By Michael Ashcraft –
What affected John Wurts to make him cry so easily was the dump trucks he saw in Vietnam filled with bloated and bloodied bodies of American soldiers after the Tet Offensive.
“I think the pivotal point was when I saw all these dump trucks going down the street filled with bodies, purple, black, swollen because they had been in the field for a few days because bullets were still flying around and they couldn’t get to them,” John told God Reports, his voice breaking, his eyes welling with tears.
The appalling horrors he saw in Hanoi did not lead John Wurts to Christ. That came a few years earlier when a close friend got off the mission field and studied the Bible with John nonstop, in a three-week marathon.
“He took the time to go over all of it with me,” John says. “We didn’t just read, we studied. He was a great teacher. I had considered myself a Christian before. But after studying with Mike, I realized perhaps I was not saved. After that, he had me get baptized.”
John was a stellar student. A short time later, he took time off from his college studies to work with the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign. He also had enough free time to do Bible study morning, noon and night with Mike, recently returned from 11 years of Bible translation in Paraguay and Bolivia.
Scouring the scriptures showed John that ritual and religion does not save. He needed grace through faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross for salvation.
Later, he attended Cal State University Northridge. He didn’t realize dropping one class would trigger his eligibility for the draft. When the notice came, he was “rudely surprised” and reported to boot camp at Fort Ord.
With a perfect score at the rifle range, John could have opted to become a sharp-shooter. But his superiors gave him the chance to choose, and he asked for a desk job.
What he saw at his desk job for a year starting July 1967 was just as shocking as seeing the dead bodies in dump trucks.
As the administrator in charge of logging all non-military issue supplies – everything from limos for generals to rice for friendly towns, John oversaw it all. He realized that about half of all the supplies came from one company.
At the time, President Lyndon Johnson’s wife, “Lady Bird” Johnson, had a significant stake in that company, John alleges. He saw a fuel pump come in at $450 – almost enough at the time to buy a new truck!
“After we had a complete wipe out of the enemy after the Tet Offensive, which I was in Saigon for, we had almost like a ceasefire for months so the enemy could be rebuilt to keep the war going,” he adds, again tearing up. “If we would have seized the momentum, we would have had an outright victory, it would have been over, as we could have hit them in the North. But we didn’t.”
This reporter could not confirm the veracity of John Wurts’ allegations.
The Tet Offensive was a communist counterattack directed at Saigon that was launched on the Chinese New Year, called “Tet.” The Viet Cong forces had buried guns in the caskets at mock funerals during the weeks leading up to the offensive, dug them up and unleashed their attack on the day firecrackers were being set off. The U.S. force recovered control of the city with its helicopter gunships after four days. Much of the city was leveled by the rockets of the Viet Cong and by helicopter gunfire.
According to some historians, the Tet Offensive was a psychological blow to Americans, who believed the Viet Cong incapable of mounting such an attack. According to this narrative, this blow contributed heavily to the U.S. abandoning Vietnam altogether.
“If we had pursued the victory and followed up, that would have been the end of the war, but President Johnson wouldn’t let us do it,” John says. “So we were stuck with a stalemate the eventually ended with America leaving Vietnam, abandoning our ally who was still in control and for six months cut off all supply of ammunition and weapons. We literally stabbed them in the back.
In his last days in Vietnam, John wrote a letter exposing corruption to Rep. Otis Pike, who was running a commission investigating shady dealings of government agencies, but nothing was ever done, John says.
Upon his return to the United States, John got into tax preparing, a career he does today in Calabasas, CA. For 39 years he attended the Baptist Church in the San Fernando Valley, singing in the choir. Abandoned by his first wife, John raised five kids as a single dad, he says. He has since remarried and continues serving Jesus at Godspeak Calvary Chapel of Newbury Park, CA
Pastor Michael Ashcraft is also a financial professional in California.