Jun 30, 2021 Print this article

St. Michael Protects USAF Combat Mission Under Heavy Enemy Fire: “It was a miracle!”


Dear TFP:

After reading the story of Sandra from Ocala who has a devotion to Saint Michael and attributes his protection to saving her in her accident, leading to her desire to convert to Catholicism, I am motivated to share my own Saint Michael story.

I'm a '75 graduate of Saint Michael’s College in Vermont and was in the 4-year Air Force ROTC program there. One Saturday before Mass at the college chapel, I read the short version of the prayer to St. Michael: “St. Michael the Archangel, protect us in battle, that we may not perish in the awful judgement.” I thought, “Wow! How appropriate! I’m attending Saint Michael’s College and I’m in ROTC! If I'm ever facing combat, I’ll say that prayer.”

I also decide to adopt Saint Michael as my patron saint. It seemed like an obvious match. Fast forward to the pre-dawn hours of Jan. 17, 1991. It was the opening hours of Desert Storm. As my pilot and I finished the pre-takeoff checklist and in the brief moments before he lit the afterburners for takeoff, I made the sign of the cross and silently recited the prayer.

Two hours later, about 4:20 am, we were northbound in Iraqi airspace, the sixth jet in a trail formation of eight (my best friend and St. Mike's classmate was leading the formation!). The anti-aircraft fire was horrendous! At one point, I watched a surface-to-air missile fly past us on the left side. We continued on, accomplished our mission and returned to Saudi airspace to refuel in the grey, pre-dawn light.

I wondered how many of the original eight planes in our formation would be there. Incredibly, all of them were!

A year later, the man who’d been flying in the lead aircraft with my friend and classmate was interviewed by the Department of Defense newspaper, Stars and Stripes, to recount what that first night had been like. He said, “The anti-aircraft fire was so heavy, I don't know how we made it through. IT WAS A MIRACLE!” I had never told him or anyone else of my silent prayer on the runway. But he was right, it was a miracle. My patron saint had answered my prayer!

Please feel free to share my story.

Maj. Joe, USAF (Ret)