A Braveboy From Coward

Many of us will celebrate Memorial Day today with a cookout, picnic or parade. Kids are excited because it marks the end of school. Adults are excited because it usually means a day off work. But many have lost sight of what Memorial Day actually means. Originally called Decoration Day, it is a day to honor and remember those who have died in our nation’s service. It is a day to celebrate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Many have family members who have served or are currently serving in our armed forces. I’m sure there are many stories that could be told to honor them. Today, I would like to share with you a story about one of my family members, Pfc Toby Braveboy from Coward, South Carolina – a brave boy from Coward.

On, November 17, 1965, then 24 year-old Toby was walking point when his platoon was attacked by the North Vietnamese. He and three of his buddies who were with him were wounded. Toby knew he needed to get help but couldn’t call out for it for fear the North Vietnamese would hear him. He tried to crawl towards the sounds of fighting where the rest of his platoon was involved in heavy battle. On his way, he passed many wounded and finally realized he couldn’t make it.

Back home, our family had been informed his platoon had been attacked and he was presumed dead. His obituary had been printed and a funeral was held. But over in Vietnam, there was more unfolding to the story.

As Toby was trying to make his way to help for himself and his buddies, a group of Vietnamese soldiers came toward him. He pretended to be dead. They were executing the wounded they found all around him. After they moved on, he managed to pull himself by a stream and hide in the tall grass. Without food or a gun and wounded, he hid for almost a week.

The danger of being killed by the air above was as great as the hope of being rescued by air. Bombing missions were all over the area and he prayed everyday he wouldn’t be hit by the bombs dropping all around him. He could hear helicopters nearby but was afraid to come out for fear the Vietnamese would find him. Finally realizing he would die from his injuries or hunger, he decided to try to flag down help.

When he heard the next helicopter, he crawled into an open space and used his bloody t-shirt as a flag to wave it down. The pilot saw him and after scouting the area, came back and dropped down to rescue him. Toby was rescued on Thanksgiving Eve, November 24, 1965.

Toby’s story is one of survival against all odds. It’s one of hope in the face of defeat. It’s one of rebirth and resurrection as he was presumed dead but was really alive. It’s a story you and I should remember when entangled in life’s battles. Sometimes in life, we are wounded or held captive. We try to seek help but just can’t seem to find it and our enemy is out to execute us. Other’s might even give up on us and presume we are already “dead.” But, there is a way to be rescued. There is a way to redemption. There is a way to resurrection. It’s through the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom – Jesus Christ. This Memorial Day, take time to not only remember and honor those who have fought and paid the price for our country’s freedom, but to honor the One who truly sets us free.

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. John 11:25-26

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. Psalm 18:16-18

If you would like to read more about Toby’s story, you can go HERE and there are several different links including one to Time Magazine.

3 Responses to A Braveboy From Coward
  1. Carol
    May 25, 2009 | 8:26 am

    This was awesome! What an inspiring story. 🙂 Thanks for the reminder that we should celebrate our freedom in Christ today.

  2. Lelia Chealey
    May 25, 2009 | 10:03 am

    OH wow..this was awesome!

    Thanks Carol for pointing me here from your blog!

  3. Alexander L Garron Jr
    July 2, 2016 | 1:03 am

    I was in Ft. Sam Houston TX recovering from knee surgery. I was drafted 6/5/65 and injured in training as a medical specialist. I read this amazing story in Time/Newsweek (can’t recall, Dec. 65) and could never forget the strange coincidental combination of words…bravery; PFC Braveboy and hometown Coward S. Carolina. Never forgot the horrible ordeal of a young man placed somewhere none of us, he, his family or friends, wanted to be. Decided today to do internet search, and sure enough I did not imagine such a remarkable combination of spoken common words attached to to a real physical event of a real person from a real place, in an unreal and ugly heart wrenching event; while I lay recovering in San Antonio TX. I read of his early death and, my wife Noreen and I, will pray for him. Alexander