If you look up hero in the dictionary there very well may be a picture of 94 year-old veteran, Harold Williams next to it. I am left mesmerized each time I have the privilege of listening to his stories. You see, Harold was assigned to the 62nd Armor Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division in World War II. Back then, he was a 21-year-old radio operator/forward observer who, along with 160,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy. He and his fellow soldiers waded through the sea to the bloodstained shores under heavy German artillery fire…many never made it. Harold did.
Later, Harold and his troop were ordered to search a village in Holland during the liberation. A man approached his commanding officer and asked if they were U.S. Army and if they were staying. The officer responded saying that his men were moving on, but more U.S. Army troops would soon follow. The man then went into his home and brought out a man and woman with their two small children that he had been hiding from the Nazis. They had not seen the light of day in four years.
Harold said he and the other soldiers began weeping and pulling everything they had out of their pockets to give to the children. He was never prouder to be an American than at that moment, when they were able to give that family their freedom.
When he came home, Harold continued to offer freedom to those in bondage…but this was a different kind of freedom. Harold became an elder for his church and he has been preaching in the Rescue Mission chapel regularly since 1979. I am forever grateful to have him on my team. He offers hope and a way out to those suffering in the shadows of addiction and homelessness. Just as that Jewish family came from a dark basement into the sunlight for the first time, Harold brings men and women out of the darkness of sin and into the light of Jesus.
“The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” – Matthew 4:16
Harold just celebrated his 94th birthday and is now the only living member of his landing craft to land on Omaha Beach. We are so thankful that Harold made it off that beach to liberate so many for his country and for the Lord. Thank you, Lord, for heroes like Harold.