CHAP6 A Bigger Picture Emerges

    It has literally taken years, and I must admit that I was shocked to learn through my research that the lives of Christians who lived long ago would now have so much life saving influence on my unit's current predicament as we headed out to do a gigantic sweep north of Saigon toward the Cambodian border. The dark cloud of hopeless despair hanging over the unit was about to dissipate. It was a miracle but one that I would not recognize as being a miracle until years later. I finally learned about it through personal accounts and some remarkably accurate historical documentations. It is a bigger picture than I ever expected to find. This bigger story is actually a story within a story, exemplifying how life and hope can be made to blossom by God in the midst of certain death and despair. It also shows us how God starts working on a problem long before there is any hint whatsoever that there is a problem. I believe that the story of the 1/18th Infantry Battalion is just one example of this truth. This story within a story comes to us through the legacy left behind by two remarkable people, one unbeliever named Richard King and his wife, a remarkable believer named Henrietta Chamberlain King.

    As astounding as it may sound, our next battalion commander, was the product of this great legacy, a legacy which helped shape his soul, empowering him to be able to transform the 1/18th Infantry Battalion from one of the most ill prepared line units into "the most highly acclaimed battalion in the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam". Those are not my words but the words of Brig. Gen. James Shelton, who was in 1st Infantry Division G3 operations planning at the time. In this position Shelton would have been able to witness the performance of every battalion commander in the division which gives a high degree of credibility to that statement. This story within a story is proof that God intervenes in the affairs of mankind, but not the way most humans think. I have already given the reader two personal examples of God’s intervention to save my life and the men around me. One was where He warned me about the impending mortar attack and the second was when the girls at the bus stop called out a warning to us, as we mindlessly drove by them on a joy ride. However, this next intervention was one which God had been preparing for a long, long time, even before our next commander was born. It came in the form of a legacy which had been started by Richard King but preserved over time through a series of decisive and godly actions taken by Henrietta after Richard died. Her actions turned an earthly legacy into an eternal legacy. Her actions are also proof that God can and does magnify the affects which a believer has on the rest of the world according to His will, on into eternity. Here is "the rub". This spiritual dynamic only takes place in the lives of believers who are not ashamed of the good news of Christ Jesus and Henrietta was certainly a person who was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because she wasn't ashamed, we men of the 1/18th were now about to become beneficiaries of this woman's supernatural faith in Christ. As I have already said, but bares repeating, her works of faith had now become embodied in the nature and character of our new battalion commander, Richard Cavazos.

    The year was 1850. The town was Brownsville.17 year old Etta was living in an old worn out river boat which was docked on the banks of the Rio Grande River with her father, her stepmother and three smaller brothers. The rancid smelly residue of animal skins and sorghum molasses had been scrubbed away enough with lye soap from the decks of the old steamboat “Whiteville” to be tolerable smelling enough for its new tenants to carry on their daily activities without gagging. The Chamberlain family had just moved there from Tennessee, and Etta’s father, Hiram had rented this dilapidated riverboat because he had been unable to find suitable quarters in town. The boat not only served as a floating residence for the reverend and his large family but it also served as a church meeting place which quickly became the beginnings of the first protestant church in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Though they had moved from Tennessee, Hiram was not from Tennessee. He was from Vermont and he and his family were certainly no strangers to frequent moves in a time when most people lived and died within a fifty mile radius of where they were born. Hiram had been born into a family of Presbyterians whose faith in Christ has been described by some historians as an “intense religiosity”. Many times that is used as a satanic “spin phrase” to describe those Christians who diligently seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in much of everything they do in life. Hiram was a missionary at heart and had been a pastor to many people in places throughout Missouri and Tennessee but the greatest thing he would ever do for Richard Cavazos, me, or the men who served with me in the 1/18th Infantry Battalion, was to be a great father to his daughter, Henrietta.

    You see, Etta had lost her mother at the age of three and shortly after that traumatic experience she had also lost her first stepmother. This could have been enough to send this young girl’s soul into a tailspin except for two things. Number one, even in the extremely lonely times after her mother’s death, Etta had allowed the Holy Spirit to develop in her a deep and abiding love for Christ. Secondly, she had also been the beneficiary of a bedrock love coming from her father. Hiram never failed to encourage his daughter’s relationship with Christ and his bold approach to furthering Etta’s schooling is a major example of his love in action. When she turned fourteen, though they lived in Missouri at the time, he sent Etta to a girl’s school in Holly Cross, Mississippi. This was a very rare step for a father to take during this period in American history and just one more proof of the strong functional love Hiram had for Etta. It was these two loving relationships working in tandem which built an incredibly strong foundation in Etta’s soul. That foundation allowed her to blossom into the life giving force which would later richly bless many down trodden people of the Rio Grande Valley as well as the Cavazos family. In turn that blessing would reach the men of the 1/18th Infantry Battalion more than a century later.

    Bear with me as I slow down here and connect some dots. It was a sunlit February day in Brownsville. Etta busied herself on the decks of the "ole" "Whiteville" with routine activities of the day. I am sure Etta’s willowy shape, exquisitely chiseled facial features as well as her sparkling brown eyes caught the eye of almost every young man who had occasion to be on the docks that day. Most, however, would just look and marvel and that would be that. Why? Because her attractiveness was more than physical and that “more” part could also be quite intimidating. In her was a bold spiritual magnificence, which at first glance could stop carnal souls cold in their tracks and most, if not all the young men on these docks were carnal. As a matter of fact, on this fine February day, one more of that sort of carnal being was coming around a downstream river bend at this very instant, but unlike those other carnal souls, he would quickly announce his presence in "no uncertain terms" whatsoever.

    The river itself is not much more than 100 feet across and is the dividing line between the Unites States and Mexico. In my mind’s eye it’s easy to imagine Etta stopping her chores and joining her younger siblings along with some of the other renters on the “Whiteville” to gaze at an approaching riverboat slowly making its way upstream. Any newcomers to the area, including the Chamberlain family, would have wanted not to miss the sight of another riverboat as it passed by. Maybe it would dock beside them bringing new faces to their world. That would be even better. Now that the war with Mexico had ended there were just not that many of these big monsters traveling up and down this river anymore. Long gone were the two American armies which needed to be resupplied by them. Yes sir, they were quite the sight for the average person of that era and most had now stopped what they were doing entirely because this one was definitely trying to dock. As it came closer and closer, the distinctive slap, slap, slap sound of its paddle boards hitting the water got louder and louder causing more heads to turn and look that way. However, as it approached the landing, suddenly the big wheel stopped and the bow turned slightly starboard toward the docks. The wheel then reversed itself. River current caught the bow and pushed it further starboard. The big paddle now reversed itself again pushing the boat forward. Obviously its pilot was struggling to run the narrow gap between the “Whiteville” on its starboard side and the dock on its port side. Men were now waiting on the docks to catch the big mooring lines thrown to them by several men on the boat. The space occupied by the “Whiteville” created a very narrow passage indeed for the twenty five year old captain and owner of the “Colonel Cross” who was also its pilot. However, he made the tight squeeze without ramming into the “Whiteville on his right or the end of the docks on the left.

    Now that the threat of a damaging collision was over, Captain Richard King could “vent the boilers” and I am not talking about the boilers on the “Colonel Cross”. I am talking about the volatile boilers of his own soul. You see, young Captain King was a perfectionist through and through. That was the one human trait which he valued the most. Like every perfectionist, he was convinced that the pursuit of perfection would eventually fill the sink hole inside him which had been expanded greatly when he was abandoned by his poverty stricken parents at the age of nine. He believed that striving to do a thing perfectly was the one thing which would allow him to survive in what had proven to be a very hostile world for him at such an early age. For Richard, the pursuit of perfection was a very good thing. It had curried the favor of those who could make his life easier and it was responsible for taking him from being a stow-a-way to cabin boy and from being a cabin boy to a river boat pilot and finally from a pilot to a river boat captain and then the owner of the boat. Like all satanic lies the belief that success in life can be achieved by working hard to do everything just a little bit better is partly true, but only partly. Now, Richard was about to exhibit in a no uncertain manner the frustration that comes to a perfectionist when he crosses paths with imperfection. You see, perfectionists expect everyone else to be perfect too. When that doesn’t happen a perfectionist can get very mad and Richard was now as mad as mad can be. Whoever parked the “Whiteville” in his way was not perfect or they would have moored the boat in another spot to give more room for other boats to dock. That’s what he would have done and that’s what Richard was thinking should have been done, in a perfect world.

    His angry spirit now rose within him like an obedient servant. His face flushed and his big burly hands turned white as he grasped the side rails on the deck beside the wheelhouse. He bent slightly forward looking directly at the “Whiteville” as if it were a person, before he “let fly”. Out it came. It was a string of the same cursing comments, spewing forth, which had been used on the waterways of America for years and which I am sure are still being used today. Isn’t it strange how those “curse words” never change? As his loud barrage blasted verbal shrapnel across the decks of the “Ole Whiteville”, no one on the “Whiteville” dared to answer back or even to look his way. It’s not beyond the realm of possibilities to imagine some mothering souls grasping their children and leading them into the interior of the "ole Whiteville" in a desperate attempt to shield them from such language. At this point, however, there was one person on the old steamboat who was not willing to ignore such a public display of vile behavior and she certainly wasn't going to run from it. Etta’s eyes flashed as the first vulgar rantings from Richard’s booming voice struck her ears. Yet, as others cowered before this disgusting display of filthy bellowing, she immediately took action. In my imagination, I can still see Etta running from the afterdeck to a spot on the “Whiteville’s midsection and then stopping directly across from the "cussin" captain as she initiated her "one woman" counterattack. Standing straight with hands on hips, I see her immediately delivering a salvo of well-chosen words, while looking directly into the captain’s eyes. Those few piercing words, whatever they were, spoken in grammatically perfect English and delivered in the tone and phrasing of a rebuking angel instantly penetrated the very core of Richard’s black heart. It was as though he had been struck by the hand of God and Richard King’s life would never be the same again while in the presence of the woman who now stood before him. Humbled, he stood silent. What could he say? He just gazed into the young woman’s eyes for an instant before turning away, as a strange sensation of calmness came over him, defying all human logic. Then, like an enraged beast which had just been calmed by the voice of its master, he simply faded away from the young woman's view and maneuvered behind some stacked cargo crates to hide in the shadows on the other side of the wheelhouse. This was the first meeting of “the beauty and the beast” and it was a meeting which would have enormous consequences for myself and the men of the 1/18th Infantry Battalion. Also just like in the story of “The Beauty and The Beast” Richard instantly fell madly in love with Etta.

    Needless to say, Richard couldn’t hide his feelings from his good Christian friend Mifflin Kenedy. Those feelings came oozing out while discussing an important business opportunity. As the business conversation took a pause, Richard nonchalantly started "pumping" Mifflin for more information about the new minister's family in town, while at the same time trying to disguise his true intentions for asking. It was no use. Mifflin was no body's fool. He knew almost as soon as Richard opened his mouth that his young friend had been smitten, especially when he inquired about the Reverend's daughter. Mifflin knew almost everyone in Brownsville and he had already met the Chamberlain family. He soon afterward introduced Richard to Etta on the streets of Brownville but he also did something else which was very important. He coached this “rough as a cob” riverboat captain on how to proceed on a course of action to get to know Henrietta better. Richard’s pierced heart had no choice but to heed Mifflin’s suggestions. One of those suggestions meant that Hiram Chamberlain’s church meetings would be occasionally attended, by a rough looking, rough talking and awkwardly un-churched young river boat captain who had one thing on his mind each time he darkened the church doors and it had nothing to do with improving his relationship with the God of the universe. Somehow, some way, he had to make Etta his wife. It took four years but he did it and I must admit that I can become a little judgmental of Etta’s choice of husbands here, especially since the apostle Paul advised Christians to not become unequally yoked. However, as I review the outcome of this particular marriage and the positive impact it had on other people’s lives including my own, I find it necessary to remind myself that Paul also said that all things work together for good to those who love God and who are called according to his purpose. Etta definitely loved God and I also believe she was called according to God’s purposes. On the other hand, if Christianity were a crime there simply would not be enough evidence to convict Richard of that crime.

    One of those “things which God worked for good” through Richard, as Etta became an increasingly greater and greater stabilizing influence in his life was to bring into being and then start to shape a piece of earth into one of the largest ranches in the world. It would be a piece of ground which would bring hope to many downtrodden families who otherwise would have spent their lives in a state of hopelessness. Our new commander, Richard Cavazos, had grown up in one of those families. This ranch legacy would be created by Richard King's raw drive as it became more and more united with and tempered by the faith buried deep within his Holly Spirit led wife, Etta. I realize this is a bold statement but nevertheless it is a statement supported by the evidence I found in a very detailed two volume history of the King Ranch written by a man named Tom Lea in 1957.

    Like many people, for so many years, circumstances and fear dominated almost every major move Richard made in life and yet he was one of the roughest, toughest hombres to ever come down the pike. As I have touched on already, his emigrant parents, while trying to scratch out a living in New York apprenticed him to a New York Jeweler at the age of nine. The resulting abandonment issues caused by that separation plagued Richard for life. Since he had been thrown off a cliff by his parents this first time it became much easier for him to jump off the next cliff all by himself. He made this jump at the age of eleven and ran from the jeweler. He became a stow-a-way on the Yankee Schooner “Desdemona”. He was discovered, but his demeanor even at this young age impressed the captain enough for that captain to arrange for him to go to work for a riverboat captain working the Gulf Coast. He was a fugitive of sorts who could have been returned to the jeweler in short order if he had fell into the wrong hands but that didn’t happen. That riverboat captain was also impressed by Richard’s honest character, hardworking nature and intelligence. He was so much impressed that he unselfishly arranged for him to go to work for another friend of his. He did this, perhaps, because he thought he would be better able to mentor the youngster. He was right. Captain Holland was the man’s name and he was an educated Connecticut man who taught Richard to read and write. This man treated Richard more like a son than a deckhand. When Richard was in his mid-teens Captain Holland sent him to live with his two elder sisters in Connecticut. There, he got some formal schooling but although he did well in school after only eight months Richard was ready to make another jump. I strongly suspect that one of the underlying reasons for him abruptly “jumping ship” on the sisters was the fear of being discovered as a runaway apprentice. Connecticut was very close to New York and the jeweler he ran away from.

    By the time he ran away this second time, Richard had learned that working a riverboat, not only provided a sheltered environment of sorts for a boy like him but also provided security from being caught and sent back to the jeweler. A riverboat was isolated from the general public for days at a time, never staying in one location very long. At the same time knowing that he always had a hot meal and a bed to sleep in, had to be very comforting. He also got paid, not much, but a little. How many boys his age could find a way to earn steady wages? To a very intelligent adolescent who had been abandoned by his parents at such an early age, riverboat life had to be comfortable, safe and liberating. It was a “no brainer” for a brawny quick witted kid like Richard. Shortly after leaving the sisters, he found work as a deckhand on Captain Henry Penny’s boat in Florida during the Seminole Indian Wars. He spent the rest of his teen years working these Florida Rivers. He worked his way up the latter to become a pilot in his early twenties which was no small feat. An achievement like that obviously required a person to have a much better than average memory to be able to remember sandbars, currents and obstructions dotting the long stretches of river. It also required someone with an uncanny attention to detail. Also, to possess the wherewithal to successfully navigate the social order as well as the technical operations of riverboat life and emerge at the top of the pecking order speaks volumes about Richard’s intellect and ability to adapt. It was the anointed Quaker Mifflin Kenedy who was responsible for Richard moving to Texas in the first place. Richard and Mifflin had met when Mifflin was captain of the riverboat “Champion” in Florida and Richard was the boat’s pilot. Later, Mifflin, while following up on the “Champion’s” repairs in Pittsburg was offered a job by the Army Quarter Master to become Captain of the riverboat “Corvette” which was being built at that time in Pittsburg while Mifflin was getting repairs for the “Champion”. Mifflin quickly accepted the job and then took the “Corvette” to Texas to begin carrying supplies and troops up and down the Rio Grande River for the Army during the war with Mexico. Not long afterward Mifflin wrote for Richard to join him as his pilot. Richard accepted the offer and that’s how Richard wound up in Texas. When Godly legacies are being built there is always a Christian working behind the scenes in the woodwork somewhere.

    Up until that February day in 1850 when Richard looked into Henrietta’s eyes for the first time he was actually floundering financially, yet he was working harder than ever. To survive after losing his job as Captain of the “Colonel Cross” at war’s end, he had been running a flop house for mostly drunkards, while waiting on the government sale of the well-worn surplus riverboats to be announced. These were being disposed of because the war with Mexico had ended. Finally, the government auction came through in April of 1849. He purchased the “Colonel Cross” which originally cost the government $14,000 for only $750 from earnings he had saved while he was her captain. This seemed like just the kind of big break Richard needed. There is little doubt that he was the most skilled Captain and pilot on the Rio Grande but all that made little difference. Within his own strength he was now faced with having to build a business which could withstand the test of time and that was not going to happen through his efforts alone. He had always relied on his own hard work and keen mind to pull him through. This time his hard work would not be enough. This time Richard needed a miracle and in this church age, other than salvation, miracles only happen for the people of this fallen world through the anointing of God's people. The river freight business had shrunk considerably. By the time he met Henrietta in February of the next year he was barely scratching out a living. Financially, he was slowly sinking into the abyss and his boat was wearing out. To put it bluntly, Richard had now reached the most desolate time of his entire life and yet he was about to become a major part of a legacy too grand for his carnal mind to grasp. God was about to use Richard in the raising up of a standard against the most evil ideology ever conceived by mankind. Its progenitor, Karl Marx, had barely finished his work of death, the "Communist Manifesto" the previous year before Richard bought his steamboat but "here, here", I am getting way ahead of myself.  

    The good news is this. The word of God working through God's people brings life to desolate places as well as desolate souls. I know, because I have experienced that transformation. As I sat in that compound getting to know the new guys in my squad and waiting to receive orders to saddle up and start walking north, I was about as desolate inside my mind as any Christian can be, but inside my spirit I was and still am "wall to wall" Holy Ghost. This wasn't the case with Richard. He could reflect the light but he could not be the light. Now, years later, because God has brought life through my spirit to those desolate places of my mind, it’s easier for me to recognize the desolation which grips others as well as our nation, itself. Although Richard died many years before I was born, the amazingly detailed historical facts presented by Tom Lea make it easy for me to identify that moment in time which was the most desolate for Richard and it was not when he ran away from the jeweler to become a stow-a-way on the “Desdemona”, as some may think. “Oh no”! I believe it was that period of his life just before he first laid eyes on Etta. I believe his deepest decent into those most desolate places of his own soul was when he stood there that day cussing at the “ole” riverboat “Whiteville” for being in his way. At that moment he had succumb to a hopelessness of mind which was taking him down a very desolate path. He was fighting the river for a living in a broken down old riverboat and the river was winning. Left to his own devises the river would have won. If the river had won there would have been no King ranch. No ranch, no legacy to affect the outcome of the 1/18th infantry years later. Make no mistake. Richard was about to be changed from a looser to a winner. But why? The answer is this. The winning did not start until he met Henrietta because his ability to start winning at life did not come through him. It came through Henrietta and her God. From the very moment he met her, his life changed remarkably for the better. “Yes sir”, as he stood on the "Colonel Cross" that day, ranting like a mad man, Henrietta and the others were not just hearing the ranting of an angry man. Instead, they were listening to the cries of a hopeless young man who was trapped in the most desolate depths of his own soul. But something else was also happening on that February day in 1850 as Richard “God damned” this and he “God damned” that, “The Lord of All” was watching and He knew the end from the beginning. He knew the desolation of Richard’s soul. “The Lord of All” also saw the agony of being abandoned by his mother and father and the crushed soul which that abandonment had produced. God saw what lay underneath Richard’s festered scares. God also saw the future and knew Richard’s mind. God loved Richard. God knew that sadly, cussing and fist fighting his way through life, instead of choosing a healing relationship with Him would always be Richard’s way of dealing with things. Yet, as meager as it was, Richard had found a way to defuse his anger, before that anger turned to bitterness. Believe it or not, God can work in a limited way with someone like that, not in an eternal way, but in a natural way. You see, it is bitterness, not anger, which chokes out one’s ability to feel compassion for others and leaves little room for God to work. However, for all his volatility, all his life, God knew that Richard would never become bitter and thus never lose his ability to feel natural love for others. All his life he loved Etta. All his life he loved his family. All his life he loved his friends. All his life he loved the people who tended to his ranch and “let me tell ya” loving others is a close second to loving God. God also knew something else about Richard. He knew Richard would reject Him for the rest of his life and instead choose to dwell in hell for all eternity. If only he could have taken God up on the offer He makes to every human being who has ever lived. However, I don’t believe he ever did. Yet, God did rescue him from that present death spiral as he stood there "cussin" that day, albeit temporary and not eternal. The rescue was facilitated by a Quaker Christian, a missionary family and Richard's soon to be wife, whom he would affectionately call Etta for the rest of his life. 

    No, overcoming bitterness and loving others did not save Richard for eternity. Only confessing Christ Jesus as Lord of all will do that. However, for a time, the unbelieving Richard was able to reflect God's light when he was in its presence and that has great merit for both believer and unbeliever. As I write this, there are tremendous numbers of accomplished and loving people, like Richard, sitting in offices in Silicon Valley and across this nation who are good reflections of God's light, just like Richard was. The great King Ranch legacy was established in part because Richard was able to become a good reflector of light as evidenced by his love for others and his ability to not become bitter. However, that would not be enough. If there had not been believers to light the way for Richard, he would have "crashed and burned" just as many caring and loving people in today's world are stumbling around in the dark only to "crash and burn" at some point. Why? Because they will eventually become so tarnished by the circumstances of this world that they will no longer be able to reflect the light generated by God's people in the first place. As I write this it is happening more and more.     

    Amazingly, in February, 1850 big miracles began to happen which benefited Richard greatly. Why? Because his youthful soul was still largely untarnished and he had just entered into the presence of a powerful light in Christ, when he entered into a friendship with the Chamberlain family. Today, many very remarkable and accomplished souls in this generation are experiencing that same dynamic at work in their own lives during this very tumultuous time in America.   

    God used Mifflin again to start the ball rolling for the rebellious Richard King. He approached Richard with a business opportunity. Competition was stiff on the Rio Grande River at this time for the riverboat business. Even one of the area’s richest merchants, Charles Stillman, who owned several boats was feeling the pain. After the war ended Mifflin had actually gotten off the river entirely and was trying his hand at land speculation which wasn’t going so well either. To aggravate the business climate even more, many young Americans who normally would have been bringing their new blood to this American Frontier were bypassing Texas altogether and heading to the gold fields in California. Then it happened and it happened in a way that can only happen through God’s divine intervention. Stillman ask Mifflin to join him as a partner in his riverboat business, hoping that by joining forces with the knowledgeable Captain Kenedy he could turn the riverboat part of his business dealings around and start making money again. Mifflin’s stellar reputation must have preceded him, for Stillman to approach him with such an offer. Mifflin agreed, under one condition. That condition was that Stillman would also include his good friend Richard King as a partner in the deal. Mifflin’s innate understanding of the riverboat business was remarkable. He realized that his rough neck perfectionist friend was just the kind of person needed to ramrod the "day to day" operations with him. He also knew he couldn’t handle the business operations on that large expanse of river by himself. He needed another person he could trust and that was Richard. Stillman agreed, so Mifflin approached Richard with the proposition and Richard accepted under one condition which was a big one.

    During the war Richard had fought this river with riverboats that were designed for rivers back east, not the Rio Grande. They were underpowered and also were prone to running aground in the swallow waters upstream of Brownsville. To keep this from happening cargo would have to be off loaded and hauled further overland causing the costs of hauling freight to skyrocket. Richard was emphatic in his response to Mifflin’s offer. As a Rio Grande River pilot who had attended the river’s school of hard knocks for some time now and a perfectionist to boot he would not consider taking on a venture like this by doing things the same old way. He then gave Mifflin his critical assessment of what he knew needed to happen if this business venture was to have any chance of success. It was a very tall order. They would need a much sturdier, swallower draft riverboat so it could go further upriver into swallow water and it needed a more powerful steam engine to buck the strong river currents. To make matters worse this would only solve half the problem. To solve the other half of the problem, they would need another boat with a much different design to brave the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. That boat would be used to relay cargo from the sailing ships at the Port of Brazos Santiago on the Gulf of Mexico to a terminal about 15 miles upriver at a place called White Ranch.

    Two boats like these would cost a large sum of money. It would be more money than Mifflin or Richard had seen in their entire lives. However, it was exactly what was needed and Richard was adamant about it. Fortunately they had a partner in Charles Stillman who was the business shark of his day. He agreed to provide the financing to build both riverboats. The order and timing of these events were not just coincidence or good luck. They were the divine intervention of God and when God intervenes it always has consequences which reach much further into the future than anything we can imagine. The timing also coincided exactly with Richard meeting the Chamberlain family for the first time. The partnership was formed and Mifflin followed the construction at the Pittsburg Shipyard while Richard stayed behind to oversee the day to day business. He also attended the church in Brownsville every chance he got just to get to know Henrietta and her family better. And, oh yes, he probably got involved in one or two fist fights while doing some heavy drinking on the side just to let off steam.

    During this next four year period while Richard forced himself to tread very uncomfortable territory, to win the hand of Etta, his fortunes in the South Texas business arena soared to a completely new level, through his partnership with Stillman and his friend Mifflin. In just a short time the company monopolized the steamboat business on the Rio Grande River. With this new level of business success, his personal standing in the area was elevated to new heights which few men cut from his mold would ever have the opportunity to experience. The respect he garnered on both sides of the Rio Grande also grew exponentially. Here is the short of why that happened. You see, every important “shaker and mover” in the area would have an occasion at some point to come in contact or at least know of the young Captain of the shiny new riverboat “Grampus” and these were not just white Americans but influential Mexicans also. The border was a cauldron of mixed races with passions which suited a man like King well. He was now in his prime. He would never be more fit or better looking or smarter than at this moment in his life. Adversities from childhood until now had shaped him into the almost perfect prototype of a man to fit the mold which was now beginning to shape his future. During this period he kept moving up and down the Rio Grande River which allowed him to make acquaintances with all types of people. He got to know soldiers, Mexican revolutionaries, Mexican and American merchants, politicians, lawyers and Texas Rangers, just to name a few. He also developed a strong connection to a host of working class people who hauled freight, built warehouses, worked as deckhands and as laborers, doing everything from loading his freight to keeping the woodpiles stacked high with the mesquite wood necessary to fire his boilers on the “Grampus” and the “Comanche”. Most everyone who took the time to get to know him found it easy to connect with him, probably because they were drawn to his raw honesty, hard working attitude, hard drinking as well as his occasional bare knuckles displays of those pent up emotions which I have already mentioned. A broad spectrum of people including many a “down and outer” could easily come to respect and even admire a man like Richard King.

    Mifflin got married before Richard. He fell in love and married a 26 year old Mexican beauty and widow with five children from Mier, Mexico on April 16th 1852. Mifflin was a believer but the passions often expressed by the phrase “falling in love” affects believers and non-believers alike and that’s all I have to say about that. In May of that same year there was a state fair in Corpus Christi which was around 165 miles north of Brownsville. Richard had been invited by its promoter, Henry Kinney to attend and he did, but getting there presented him with a real problem which he had yet to face. Since he had been in Texas he had done little exploring beyond the river banks of the Rio Grande and for two good reasons. For one he had been too busy keeping the “Colonel Cross” afloat until very recently when the partnership was formed. The other reason for not exploring the region located North of Brownsville was because of the danger associated with doing so. It was a stretch of grass land and mesquite trees as wild and dangerous as anywhere in the entire American Frontier. It was known generally as the “Wild Horse Desert” although it wasn’t what most would think of as being a typical desert. It had springs and running streams if you knew where to find them, and also a lot of seasonal creeks. Wild game abounded as well as wild horses. It also had and still does have some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the entire world which were accented then and now with the sound of cooing doves and yelping coyotes. In1852, although a person with a frontiersmen’s skillsets would have had little problem traversing this landscape, it would have been a very dangerous, if not suicidal undertaking, for a sheltered newcomer, like Richard King to go it alone. The skillset required to stay alive in the Wild Horse Desert, without a doubt was a somewhat unique. Those men who rode as Texas Rangers were probably the very best examples of men who had these skills. That’s exactly why Richard did what he did next because for all his bravado, Richard was not one to take needless changes with his own personal well-being. Crossing this land by himself or with another "tenderfoot" would have been “fool-hardy”. Richard “buddied up” with a Texan Ranger named Gideon Lewis who made the trip with him. More than likely he had met Gideon sometime earlier, possibly hauling supplies upstream for the ranger outpost at Lake Tampaquas.

    Despite their vastly different skills for making a living, these two traveling companions had one thing in common. The pride of life was beginning to sink its talons into both of them as it often does with all young people who have no interest in building a relationship with God. At this point it was gaining a much more deadly grasp on Gideon, however, than Richard. Here is the reason for that. Richard’s source of pride and self-respect was being built up by the trappings of a successful steamboat business, which provided a service to others. He was also making headway in his courtship of a very Godly woman named Henrietta Chamberlain. Richard’s business served others and serving others always mitigates the destructive effects caused by the pride of life. Gideon’s pride of life, on the other hand, was being fed by much more destructive endeavors. He was a recognized war hero. He also garnered automatic respect and power over others through the authority he carried as a captain in the Texas rangers. He was also drawn to politics as well as other men’s wives, which soon get him killed by a jealous husband. Nevertheless at this stage both men were in their prime, headstrong and about the same age which made them very good traveling companions. Since Gideon had been a courier during the Mexican War and had been promoted to captain of the rangers after the war, he no doubt had extensive knowledge on how to best survive while traveling through the Wild Horse Desert to get to the Lone Star Fair.

    I mention this trip to the state fair here because it was during this trip that Richard was able to see the land he would soon purchase which was to become the beginnings of the world famous King Ranch. It was located on probably the best piece of ground along the 165 mile stretch between Brownsville and Corpus Christi on a creek known as the Santa Gertrudis. It was a 15,500 acre tract of land which Richard bought from the Mendiola family for $300 dollars. He received a warranty deed for it in July of 1853. This obviously wasn’t a lot of money for him to come up with but he still brought Gideon into the deal as a half partner. He probably did this more because Gideon had experience buying and selling land in the area which gave him the skills to pursue a venture like this. He also had connections with the tough breed of men it would take to work as cow hands on the cow camp which they planned to establish in a very dangerous place. 

    Fortunately, the Holy Spirit has given me just a glimpse into that bigger picture here and I will say this. God’s domino trail leading to the 1/18th Infantry was falling fast and furious in the years between February 1850 and 1855. The first domino was when Richard first looked into Henrietta’s eyes on the boat docks in Brownsville in February of 1850. If the “ole” Riverboat “Whiteville” had not been tied up in the wrong spot he may not have met Henrietta. Without Mifflin's introduction to Stillman and the enormous capital supplied by Stillman there would have been no Kenedy & Co. riverboat business to fund the startup of the ranch. Without the state fair in Corpus in 1852 there may have been no motivation to buy the land in the first place. Without Gideon's expertise in not only knowing how to provide security for the cow camp but also the knowledge to aid in the purchase of lands, there may have been no ranch. Here is why this is true. They had to first find and then travel through very dangerous country in the next few years to locate the owners of large tracts of land which they added to their original purchase. Acquiring clear titles was not easy. These large tracts were tied up in Spanish Land Grants which had been passed down and sometimes divided up amongst several generations of heirs. The legal entanglements required a lot of time, patience and forethought to unravel. Many of the land owners were citizens living in Mexico.

    Once the hard part of acquiring legal ownership of the land was done, next came the impossible part. I say impossible because the dominos to bridge this gap had not been created in the first place. Here’s what I am talking about. The agrarian model which worked so well for large plantations back east would never work here on the Wild Horse Desert for two major reasons. Number one was frequent droughts. There were vast grasslands but it was not good farm land, because of the inconsistent supply of water. There were many seasonal creeks but few ran year-round. The second reason was the lack of a dedicated work force. Back east this was provided by the institution of slavery.

    There was also a third reason why the Wild Horse Desert was untenable. During this period in Texas history, anyone who crossed the Wild Horse Desert without an armed guard was very foolish. Trying to live there permanently was not only foolish but “down right” crazy. Centuries before, the Spanish had actually developed the concept of ranching in this very area and great herds of tough Spanish cattle as well as thousands of wild horses roamed free in the area at that time. Large walled ranchos owned by Mexican ranchers dotted the landscape and these land owners who owned very large herds of cattle and horses employed hundreds of vaqueros to manage the livestock. Beautiful ranchos existed here even before the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. However, when Texas won its freedom from Mexico in 1836 the last of those ranchos disappeared. Why? Because gangs of cutthroats called “cowboys” from north of the Nueces River regularly raided the Wild Horse Desert driving the cattle north for profit and killing anyone whom they saw fit to kill. By the time Richard started buying land, the cattle which once roamed the Wild Horse Desert were gone and so were the ranchos and so were the settlers. When Richard traveled through it in 1852 it was very beautiful, but it was also dangerous and as desolate of law abiding human life as desolate can be.

    However, during his courtship of Etta, Richard had not only completed some very difficult goals but some impossible ones as well. He was able to establish a permanent cow camp on Santa Gertrudis creek. This was a miracle. The land was cheap for a reason. People couldn't live on it without being murdered for their boots. Yet, Richard was able to put down permanent roots there. The second impossible feat was conquering the heart of Henrietta Chamberlain. This not only required Richard to win the heart of Henrietta but the blessing of her father as well. Henrietta was very close to her family, and especially to her dad. To win him over, it’s a safe bet that Richard was forced to become a regular visitor at Hiram Chamberlain’s church in Brownsville. As I have said, it took four years but his persistent efforts eventually paid off. Richard achieved the impossible. How? Because, as I have also said, Richard, like so many people I meet today was a good reflection of God’s light, when he was around it. This made him a very appealing person in the eyes of born again believers like Hiram. Most Christians, like the world around them still look at the outward appearance and attitudes of others. That reflective quality in Richard grew brighter and brighter as he spent more time with not only Etta but her family. Etta's father was impressed by the changes he saw in Richard's life. Also, being a good reflector of God’s light, did nothing but help Richard's success in his day to day business dealings during this time. The Chamberlain family couldn’t help but notice that too. There was the excitement of his wealth building steamboat business with Mifflin and Stillman, as well as the establishment of a cow camp on the Santa Gertrudis. Hiram couldn't help but notice all these positive happenings in this young man's life going on before his very eyes. The sum of it all was very persuasive, causing Hiram to accept Richard as a very suitable husband for Henrietta.

    A good reflector of light still needs a source. That source came not only from Etta, but from missionary Hiram Chamberlain and his church. No matter what Richard’s motive was for being in church and no matter whether Richard was a believer or not, his mental state was changed for the better during this four years as he sat in church listening to the word of God being peached by Hiram. Now the word of God is powerful and it has a supernatural effect on whoever hears it, especially if they listen to it regularly and especially if the reading of it is reinforced by the actions of God’s people modeling this word before that unbeliever. When I read Tom Lea’s account of events in Richard’s life during this four year period while he was listening regularly to the word of God, I am amazed at the number of good outcomes which not only happened to him but for others around him as well. Richard's forward thinking during this time was amazing and far removed from his previous line of sight. Here is an example. I believe it is one of the greatest displays of God’s reflective light working through Richard in his entire life. At the beginning of 1854 just before he and Etta were married Richard went to a small village in northern Mexico to buy cattle. After buying every cow that the village had, its inhabitants were left with very little means to feed their families. Two years of severe drought made things even worse. Starvation for the village was just around the corner when without batting an eye Richard offered jobs to everyone who was willing to follow the herd back to the Santa Gertrudis Creek cow camp with him. Almost the entire village of over a hundred people took him up on his offer. These men, women and children were to become the nucleus and life’s blood of the King Ranch. They were to become known as King People (Los Kinenos). My commander's brother, Lauro Cavazos would write a book about this and name the book, "A Kineno Remembers". Lauro would leave his childhood of growing up on the ranch during the "Great Depression" to not only become president of Texas Tech but also Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Education.

    Richard married Henrietta at the church in Brownsville on December 10, 1854. They spent the first several months honeymooning at the cow camp on San Gertrudis Creek. Etta would later say that this was one of the most wonderful times of her life.

    The next thirty years would provide ample proof for the principle which I have briefly touched on here. Henrietta was the generator of light and Richard reflected that light. However, as it always happens with all who only reflect the light of God, his ability to reflect God’s light became tarnished with time by the circumstances of this world while the light generating power in Henrietta burned ever brighter. This is not to say that Richard became a bad person. As a matter of fact, I believe Richard remained as good a person as anyone who has ever come down the pike. I would have loved to have met him but I am afraid that will never happen.

    There was a great civil war during the first half of the 1860’s which earned a huge increase in income for the King family as Richard became heavily involved in shipping Confederate cotton through his many connections in south Texas and Mexico. These connections allowed him to skirt the Union blockades through Mexico and keep shipping cotton to foreign countries. However, as with all unbelievers there was always strife. He barely escaped a Yankee raiding party at the ranch one night, who shot dead in the darkness one of his dearest and most trusted ranch hands, Francisco Alvarado, mistaking him for Richard.

After the war he became one of the first ranchers to start driving cattle north to railheads where they could be sold for better prices to Eastern beef buyers. However his ranching business was plagued with strife. There were many bandito raids and rustlers from south of the border. He was leagued with droughts and diseased cattle. Yet, through all the strife and all the changes which the ranch went through, Henrietta was Richard’s most constant stabilizing force. Though they had a nice house in town, Henrietta made the ranch her home. She was present at the ranch during at least 26 bandito raids and she was also present when the Yankee raiding party showed up that fateful night while Richard, forced by circumstances, ran for his life. He left her and his entire family behind to fend for themselves. Well after the turn of the 20th century many an old vaquero would recall “La Madama” as they called Henrietta, bringing food and other supplies to their armed outposts as they manned them to defend against these raids on the ranch. Our new commander’s father Lauro Cavazos Sr. had been a defender in one of those well publicized raids.

    By the beginning of the 1880’s the relentless wearing down of the world had taken its toll. Richard was a well-worn shadow of that vibrant young man who had darkened the doors of missionary Hiram Chamberlain’s church just so he could look into the welcoming brown eyes of his future wife. All his life, he would be drawn to her spiritual warmth but I do not believe he ever came to an understanding of "the why of it". In her company was maybe the only place of peace he ever knew. The cattle drives, which were a main source of income for the ranch became increasingly harder to make happen as more and more open range was fenced off on the cattle trails leading to the northern railheads. Although he had constantly added to his land holdings over the years, after the war, he had also steadily added debt. He drank heavily and it was drastically speeding up his demise. On April 8, 1883, shortly after losing his youngest son, Robert Lee, to pneumonia this magnificent strong man’s soul was nearing the end of its strength. As recorded by Tom Lea, Richard King wrote the following words in a letter to his beloved wife Etta. “I am tired of this business, as I at all times have made a mess of everything I have undertaken . . . and now I want to quit the Rancho business and will so do”. Shortly after writing that Richard found a British Syndicate buyer for the King Ranch. Fortunately the sale fell through. Though no one can be sure, I am personally convinced that had these buyers bought the ranch, the everlasting legacy created through the King Ranch would have been lost forever and this story which I am telling about the men of the 1/18th Infantry Battalion would have ended much differently. May I also say, “Much more tragically.”? Two years later the spent Richard King died of stomach cancer at the age of 61 in the Menger Hotel in San Antonio with all his family at his bedside. Just a few days before his death, he was able to write out his will. He left everything to his beloved wife Etta Chamberlain King. He was such a successful person in so many ways and such a tragic person in the only way which really counts. I hope I am wrong.

    While Richard was still alive, debt on the ranch had been continually mounting and equaled almost as much as the appraised value of the land itself at the time of Richard King's death. If the ranch had been sold by Henrietta at this point, then the ranch culture which later became so important in building the character of my unit’s new commander would have been lost. Our new commander’s brother, Lauro Cavazos, would later describes personal character building accounts of growing up with his brother Richard Cavazos on the ranch, crediting the lifestyle he experienced there greatly with making him and his brother the successful human beings which they later became. If Richard King had lived longer, he would have sold the ranch and life for the Cavazos family would have been vastly different. The entire Cavazos family benefited greatly from the Godly stance, stability and work opportunities which ranch culture provided.

    God knows all. A young lawyer, Robert Justus Kleberg, had been put on retainer by Richard King several years before his death and he had soon made King ranch business his full time occupation. He had also fell in love with Henrietta’s youngest daughter, Alice. Just as a side note, in my opinion, Richard died way too early. This happened partly because of his heavy drinking but also because of the enormous stress that came from striving to maintain the trappings of success while turning his back on the strength to be gained by a personal relationship with his creator. We will see more and more of this type of thing happen in the near future as those incredibly gifted people currently responsible for igniting the communications revolution face growing older with only the strength inside themselves to rely on. It’s the same “ole” story played over and over throughout history for so many gifted and giving people. Richard's early death robbed him of the opportunity of being at his youngest daughter’s wedding. Today, many are being robbed of the joy of having a daughter or a son in the first place, all in the name of "success".

    As the reader may already know, this Kleberg marriage was a match made in heaven for the Cavazos family and thus for the men of the 1/18th Infantry Battalion. In the coming years the Klebergs became very good reflections of the godly culture established through through the spiritual guidance straight from the spirit of Henrietta Chamberlain King. Henrietta's godly influence became ingrained in every aspect of ranch decision making and then cared out through the actions of the Klebergs. These management values would be carried forward through the next couple generations by the Kleberg family.

   Pro. 22:1 says that we should value a good name more than great riches. Immediately, after Richard's death, Tom Lea said that Richard King’s lean holders were more than happy to take Henrietta’s signature on the debt owed them by her husband which spoke volumes about the name respect she garnered from Richard's business associates. In less than 10 years the entire debt was paid off. Corridors of ranch land was deeded over to railroads so they could extend railways into the area making the hard business of driving cattle to railheads a thing of the past. Water wells were drilled which tapped into vast underground artesian rivers flowing underneath the ranch. As important, schools and churches were not only built on land donated by Henrietta, but she also donated the lumber to build them. The vaqueros who worked on the ranch worked hard but so did Henrietta and so did the Kleberg family. Many times the owners were in the dirt working side by side with their Kinenos. Each human soul who lived on the ranch had an important part to play and each soul took responsibility for their part. Where much is given, much is required. Richard Kleberg Sr. not only worked alongside Kinenos on the ranch but he handled the ranch politics and business connections outside the ranch which only he could handle at that time in Texas history, because there were deep cultural divides between Hispanics and Whites and Women and Men. Women would not win the right to vote until 1920. Still, Henrietta held the reins of power over every aspect of ranch life guided by her heart as a servant in Christ. Our commander's brother, Lauro Cavazos Jr., would later write, “Kleberg was ranch manager, but it was really Mrs. King who ran it, almost until the day of her death in 1925”. God had a way of constantly reminding this missionary’s daughter that all power should come only through one’s ability to handle the responsibility which comes with that power. Else, execution of one’s power is turned from godly judgments into the devil’s tyranny. She could have sold the ranch, especially after paying off the debt, and lived very comfortably as a wealthy woman for the rest of her long life, but she didn’t and I thank God that she did not do that.

    Secretary Lauro Cavazos' entire book, "A Kineno Remembers", details how important his father, as well as ranch life, had been to him and his brother Richard. He said that his father, Lauro Cavazos Sr. came to work for Henrietta, herself, when he was 18 years old. He also said that his father worked seven days a week up until almost the time of his death in 1957. The senior Lauro was very brave. In 1915 he protected the ranch from one of the largest bandito raids in ranch history, making quite a name for himself with the locals as well as with his ranch family. He also volunteered to serve in the military during World War I, was promoted to Sergeant and was decorated for his service. He worked his way up to foreman of the Santa Gertrudis Division of the ranch in 1926. Working side by side with Bob Kleberg Jr. he was instrumental in developing the first and only American breed of cattle known as the “Santa Gertrudis breed”. He was one of the best horsemen in the country and also helped the ranch breed some of the best quarter horse stock ever produced. He was elected and served as a justice of the peace in his local community. Simply put, he was a good reflector of the light which originated from the anointed Henrietta King and he was diligent in teaching this enlightened way of thinking to his children. In the pages of his book, Secretary Lauro Cavazos Jr. makes it very clear that he and his brother, Richard, were the beneficiaries of an excellent father. Most Americans today would do well to have had an earthly father of his caliber.

     A father, or the lack thereof, affects the way a person deals with the world for their entire life. Our new commander, Richard Cavazos, was no different. The man who walked north with us that day at the start of "Operation Junction City" was a product of good fathering but it was also the King Ranch culture which shaped his ability to perform now just as it was the King Ranch culture which enabled Lauro Cavazos Sr. to be a better father. Both son's and their father were shaped by that ranch culture but it was Henrietta from the beginning who lit the way for that culture to develop into the great legacy which it became. That legacy now provided a strong foundation within our new commander's soul which gave him an incredible amount of mental stability, a stability which not only allowed him to "stay the course" but to "become the course". While many others tended to wonder around in a fog either looking for someone to blame or for someone to "fix it", or both, Richard excelled time and time again. He had a powerful internal gyroscope which kept him on course no matter what was going on around him. That gyroscope had been built within the sheltering confines of the ranch. Brig. Gen. James E. Shelton confirmed my statements here when he made the following observation about Richard in his book, "The Beast Was Out There". Here are his exact words. "Cavazos was a very special and different person. He was not the average infantry officer. For that matter, he was not really a recognizable product of the army’s officer commissioning and schools system. He had attributes that went far beyond the normal infantry lieutenant colonel. Cavazos had possessed realistic self-confidence; he was supremely confident of his own abilities and those of his unit to control events. He was not the type to trust others to assist him or his unit in carrying out its responsibilities. He was extremely aware of his command responsibility and therefore knew he had to control things and not leave the outcome to chance or to others." With these words, unknowingly, Shelton was not only describing Cavazos but he was also describing the King Ranch culture which had become deeply ingrained in our commander's soul. 

    The principle of serving others had become a dominant percept of ranch culture long before Richard Cavazos was born in 1929 and it permeated every aspect of the Cavazos kids’ upbringing. Lauro Cavazos Sr. was a good reflector of this enlightened way of thinking especially when it came to his interactions with his children. He made sure each one of his children spoke English. He also battled authorities to get them into the best school in Kingsville which was all white at the time. He demanded that each of his children finish college. However, if Lauro was a good reflection of the light, where did that light originate from in the first place? I believe it came from the light of Christ, radiating from the 'born of the spirit" Henrietta. It was this light in her which perpetuated a ranch culture of putting others first and this ranch culture not only benefited Lauro Sr.'s soul but his children as well. In 1912, when young Lauro Cavazos Sr. showed up looking for a job, this already had become the bedrock principle which underpinned almost all life activities on the ranch. Now, in 1967, the men of the 1/18th Infantry Battalion would soon become the beneficiaries of this way of thinking, themselves, because our new commander was bringing that indelible principle with him, inscribed in the very fabric of his own soul, as he joined up us. It was his default nature to put the needs of others before his own and he had already won a Silver Star and a Distinguished Service Cross in Korea for doing that very thing.   

    In this chapter, I have tried to give the reader enough information to at least partially prepare them for the "why" of the events to come in this story, because I realize that these upcoming events of my story are very different from other Vietnam War stories, which have swayed the public consciousness for so long. To fully appreciate that difference, this story must be viewed in the context of a larger picture and to fully grasp that larger picture one must be willing to acknowledge that there is a God. Secondly, one must also be willing to except the fact that God interacts in the affairs of mankind, with a view to an infinitely larger picture than we are capable of understanding. He sees the beginning and the end of everything. If He didn't He wouldn't be God. He also intervenes in matters here on earth and everywhere from this “all knowing” perspective. It has helped me tremendously to remind myself of this fact as I think back on all those who lost their lives in the Vietnam Conflict including the millions of Vietnamese people, themselves. It also helps to further remind myself that God is building His kingdom and not mine. In His kingdom, the bible says that He is not willing that any should perish. As I choose to accept that statement as truth, a very comforting and unexplainable peace comes over me. The bible goes on to say that He makes a way for all to receive eternal life, who want it. Now, there was a time in my life when that seemed hard to swallow. What about all those aborted babies? What about the little pigmy who lived in deepest darkness Africa and died without hearing the gospel message? I can't answer those questions, but God can, and guess what else? The bible doesn't give the answer to every question that we want to to know, but it does give the answer to every question that we need to know. As I accept what I just said as truth, simply because the bible says it, I find myself experiencing even more and more peace. Its been many years now since I chose to face life this way and guess what? I have become more and more able to see a bigger picture in life, like the one I am telling the reader now. Guess what else? As I believe more and more of what the bible has to say, for no other reason than because the bible says it, I experience more and more situations in life working out in my favor. Even the bad things which happen to me not only end up working out in my favor but also for others within my sphere of influence as well.

    Even an unbeliever like Richard King got some benefit by aligning his actions up with the truth in the word of God. For example, when Richard King not only "fell in love" with Etta but chose to love her with a natural love that lasted a lifetime, he upheld a righteous principle in the bible and God can and did work with that. Secondly, because Richard King heeded his wife's godly council, God made things better for him than they otherwise would have been if he had chosen to act according to perverse thoughts of his own mind. By the way a perverse thought is nothing more than a thought which is contrary to the truth in the word of God. No, doing things according to the word of God did not earn Richard eternal life. That cannot be earned by just doing what the bible says. That's called "works" and "works" cannot buy eternal life. Only believing on Christ Jesus has the power to make eternal life happen for us. However, on this earth, as Richard King supported the godly principles espoused by his believing wife, those actions worked in his favor while building the ranch and provided a stable foundation for him and others under his care, up to a point. But the real supernatural power which kept everything together came from his wife, Henrietta. Simply put, it was Richard King choosing to travel in the orbit of his Godly wife which made good things happen with the ranch and the people who lived there, including the Cavazos family. If things had been the other way around and she had traveled in his orbit, things would not have worked out so good. However, it is obvious, that from the very beginning, Etta knew how to stand her ground with Richard. Henrietta was there from the very beginning, when the miracles surrounding the ranch started to flow and she was there long after Richard died in 1885. She continued to stand firm through trial after trial, letting all things work for her good, while building a great legacy, and the men of the 1/18th Infantry Battalion were now about to become beneficiaries of that legacy. In summary, if there had been no Henrietta Chamberlain King, no Richard King, no Mifflin Kenedy, no riverboat business, no marriage between Henrietta and Richard, no King Ranch, no Lauro Cavazos or son Richard Cavazos there would have been no coming home for me and many other men of the 1/18th Infantry Battalion and finally there would have been no story to be told here to stand as a lone rebuke of all those other twisted accounts which Hollywood has produced, slamming the Vietnam Veteran.

    However, I would be getting a little ahead of myself if I did not mention that something else needed to happen first with the 1/18th Infantry Battalion, before the showing up of the right leader would have a chance of producing great results and that "something else" is an example of what all great organizations or great nations, for that matter, must have to achieve real success. They must have the right people.  The 1/18th needed the right grunts for the endeavor at hand or no matter how great the leader, this battalion would experience defeat. These had to be grunts who possessed mindsets in line with the individualistic mindset of our next commander and that was an impossible feat, considering the way things were done in the U.S. military at the time. A bigger push was fast approaching for both sides of the struggle. Interestingly enough, our unit's change of personalities had already begun to happen with people like Charlie Bell, Walker, a young man from the reservations, whose name I do not remember, O'Brian and Pat McLaughlin in C Company and myself of all people. Those right people had now been added to, when Sergeant Bartee, Milliron, Bowman and others showed up at Phu Loi just before we left left the compound. The unit was about to become immersed in a sea of continual combat activity, on average 240 days, which was longer on average for a Vietnam era soldier than any other American soldier in history.