Claim: An Air Force officer named Tony Mitchell sent his wife a message from Afghanistan asking her to enlist Christians to pray in support of U.S. soldiers engaged in a "blood bath."
Example:[Collected on the Internet, 2002]
At 10am this morning I received a prayer request from church. Cathy Mitchell, who attends Spring Hills, called in to our secretary. Her husband, Tony, is an Air force commander in Afghanistan. She received an urgent e-mail from him this morning. It said, "We need Christians to pray, pray, pray. We're in a Blood Bath here!" Please pray for God's protection of our troops and HIS wisdom for their commanders. Pass this on to as many as you think will respond. Tony had an e-mail address and his wife said he could use all the encouragement from Christians he can get. It is: email@example.com God Bless our troops!
At 10am this morning I received a prayer request from church. Cathy Mitchell, who attends Spring Hills, called in to our secretary. Her husband, Tony, is an Air Force Commander in Afghanistan.
She received an urgent email from him this morning. It said, "We need Christians to pray, pray, pray. We're in a Blood Bath here!" Please pray for God's protection of our troops and HIS wisdom for their commanders.
Pass this on to as many as you think will respond.
Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. I ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
When you receive this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our ground troops in Afghanistan. There is nothing attached.... This can be very powerful.... Just send this to all the people in your address book. Do not stop the wheel, please.... Of all the gifts you could give a US Soldier, Prayer is the most powerful.
Origins: This urgent plea began hitting our inboxes in mid-March 2002. The original version was a single paragraph and included an e-mail address; later versions omitted the address and picked up tacked-on "Prayer Wheel" codas.
Is it real? What we know so far is:
Although the domain portion of the e-mail address provided in the first version of this message (jbab.aorcentaf.af.mil) is a valid Air Force domain, mail sent to "Tony Mitchell" bounces with a "recipient name is not recognized" error.
None of the churches named (or located in towns named) "Spring Hills" that we located and queried knew anything about this message.
Queries to the U.S. Air Force about this message produced no useful information.
There have been no news reports of U.S. military troops' involvement in any sudden emergency or catastrophic action in Afghanistan that might reasonably be termed a "blood bath."
An Air Force officer's reacting to a crisis situation by sending a frantic e-mail to his wife asking her to enlist Christians to pray for our soldiers might be considered a rather questionable act.
It's a given that both sides of any armed conflict will be calling upon the god(s) of their understanding to aid them in their efforts, and that non-combatants will be adding their prayers as well. Although unofficial supplications of this nature are the norm, we know of at least one case where prayer was officially used to aid American soldiers.
In 1944, General George S. Patton, Jr. directed Chaplain O'Neill of the Third Army to compose a prayer to entreat the assistance of the Almighty in ameliorating the miserable weather Third Army was having to fight while battling the Germans as well. The prayer was commissioned around 14 December 1944, printed on cards that carried a Christmas greeting from General Patton on their reverse, and distributed to the troops on the 22nd of that month.
On the 23rd, the day after the following prayer was issued, the weather cleared and remained perfect for the next six days.
Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.
Those six days proved enough time for Third Army to break the back of the Von Rundstedt offensive and turn a temporary setback into a crushing defeat for the enemy.
Last updated: 7 April 2008
Patton, George S. Jr. War As I Knew It.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995 ISBN 0-395-73529-7 (pp. 184-186).
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