"Go on oxygen...plane experiencing severe vibrations...Repeat: GO ON OXYGEN!" This was the last radio communication heard given by the pilot to his crew of 19. The huge RC-135 Reconnaissance plane had left Shemya Island in the Aleutians at 8:00 A.M., June 5, only 39 minutes earlier. Their 12:00 noon destination was to be Eielson Air Force Base, near Fairbanks, Alaska. But the radio went dead, and nothing else has been heard to this very day. The plane was heavily loaded with enough fuel for 3« more hours of flight, so it is the theory of persons in command that the terribly heavy plane simply sank beneath the icy Bering Sea, after failure to correct mechanical failure. Within minutes after their distress signals, the Coast Guard Air-Sea Rescue coordinated with Air Force rescue search parties in an extremely extensive 8 day search. It resulted in finding absolutely nothing...no life rafts...no life vests...no wreckage...absolutely nothing.
Immediately after next-of-kin had been notified, Walter Cronkite called the Base Commander for information for his evening television newscast; radios blared the news only minutes later, and the local newspapers screamed the headlines: "19 MEN ABOARD AIR FORCE RECON PLANE LOST AT SEA"...
But, although this ends their news stories, MY story does not end with my husband's plane on the bottom of the sea. Although these are tragic headlines, indeed, on earth, one can just imagine how different were the victorious headlines in Heaven: This day, June 5, 1969, at 8:39 A.M. Rudy Meissner, Jr., faithful servant of the Lord, joined his beloved JESUS. He was soon surrounded by those who went on before, in Glorious Reunion.
Yes, Rudy always said that when "God's time came to call you to your real HOME, the means He chose didn't matter." He also said that when he went to live with his Jesus that he didn't want those left behind to mourn for him, but to rejoice instead, because of the assurance he had from God's Word that "to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord." (2 Cor. 5:8).
Rudy tried to live each day on earth as though it were his last. His devotion to his loved ones was unfailing, but his life's goal was: "According to my earnest expectation, and my hope, that in NOTHING, I shall be ashamed, but that with all BOLDNESS, as always, so no also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death...FOR ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AND TO DIE IS GAIN." His ministry spread far and wide, and the urgency of his message was prompted by Jesus' own words: "I must word the works of HIM that sent me, while it is yet day: the night cometh when no man can work." Once I fund this scribbled in his notes: "Only one life--'twill soon be past-- only what's done for Christ will last." He believed this so strongly.
One time when he was promoted, someone kidded him about being on his way to becoming a general. He said, "Na, MAJOR is far as I care to go," not really realizing the this was already God's ultimate plan for him.
When he was promoted to Major this past December, instead of passing out the traditional cigars, he filled a cigar box with New Testaments, and passed them out to many who accepted them. Mankind, frantic with holiday panic, was in its usual pre-Christmas madness. Rudy said, "Go home and read this, and find out what Christmas is really all about."
While perusing an old notebook of Rudy's today, I found the notes from a sermon he gave quite some time age, entitled "Dead or Alive?" He went on to say that before he made his Savior the Lord and Master of his life, he was really only "half-alive." And he used this verse: "HE that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, has everlasting live, and shall not come into condemnation; BUT IS PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE." (John 5:24). He also had written down this verse: "AND WHOSOEVER LIVETH AND BELIEVETH IN BE SHALL NEVER DIE." (John 11:26).
Ironically enough, (on Janni's birthday,) he preached here at the evening service April 13. The title of his sermon: THE RESURRECTION. Later he sang a solo at the evening service Stanphill's FOLLOW ME. Some of the words: "But now we'll make the journey with your hand safe in mine, so lift your cross and follow close to me."...."Oh, Jesus, if by death to living they can Thy glory see, I'll take my cross and follow close to Thee." The words seemed prophetic enough.
April 17 as he sat next to me at Weekly Bible Study, the Lord revealed to me in a strange vision that my family would reduced to 3 in number, but it was not revealed who it would be. I felt such terrible depression and great sadness that I could not shake myself out of it. I asked Rudy to get a ride home and I left early. When I was alone I reconciled it to God, and just asked Him to simply help me to be spiritually prepared when the time came. I didn't dare believe how much He would honor and answer this prayer until I answered the door June 5. The Chaplain, a squadron representative, and 2 of my best friends stood there solemnly, and I knew instantly which one in my family God had taken, but praise God--in His infinite mercy He had somehow prepared my heart, and I was able to instantly accept his will, for I believe, without a doubt, "that this is the will of God concerning ME." And I also know, "beyond the shadow of a doubt" that God, in His own omnipotence, NEVER MAKES A MISTAKE.
That same evening I prayed for strength to tell the children, but is was they who imparted their strength to me. Kristi tearfully prayed "Dear Lord Jesus, if you have a job for our daddy in Heaven, it's all right with us, but if you want to rescue him and bring him back to us, we'd appreciate it. But, dear Lord, it's just all up to you."
Then, (more recently) she asked God "to please help Mother get ready to move, and be her Guide now, because her husband used to be her Guide, but now that she doesn't have a husband she'll need You, more than ever, to be her Guide."
Yes, our dear, precious Kristi, and all you dear ones who love our Rudy so dearly, God has always been this whole family's Guide, He still is being our Guide every single passing day, therefore we KNOW He will still ALWAYS be our Guide, forever and ever. "Even so, COME, LORD JESUS."
June 24, 1969
Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska
(Luci Meissner, Rudy's wife)
Alone with HIM,
I lose my sin,
Filled with HIM,
I begin again.
Walking with HIM
I strive to win
VICTORY with HIM,
And peace within,
Lose sight of HIM
I sin again,
But alone with HIM
I lose my sin...
(Written by Rudy on Shemya, 1969.)
~ Temptation ~
Temptation like an ugly claw,
Stretches forth his evil flaw;
Ripping, tearing, pausing to lurk,
Grimly, swiftly, he begins to work.
Intent to spoil, with rotten breath,
And lead the soul to certain death.
Satan vies with the Master Power
To make earth's children bow and cower.
Deceitfully dressed: innocent robes of white,
Beneath the mask, weapons of the night,
His only rules, the foulest blow...
Given the stage, he steals the show.
The battle rages, strong and fierce;
Satan's darts the heart will pierce;
Desolate, twisted, erring ways:
At Satan's power, the heart dismays.
But, is there hope? Can we win?
Against temptation? Against sin?
Our own strength is much too small,
Alone...we're doomed to certain fall...
But in CHRIST, with faith our shield,
To Him only must we yield...
His righteousness our armor plate
Deflects the evil, breaks the weight;
His love transcends all human bounds,
His peace within the heart resounds!
His Words, and victory's flat unfurled...
"Fear not! I've overcome the world."
that was published in "The Westmont College Magazine" (Fall 2003).