The Short Straw

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This time of year is always a time of reflection for the Chinn family. 

The reason October is so important to our family is, that Dad’s ship (the Aircraft Carrier, CVL-23, USS Princeton) was sunk on October 24th, 1944 in the battle of Leyte Gulf during World War 2. 108 men on the carrier did not survive that day. Dad did, and we were raised to be grateful for God’s grace and provision in our lives by a Dad who had experienced it. My older brother fittingly named this time of year as “Passover” for our family. It feels like that every year.

There is no way I can tell the stories like Dad did, but he left searing impressions on me of that day and of experiences leading up to it. One experience has special meaning to me. 

By the fall of 1944, life away from home in war had taken a toll on all the men aboard the ships. Princeton had been in 20 of the major battles of the Pacific, earning 9 Battle Stars. Each of those battles weighed on the men as did the constant threat of peril.

The War Department decided that fall, that sailors needed a morale boost. So, all hands were stopped to hear Princeton’s captain make an announcement. The Princeton was going to send 2 men (of about 1,500) home as headlines to confirm we were winning the war and thinning our troops. 3 men were qualified, so the final decision would be made by drawing straws. The short straw would not go home that day. 

Dad was one of the three called to the Bridge to draw straws.

He knew he was the only Christian of the 3 and he had no doubt in his mind he was headed back to the Kansas farm. When he drew his straw however, it was so short it fell out of the Captain’s hand and hit the deck.

The other 2 men hooped and hollered, slapping each other on the back announcing, “We’re going home!” Dad found an empty space and cried his heart out.


Think About it

We sometimes tell ourselves that being a Christian comes with promises of “only good.” Being a Christian is not an exemption certificate for life’s hard lessons.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.[i]


[i] Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)

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