It was August 1958, 02:40 at a latitude below the southernmost tip of Africa with no horizon in sight. The sky around Hollis Johnson’s station on the bridge of the USS Hammerberg “lit up like noon.” The crew aboard the destroyer escort that night, 200 miles west of the main convoy in the South Atlantic, wouldn’t know until the following March that they had just witnessed the last secret “A test” the U.S. would conduct.
Task Force Chaplain Floyd Sims was aboard the Hammerberg and represented comfort to Lieutenant Junior Grade Johnson at a time when he needed to reconnect with his roots and re-evaluate where his life was headed. This forty day, forty night assignment at sea held many biblical connections later to be recognized.
LTJG Johnson spent three years enlisted, most as Chief Engineering Officer. In that time, the Hammerberg voyaged south and north, Atlantic and Pacific, and even crossed both the Arctic Circle and the Equator within four consecutive months. The ship and crew fulfilled every operational commitment they made during LTJG Johnson’s tour. “Most things, there’s some way to get it done. May not be the easy way, but that’s fine with me,” says LTJG Johnson, looking back.
The awareness that God was still there and cared grew to be the vessel God used to steer his life back to relationship with Christ. “I was at a point where I wasn’t sure I thought I needed him, but he sure helped… [Chaplain Sims] represented the relationship,” reflects LTJG Johnson. The mission they shared would be the only time they’d ever spend face to face. “One of the benefits of living this long is looking back and seeing how things work together and how God’s doing His thing though we’re not aware of what’s going on. You just never know.”
Chaplain Sims passed away earlier this year. LTJG Johnson reached out to Chaplain Sims’ widow to let her know how much her husband meant in his life.
The seeds we plant may not be recognized this side of eternity, but they have eternal consequences. Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.”