The Ultimate Price
I want to tell you a story about a man who paid the ultimate price to stop evil from advancing. His named was John Robert Fox.
On December 26, 1944 (the day after Christmas), American troops and Italian Resistance fighters were under siege in the Italian village of Sommocolonia, a small town of just 200 people.
This was a strategic position along what was called the Gothic Line…the last major line of defense for the German forces within the Italian campaign of WW2. The German troops were concentrated there and were fighting to take over this strategic town.
Sommocolonia was being defended by the 92nd Infantry Division, an African-American regiment known as the Buffalo Soldiers. First Lieutenant John Robert Fox was the American Artillery Officer in the Regiment.
In the early morning hours of Dec 26, heavy German mortar fire came crashing in. The onslaught was too great for American and Italian forces and the orders were given to retreat. Instead of leaving, Lt Fox climbed to the second floor of a lone brick tower to radio the coordinates for artillery counter-strikes. From there he could see the German advance.
Bring it in 60 More Yards
In no time the streets of the town were swarming with enemy soldiers. Several men at the US Artillery bank heard Lt Fox calling for the strikes to be brought closer to his position. LT John Robert Fox was heard to say, “‘That last round was just where I wanted it, now bring it in 60 yards more.”
The receiving artillery operator thought Fox was mistaken – the order would train the full fire of the heavy 75-caliber gun directly on Lt Fox’s position. So they radioed back to Fox, stunned that he would call the next strike on himself. Fox replied, “There’s more of them than there are of us. Fire it!”
In the end, the artillery strikes forced the Germans to delay their advance through the town. This gave the 92nd Infantry time to reorganize and launch a counterattack and retake the town from German control.
When the soldiers went to recover the body of Lieutenant Fox they also found the bodies of about 100 German soldiers around the wreckage of that brick tower.
When we hear stories of extreme sacrifice it deeply moves us. I would dare to say this story means more to us as Christians. I say this because we, in a sense, know we are all part of this same story.
We were on the battlefront. The enemy forces overwhelmed us, advancing on our position with destruction in mind. The forces of darkness fought to take us over. They were swarming our streets.
And then Jesus, who could have every easily retreated, chose to stay there with us. He positioned himself squarely on the front line. He could see the enemy advancing. And He called in the artillery strike, right on his own position.
He didn’t deserve to die…
…yet, like it says in God’s word:
He poured out Himself to death,
He was numbered with the transgressors;
He bore the sin of many,
And interceded for us.
– Isaiah 53:12
Lt Fox said, “There are more of them than there are of us.” Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” The conclusion to the story of Christ is not a body lying among the uncountable dead of our enemy. Jesus came back to life. He defeated not only the evil one, but he defeated death. Our war has been won by Christ.
The Victory is Ours
We have the victory right now, as surely as you are sitting there in your seat. And for this we take the time to remember our risen hero. The hero of all heroes. Who gave himself up for us so that we could live eternally.