July 1, 2009
Breath of Fresh Air
by Fred Alberti Sr.; and Fred Alberti Jr., Crosswalk.com Director of Social Media
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
40 years ago, while anchored in the Philippines Islands, I was jarred from sleep by the 'battle stations' klaxons. After finding my way to my battle station, I was told there was a fire spreading aboard ship and was issued an OBA (Oxygen Breather) and sent below decks to search for injured shipmates in need of help.
Two decks below the hanger bay I came across my friend Tony. His eyes were nearly swollen shut and he was semi-conscious. Fortunately he was as skinny as I was, about 130 pounds soaking wet. I removed my Oxy mask and gave him a few breaths of pure air. I put him over my shoulder and struggled up the first ladder. At the top, I stopped to give another breath of Oxy to Tony, then began climbing another ladder to the hanger bay where I slipped Tony to the deck and yelled for a medic.
Like many of the injured, he was transferred to the USS Constellation for emergency medical treatment. That was the last I saw of Tony, until recently. I've since learned that Tony lost 50 percent of his lung capacity in that fire on the Kitty Hawk. He claims that if I hadn't removed my mask and given him some of my Oxy, he probably would not have survived.
Everyday we come into contact with people who are suffering from the choking "smoke" of sin. The easy thing to do is to judge them and turn our back.
Tony would probably have died if he had not been given the oxygen his lungs craved. How many people have you come into contact with who need the fresh oxygen of an encouraging word or a helping, loving hand?
Intersecting Faith & Life: Take some time to help in a homeless shelter this month. Be the bearer of a breath of fresh encouragement.
Fred Alberti Sr. served aboard the USS Kitty Hawk 1967-1969. He has two children and lives with his wife. He may be emailed at [email protected].