1976-Just turned 18
It was 1976, I was 18 years old, serving as a Paratrooper of the 1/509 Airborne SETAF, stationed in Vicenza, Italy with NATO.
While on a training exercise, I drove a "Mule" ( (U.S. . Military M274 Truck, Platform, Utility, 1/2 Ton, 4X4 ) onto the bed of a semi-trailer for transportation several miles or kilometers away. This task took some skill and attention. Due to improper loading , the "mule"was back heavy. While going up the ramp, gravity took over and it did a 180 degree back flip!
I remembered seeing my Lieutenant in front me, motioning and directing my vehicle to come forward, turned away in horror, clasping his eyes not wanting to see the impact.
Blue sky and clouds appeared in my vision , as I began to flip up slowly and backwards . I knew I was going over.
Then there was a "blank" A matter of seconds, but seemed much much longer, something like watching a slow motion film, and then, suddenly, it seemed part of the movie clip was missing , is the best way I could describe it.
Miraculously, I had landed like a cat , on all fours, outside the "Mule", completely facing opposite of the direction of the fall. It was physically impossible for me to have done such a maneuver in mid-air, much less in such a space of time . I did not even have time to think of the consequences of just what had happened.
On impact. the vehicle contents were crushed, the steering column jammed into the seat where I had just sat. It now looked like an upside down turtle, it's wheels spinning and gasoline pouring out of the tank.
My chest would have been taken the full force of the steering wheel being backwards into the seat. My back probably broken from weight of the impact. Fully loaded the "Mule" weighs 1870 Ibs or 850 kilos. There is no overhead protection, no roof or row bar.
Other soldiers standing by , never saw the accident , to busily engaged in conversation, Many began cursing and swearing at me for being so stupid & quickly rallied to flip the vehicle over not even asking if I was okay.
But I survived because someone or something, probably my Guardian Angel, pulled me out- unknown to everyone else but to me and my God.
Over 40 years later, I still can clearly recall those events of that day.
At that time I had just given my life to Christ .
and He spared for a purpose and a reason. I have done volunteer and missions work in 19 different countries
and still going strong for Him-ever thankful for his divine , angelic, intervention.
I found on a "Mule" on YouTube,, though now these machines are decommissioned and no longer in service.