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|Return to Laos
|Thursday, May 24, 2018|
Choking smoke, a shattered canopy and the eerie sound of wind against wings: pilot David Thomas Dinan was in trouble. A Soviet MiG fighter had shredded his F-105 fighter over the jungles of Laos. When not riddled with bullets, an F-105—heavily used during the Vietnam War—could fly at Mach 2 and carry sixteen 750 pound bombs.
As the swept wing jet pancaked out of control there was no question it was time to bail. By all accounts, David T. Dinan successfully ejected from his aircraft. Yet he died upon landing and his body was not recovered.
Leyland Sorensen, who served as an Air Force pararescueman was chosen for the mission. Lowered by helicopter, his job was to bring back the injured and the dead.
But enemy gunfire erupted around Leyland’s helicopter and the rescuers were forced to abort their mission of recovering Dinan’s body. Back at base, the rescue attempt would be rescheduled.
Except, it never was. Not that week. Not the next month. Not the next year. An administrative oversight? Maybe. No one knows.
But more than four decades later, when retired Air Force pararescueman Leyland Sorensen was invited to return to Laos aboard a C-17 and try to locate Dinan’s remains, he accepted the call of duty.
Imagine riding in a helicopter 45 years later over the very spot you’d been fired upon. For three days they scoured a hillside they thought might be the place. Nothing.
On the third and final day allotted to the mission, they came upon a nylon pad that appeared to be from a parachute. About 25 feet from the pad was more parachute material: a harness, buckles, and fabric. They also found a locker key and a sock.
Then came the miracle. Lying on the ground was a laminated military ID card, caked with dirt. The name was partially visible: “David T….”
A subsequent recovery team discovered the rest of David T. Dinan’s remains. Last month, he was finally laid to rest at home in the U.S.—forty-five years after the first rescue was attempted.
To me, this is more than a powerful Memorial Day story. It reminds me of what Christ did to bring us to God. He traveled all the way from heaven to earth, enduring deadly attacks from a savage enemy. Christ ultimately gave up His own life to extract us from the wreckage of our sinful state. We who were “dead in trespasses and sins” have now been made alive through the sacrifice of Christ.
What a rescue! What a Savior!
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