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Chaplain calls rocket attack survival a matter of faith

6 Aug 2004 | Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

Navy Cmdr. Stephen Pike has a new sermon about faith in God for his Sunday morning services.

The chaplain for Regimental Combat Team 1 said it was nothing less than Divine intervention when a 107 mm rocket soared in from about three miles away and buried itself underneath the trailer where Pike slept July 27. 

The rocket never detonated.

At about 3:10 a.m., Pike later recalled, he jumped off his bed.  A tremendous "thud" startled him from his sleep, caused by the rockets' unspent fuel that bore down into the ground.

"The first memory I have is being about three feet above the bed and parallel to it," said Pike, a 47-year-old Episcopalian priest from Louisville, Ky.  "It missed the corner of the trailer where the head of my bed is on by three inches, so it missed my head by about 20 inches."

Pike said the fact the rocket didn't detonate is nothing short of a miracle.  One Marine familiar with ordnance, he said, told him that 107 mm rockets reliably detonate on impact.

"I don't know why it didn't explode," said Pike.  "Many of the munitions that our enemy uses are degraded or it could have been a faulty fuse, but the fact is much of what they shoot at us does explode."

Pike doesn't question they why's or how's.  For him, it's a matter of faith and the fulfillment of promises between him and God.

"God preserved my life for some reason that I've yet to discover," he explained.  "It just wasn't my time to die, which I say with all humility because I've worked with so many wonderful young men at Bravo Medical whose time it was to die."

"Why they died and why I live - I don't know," Pike added. "But I do know God is ultimately in charge of all things," added Pike.

Pike was working on a weekly gospel lesson - verses from the Bible's Luke 12:13-21 - that evening.  The lesson of the scripture wasn't lost on the chaplain. 

It's a story of the rich fool whose land produced such abundance that he built bigger barns for all his goods, Pike explained.

"The Lord's comment about this is, 'You fool! Don't you know that your life will be required this very night and then what of all your wealth,'" he said.

Pike said that since the occurrence, the camp's buzzed about it.  Marines and sailors, he said, are taking a moment and think about their life.

"Some have a purely rationalistic understanding of it, while others say I've been preserved by the very hand of God," Pike said.  "Something extraordinary happened and the fact it happened to the chaplain has pushed people to a new level of reflection about it.  I certainly believe that it's one way God is using the experience."

Despite having to shift the trailer to properly excavate the rocket two weeks ago, Pike since returned to his original living quarters.  There, he said, his faith is grounded.

"I don't want to move," Pike said.