Gordon C. Helsel: Fulfilling a Battlefield Promise to God

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes brief accounts, written by our authors, about how self-publishing their books has affected their lives. The following are the words of Gordon C. Helsel; Vietnam veteran, speaker and author of  “The Day God Showed Up.” 

The motivation for my book, The Day God Showed Up, began with an encounter in the confines of my kitchen while my wife and I enjoyed our first cup of coffee for the day. Suddenly a strange quiet came over me and I could not hear a word my wife was saying. Even the usual barking and playing of our Yorkshire Terriers became inaudible. The room was completely silent.

I was in sort of a fog and I heard an inner voice saying very plainly: “Do you remember what you promised Me 40-plus years ago?”

I knew right away what the message meant. I had made a promise to God when I was a U.S. Army sergeant bleeding to death in the Vietnam War. I said, “If you get me out of this, I will do whatever you want me to do!”

After I heard the Voice, my experiences in Vietnam came flooding back.

February 27, 1968 was the worst day of my life. I was convinced it would be my last day on Earth. Yet as I reveal in the book, God had mercy on me and He showed up to save my life in a most surprising way.

Our mission on that day was to find and destroy the 2nd Battalion of hardened, well-trained North Vietnamese. It was about midday as my company moved toward the summit of a vast mountain. I saw my friends Mike and Art die and, as I describe in the book, I will always remember their faces. I’m not alone with these memories. Virtually all combat veterans forever remember their fallen brothers in arms.

After Mike and Art died, I ran firing to my left. The first bullet hit my left side, right under my heart. Somehow I got to my feet and started to run again. The next bullet struck my left forearm. That took me down and I couldn’t move because blood gushed from my wound with every beat of my heart.

After the miracle that saved my life, someone picked me up and took me to safety. I couldn’t speak, but as I stared at the sky, I made my promise to God.

Many miracles took place on that trail. The interaction with folks who’ve read my book is simply phenomenal. Some told me about how God showed up for them in their times of crisis. Many said they couldn’t put the book down. Many cried and said they recommend it to other veterans to help them heal from their battle scars.

I take no credit for the book. I wrote it to thank God and everyone who honorably served our country. I pray that everyone who reads it will fully understand: To God be the glory!

– Gordon C. Helsel

Note: Mr. Helsel will be holding a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Alexandria, Va., on Nov. 10 (details); and a Veteran’s Day event at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Va., on Nov. 11 (details). More information on Mr. Helsel is available at www.TheDayGodShowedUp.com.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 300- 450 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


  1. Thank you for being so transparent in God’s message to you. He calls us to His work audibly and sometimes just in a “feeling”. My call was not quite as dramatic, but just as strong. My book came from that call. Thanks you for writing this post to encourage others on their journey. Robin

  2. Pingback: 46th anniversary of ‘The Day God Showed Up’ « Gordon Helsel

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