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An Old Soldier Fades Away

On April 19, 1951, General Douglas MacArthur addressed a joint session of the United States Congress upon his retirement from military service.  General MacArthur was one of the most prominent military figures in United States history.  He led the Allied forces in defeating Japan in World War II, and he became Supreme Allied Commander in charge of Japan’s transition to democracy after the war.  He also had command over the United Nations forces during the early part of the Korean War.  After being recalled by President Truman, General MacArthur gave his speech before Congress as both a defense for himself and a closing address for his career.

In his speech, General MacArthur referred to a line from an old Army ballad.  He said, “I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barracks ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”  He finished his speech by saying, “Like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.”

Another one of the old soldiers who served in the United States Army during the Korean War has now faded away as well.  Frank Chumley passed from this life on March 2, 2008.  In Korea, he served in the Army’s military police and as a prison guard.  He suffered the hardships and dangers of war with honor, and completed his duty to his country.  His remains were buried with military honors in Columbia, Tennessee, on March 5, 2008.

Frank’s service as a soldier in the United States Army was highly honorable, but the true service of his life was as a soldier in the army of his Lord, Christ Jesus.  He was a dedicated Christian, husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend.  He was a selfless servant of the Lord who loved others because he loved Christ most of all.  He made the fullest use of the talents, abilities, and opportunities given to him by God to be of service to Christ and to others.  He truly bore the image of Christ Jesus in the way that he lived and cared for others.  It is for these things that he will be most remembered and honored, with the highest honor coming from the Lord whom he loved throughout his life.

Frank’s service to Christ began after the war, when he returned to Columbia, Tennessee, to his wife Jean and was baptized into Christ in March of 1954.  While working as a truck driver during the day, Frank devoted himself to Bible study at night.  He began teaching Bible classes and preaching sermons when he had opportunities.  At last, he decided to leave his secular work and take on evangelism as his life’s vocation.  For more than fifty years, Frank spent his life preaching the gospel of Christ in Columbia, Tennessee; Sumter, South Carolina; Lake City, Florida; Lexington, Alabama, Madison, Tennessee; Charlotte, North Carolina; Tompkinsville, Kentucky; and Gallatin, Tennessee.  Not only did Frank serve the Lord as a preacher, but he also served as an elder in the Lord’s church, overseeing Christ’s people with great wisdom, tenderness, and care.

Now, Frank Chumley’s service to the Lord is complete.  He has fought the good fight, he has finished his course, and he has kept the faith.  Therefore, his reward is a crown of righteousness from His Lord (2Tim. 4:7-8).  He rests from his labors in the joy of his Lord, and because of his labors, many others have the hope of that same reward.  The old soldier has faded away from this life, but he has not died, for he goes on to live in spirit forever through our Lord Jesus Christ.

As the old soldier fades from our sight, let us not allow him to fade from our memories.  Frank Chumley has left for us an example of how to live and to love in the name of Christ.  He always did his duty as God gave him light to see his duty, and by the same light we also see our duty.  The good fight belongs to us now, so we must put on that armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17) and carry on.  Like brother Frank, let us fight the good fight of faith and take hold of eternal life to which we were called (1Tim. 6:12).  Then we, like him, can also fade away, but never die.

Stacey E. Durham




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