published Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Mohney: Last-minute decision makes Christmas memory

By Nell Mohney

During the Christmas season several years ago, a group of friends were sharing Christmas memories. All our memories were centered around experiences where love triumphed. It reminded me of a sentence from a Greek poem written by Alexander Pope: “How vast a memory has love.”

One storyteller was Wayne Fleck, who shared a memory of Christmas Eve in 1958. He was a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Korea. For two weeks before Christmas, they had been inundated by monsoon floods. Since most roads were closed, fresh food could not be delivered and they were living on C-rations.

Wayne explained that the situation seemed worse because of the discouraging events in his personal life. He had attended flight school in Bainbridge, Ga., and his class was assigned to fly the powerful F-100 aircraft. Everything went well until he became ill each time he flew. He was suffering from vertigo, an inner ear problem that disqualified him as a pilot.

Though disappointed, he was comforted by the fact his new assignment was Hickam Air Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. That meant he and his fiancée, Mary Lou Pasterer, could be married, and she could be with him in Honolulu.

Suddenly, Wayne’s orders were changed to the demilitarized zone in Korea. On Christmas Eve 1958, he was feeling very sorry for himself. Yet, in the quiet of a Christmas Eve worship service, God gave Wayne an idea that brought the spirit of Christmas to those lonely Americans serving our nation. Since he was in charge of construction, he had a KC-97 tanker plane at his disposal.

The men had received no letters or packages from home because of the flood, so he and two other pilots flew to Pusan, Korea, filled their plane with letters, packages, Christmas trees and Christmas dinners, and flew to all American bases in the country.

It was a never-to-be-forgotten experience. Men who had been discouraged on Christmas Eve were, on Christmas Day, cheering with joy. Dec. 25, 1958, became their most memorable Christmas.

Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at

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