Faith Focus: His was the last plane out

His was the last plane out.

999 planes before his made it over the Austrian countryside, but someone had to take the hit.

Puett Willcox was it.

He was 19 years old the day German soldiers shot down his B-24 aircraft, injuring one crewman, killing three and capturing six. Just a teenager from Longview, Texas, he would spend nearly a year as a prisoner of war.

“I never was frightened or scared the whole time,” said Puett. “I’m still not and haven’t been since, frightened or scared of anything. The Lord is still taking care of me.”

Puett wasn’t afraid because He knew the promises of God. He knew them and had experienced them firsthand. Even 72 years later, the Buckner Westminster Place resident's eyes filled with awe as he described The Lord’s provision at the time he needed it most.

“About halfway down the runway [the day we were shot], Jesus appeared,” Willcox said. “I have a hard time describing this because it was so beautiful. His eyes were so soothing. I don’t remember if they were green or red or blue or what, just soothing. And he said, ‘Something terrible is going to happen, but I’m going to take care of you.’”

During his 357-day imprisonment, Willcox lost 82 pounds and survived a 90-day, 700-mile death march. Still, he never resented his foreign captors.

“I remembered the Bible saying to love your enemy as yourself, or something like that,” Willcox said. “To forgive your enemy, and that’s what I do. When they were treating me bad, I’d forgive them.”

Puett went on to serve 25 total years in the Air Force, and today he’s believed to be the last surviving World War II POW. in East Texas. His experience didn’t break him; it shaped him.

“I learned that Jesus means what He says when He says ‘I’ll take care of you,’” Puett said.

Much like Puett and thousands of other veterans have put their own lives on the line so we could keep our freedom, Jesus had to die so we could live. He was the one who had to go down. He had to sacrifice His life to pay for our sins so we could live free with him. There was no other way.

“God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

And just like The Lord promised to take care of Puett, He promises to take care of us today. 

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6

Deeper reflection:

  • Do you believe God’s promises for you?
  • Who in your life do you need to forgive?

Next steps:

  • Reach out to someone in your life today who you need to forgive.
  • Pray that God would reveal His promises to you in new ways.

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