
Somehow, Bush made it to the ocean surface still conscious of his surroundings. He was losing a lot of blood and being stung by incessant jellyfish which caused noxious vomiting. Despite all of this, Bush managed to swim to his inflatable lifeboat.
The hours felt like days as he floated there on the ocean surface. The Japanese were searching for him and torture was in his future. If not for the American fighter planes which drove off the Japanese boats looking for Bush, his name would be just a footnote in history books. Bush was finally rescued by an American submarine, the USS Finback, and the future 41st president of the United States lived to see another day.
Every day, we face certain doom if not for a miracle from God. How many times have we crossed over death without even a inkling of its existence? We will never know on this side of heaven.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to take this day for granted. I hope you will do the same. Thanks for reading today.
ANNOUNCING! A New Podcast Gaining Attention — Let Me Tell You A Story with Mark Bowser
Stories are everywhere! We all love them! We love them in books, at the movies, and in our favorite podcasts. But, what if a story could be — more? What if a story could change your life in a substantial, positive way? What if a story could take you to the pinnacles of success and show you how to scale life’s mountains too?
Well, that is what Let Me Tell You a Story podcast with Mark Bowser is all about. Professional Speaker & Author Mark Bowser will take you behind the scenes of some of history’s greatest feats and unknown achievements so that their stories can be a city on a hill shining like a beacon in the night inspiring us to live our best! Come join us every Monday and Thursday! Please subscribe now so that you won’t miss one exciting episode.
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