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The barrel of the loaded rifle was my pressing into my stomach
Trouble out of nowhere
We were at a New Years Eve party in Lansing, Michigan when my mother-in-law asked me if I could go and get her younger brother and bring him back there before midnight. I agreed. My father-in-law and two other brothers-in-law went along for the ride.
My father-in-law Tony waited with me in the car, while the other two went inside to get Lorenzo. The car I had then was an Oldsmobile Cutlass with a V-8 engine. It had dual exhausts and some fairly loud mufflers.
It was taking too long for them to come out of the house. We needed to get moving if we were to get back to the party before the ball dropped. I didn't want to blow the horn, so I gunned the engine a couple of times to get their attention inside the house, hoping they would get the message that we needed to get going. A few seconds later I gunned the engine again .
Suddenly a man appeared at my side of the car. I rolled down the window to see what he wanted. Swearing and muttering something unintelligible, he threw a punch that glanced off of my left cheek. Instinctively I threw open the door and knocked him back.
I jumped out of the car, not really realizing how serious it had become. He hollered for someone to, "Bring me my gun."
Seconds later a young woman came running up and handed him a carbine-type rifle. As Tony was still piling out of the passenger side, the man poked the gun barrel right into my stomach.
I had realized a little too late that the guy was a drunken wacko. I had just come back from Vietnam, so I knew all of the bad things that could happen when you were gut shot.
Tony grabbed a beer bottle by the neck and started waving it around; telling the gunman to, “Go ahead and shoot, you S.O.B.” At about the same time my brother-in-law Wayne ran off of the front porch and started making threatening gestures with a pocketknife. It was getting a little more than crazy. I was already picturing myself as being gut-shot.
Thank God for Frank
My brother-in-law Frank came out of nowhere. That was hard for Frank to do because he was huge. He was about 6 feet 8 inches tall and meaner looking than a football lineman. He was wearing a loose-fitting green army field jacket that made him look even bigger. Picture Julius Peppers; formerly of the Carolina Panthers!
As the gunman glanced up at Frank's immense figure boring down on him, I spun and knocked the gun barrel aside with my forearm. It went off next to my ear with a deafening explosion. Frank landed on top of him and it was all over in an instant.
I remember thinking about the irony of having survived a hand grenade being thrown at me while I was in Vietnam and then dying like this after I got home. God must have had other plans for me.
I decided not to press charges after learning that the gunman would already be spending a couple of months in jail for firing his rifle inside of the city limits.
It definitely bears repeating; thank God for Frank.
Read the article below about surviving a tornado; another time when things could have ended much differently
- We Survived A Tornado that hit Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan!
The Tornado A few years ago, on a hot Sunday afternoon in August, I came as close to death as I ever want to. My family and I had spent the afternoon watching speedboat races on a lake near Big Rapids,...