In the Presence of mine Enemies, by Howard and Phyllis Rutledge

Reminder to pray for our soldiers at War

At times when writing, words flow with incredible ease, this is one of those times. If you have never taken the time to read the account of Vietnamese P.O.W. Richard Rutledge, In the Presence of Mine Enemies, I encourage you to read it.

The Vietnamese officers responsible for imprisoning, starving, torturing, isolating, bringing to the brink of death only to offer medic care and resume the process, make good the threat with death; including, willingly leaving an officer to die utterly alone upon relocating every other P.O.W., and extracting confession by any possible means were unplussed at the sustaining Power of God working throughout the camp in the souls of our American officers.

Accounts of how the prisoners managed communication by clanging fecal pails “toilets”, shuffling sandals, coughing, clearing of throat, tin cups which Rutledge described as transducers for through wall transmission, and all seasoned P.O.W.’s cooperative efforts to rapidly bring new arrivals “on line” by instructing him in these methods. Fulfillment of this most basic need, communion with fellow man, our brave pilots risked, and often endured, torture; yet, months in solitary confinement with despairing loneliness never deterred men from communicating with each other behind their captor’s backs. Prayerfully, you and I will never comprehend the degree of inhumanity these experienced.

While a P.O.W., Mr. Rutledge endured 48 months in solitary his only company rats the size of opossums, spiders as big as his hand, mosquitoes aplenty; yet, our blessed God provided many hours of entertainment through Geckos that lightened his mood apparently quite comical to observe.

This man is transparent about having put softball games, golfing, newspaper reading and meeting up at the officers club above taking the spiritual role as head of his home. Weekly his wife took their three children to church and over the entirety of their marriage he never accompanied them but to attend the funerals of a fallen soldiers. Mrs. Rutledge, coauthored their book, conveys the Sovereignty of God in even her attending church once giving birth to children. Victims of legalistic, albeit well-intended, SBC parents neither she nor Richard were permitted to watch films, or do anything on Sunday were they to be found with sweat on their faces soap went in the mouth. As products of such upbringing neither wanted much to do with church, although she did rear the children in church as the Bible commands. Inevitably, as is witnessed in our own generation, adolescence brought the inevitable moaning that if dad wasn’t going why should we.

God Draws Richard Back Unto Jesus

While imprisoned, Richard grieved over so long neglecting reading of scripture desperate to recollect what he learned growing up. Flailing attempts to recall verse in totality were followed by sincere prayer to God for help in what little he did know. Faithfully, God brought to mind, during particularly difficult times of suffering, hymns, verses, and reignited a passion for Christ and a truer understanding of how important He is and a better focus of Who He is. In fact, one Christmas while reflecting on years spent with his children ripping gifts open and feigning surprise, as apparently it was a well-known secret the children had spied out the booty by searching the beds and closets, it struck Richard what a priceless, precious gift God sent in Christ. Astutely, it struck that all men on earth are in prison until they find Him.

The officers communicated with each other and held worship on Sundays refusing to give into the guards demands to cease; despite one Sunday resulting in what he described as a riot in which each time the Vietnamese jailers told them to stop the one sharing the devotional, singing the hymn, or offering prayer responded by speaking all the more loudly! Occasions which brought turkey or any other decent meal rather than the typical diet of dysentery-inducing water complemented with sewer weeds, harvested from around the grates of human fecal matter, and furry pork fat were rare but joyous.

Release did come as a peace agreement was reached and the P.O.W.s scheduled to return home by way of the Philippines. As part of the peace agreement, our American soldiers were to receive itineraries of how their release would proceed. They refused to read the packets detailing their release without first offering a prayer of thanksgiving to God for his mercy. Not many got sleep that night imagining what it would be like to finally return home to America. Richard details the joy of smelling perfumed stewardesses, American food, sitting in a cushioned chair in the transport plane; and, how each of our heroes eventually sat in quiet reflection upon what they had endured.

Richard had promised God, making clear in the book it was not a “bargain”, that once home he would obtain a Bible and never be without one again. Also, he was curious how his wife, Phyllis would receive his passionate faith if it would be with skepticism. During his first phone conversation with Phyllis before coming home, he learned their son John at age 15 had suffered a crippling swimming accident while at the ocean and was wheelchair bound.  Richard asked his wife if she felt responsible for what had happened, and she tearfully mumbled a reply, to which he responded, “I trust you implicitly and know you did the best you could, that’s really all anyone can expect.”

Prior Generations of Americans Honored Soldiers Returning from War

This portion is not directed at organizations, quite a few of which are wives, mothers, and fathers of our brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who raise money from private citizens, that help our soldiers be they fallen or disabled. Rather, at young people who never thank men in uniform while passing them in the airport, rail or grocery store. It has been a shock to the young men who hear from me, “God bless you, and thank you for your service to our nation.” Some are so stunned all they manage to get out, as we pass, is “Thanks, ma’am.” What a sad commentary on this generation who, as evidenced by our recent election, are absolutely devoid of the value of freedom. To the government school indoctrinated masses, America is evil, war-mongering, wrong, selfish capitalists who would do well to degrade to a third world nation. Wonder if they’ve logically examined that propagandist philosophy … whatever will they do without electronics, cell phones, I-Pads, I-pods, Kindles, food, housing, or jobs?

It is to these I felt compelled to address the following portion of this terrific book:

Philippines, 1973

A young nurse requested to visit him, but he and the other P.O.W.s had agreed to not discuss their captivity until all our soldiers had come home; therefore, Richard hesitated at first but did agree to see her. The young R.N. walks into his room and says, “Captain Rutledge, for many months I’ve worn your bracelet, without taking it off night or day. Every day I’ve prayed for your safe return. Now those prayers have been answered. I just wanted to tell you how glad I am you’re home again.”

Rutledge later learned millions of Americans, young and old, from all walks of life, had been wearing ID bracelets like this one to keep the memories of the P.O.W. and M.I.A. men clear in the public’s mind and to remind them daily to pray for our safe return, I believe those prayers had everything to do with my return and, again, I am grateful.[1]


In case you are unaware, our men and women are forbidden to respond with force if witnessing al-Qaeda planting IED, and;  U.S. soldiers finally permitted to chamber rounds in Afghanistan.

There is significant doubt in my mind that few under the age of 40, and sadly many of that age group so preoccupied with the trivialities of this life, would even care about the above referenced articles.

As a civilian, whether or not you support the war is irrelevant the soldiers fighting it deserve honor, respect and provision of basic needs, i.e. provide soap, toothpaste, and deodorant; to be objects of our prayers; and there comes a time when we need to become very vocal about getting them the heck outta there. I believe that time has come.

Over FOUR THOUSAND (4,000) of our soldiers are dead, and nothing has changed the people still want Taliban rule. Recently, I heard on a radio program, or read in an article, that leaving will only tell the Taliban ‘wait until we leave in 2013 and you’ve won’ makes me sick. The present CIC is not worth a tinkers damn, most particularly because in all his published books he boasts of being born in Kenya until just prior to running for political office when the bio was suddenly altered to claim he was born in Hawaii.

Let us contact our representatives and continue to do so until they bring these men and women home. It has been long enough and we are not going to be permitted to win because that does not fit into the mindset of those in D.C. who hate the military, are gutting its budget, and have already prepared a “homeland FEMA corp” as promised in the first campaign. May God help us all. Speaking for myself, I’ll feel much more comfortable once our soldiers are back on U.S. soil reunited with family, friends, able to return to work – if there are any jobs remaining (oops, O said the employment numbers are improved; ah, yeah, only due to  minimum wage “holiday” temp jobs) – but also because no more blood need be spilled on behalf of the Afghan people wish to remain under the Taliban. Get us out, now! Please God.

NOTES: In The Presence of Mine Enemies, Howard and Phyllis Rutledge, pp 116-117


4 thoughts on “In the Presence of mine Enemies, by Howard and Phyllis Rutledge

  1. This article found a tender spot in my soul. During the Vietnam War, I was the Navy’s Casulaty Assistance Calls Officer for the family of CAPT Rutledge. My job was to keep them appraised of any information the Navy had about the Captain’s (then a Commander) situation in Hanoi. Very little news came out as, except the North Vietnamese propaganda, as we know. I remember going to a sports event with the family, and at one point I carried young John in my arms to the restroom. I wanted to treat this family as I would want my family to be treated if they were ever in need of a casualty assitance officer. I wore Capt Rutledge’s bracelet, as well, and our family prayed for him and his loved ones. His courage, and that of his fellow POWs, is inspiring.

    CAPT Edward Schweizer (Navy, retired)


  2. My son is in federal prison, and this book by Howard Rutledge, “In the Presence of Mine Enemies”, would be inspirational for him to read. I want to order the book. I can only find it on Amazon by a few independent sellers. To receive a book in federal prison, it has to be shipped from a ‘major, national bookseller’ company. I fear the shipping from an independent source who sells through Amazon would be rejected by the facility. Can you help me find this book to purchase and have shipped to my son by an assured acceptable source? Thank you for your help!



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