Friend and pastor, Rick Hagans stepped up to the microphone at the memorial service and cleared his throat. “We are here to celebrate the life and home going of an unusual man.”
Sherman Hamblen, originally from Texas passed away last week after years of suffering. Most did not know he was sick because he never let on to “us common folk.” He was a mystery, an oddity maybe, but definitely one of a kind.
I met Sherman in the nineties when I had his two daughters in kids’ choir. Getting little girls ready for school or church is a feat for most moms, Sherman handled this like a champ. Most of the time his two daughters (and baby son) were early to services and choir practices . As daddies go, I would say he was one of the best, and his children back me up on that.
Sherman was a Bible scholar. He always had questions to spring on other preachers and loved a good Old Testament discussion. It was shared at the memorial that for a long period of time he worked and lived with the men at His Place, trading his teaching skills and compassionate heart for room and board.
I knew all this about Sherman going in to the memorial. What shocked me was finding that he was a highly decorated soldier. He had served in Vietnam and was primarily credited for saving his platoon in 1970.
There was a letter from the US Army describing the events of that day. Sherman was wounded twice while rescuing his brothers in battle. He received two Purple Hearts and the Silver Star for his heroism. Sherman never mentioned this to any of us.
As men lined up to speak a few words to honor Sherman’s life it began to sink in. We had all been in the presence of greatness when he was around. Although he may not have looked or acted like a hero, he was indeed.
I have heard so many people say that war destroys people. I cannot imagine the trauma nor do I want to. It’s hard to read about the things that our young boys had to endure in Vietnam. Sherman was not destroyed. He latched on to the one thing that prevents destruction, his God. It was his faith that got him through hard spots; his Jesus calmed the fears. It wasn’t that Sherman didn’t want to talk about the good he had done, he was just too busy talking about how good God is.
The last few years of Sherman’s life were painful, but he never complained. He adored his children and grandchildren. He spent 10 months in the VA hospital. Many who visited him to comfort and console ended up being comforted and consoled themselves. He never lost his passion for scripture and telling the “good news.” He even asked one of the pastors who would participate in his memorial to present the Gospel message at the event. Even in death Sherman was a selfless hero.
It was an honor to have known him.