|Here is a page I wrote about my father, hope you enjoy reading it:|
James E. Mutchler was born August 11th, 1928. He was the smallest baby born in Michigan that survived for the next two years. He stayed in an incubator for over a year. His father would carry him around in his overcoat pocket as a baby. He was small for his age until almost a teenager. The great depression wiped his father out financially and he turned to alcohol. His dad had an accident and had to have his arm amputated to save his life from gangrene. His family went to middle class to poverty in short order. His father's drinking led to a divorce between his father and mother. Now a single mother was raising several children by herself. Dad was a survivor. He survived the great depression by walking miles along the railroad tracks picking up coal that had spilled out to warm their house, and gathering corn cobs in burlap bags to sell for a nickel to start the fires in people's heaters. He spoke of poor man's soup with potato skins, water, salt and pepper. He remembered getting a spanking for peeling a potato and not just taking off the skin. He told me of seeing truck loads of potatoes being buried by bulldozers and running in between them to grab as many as he could. The first ten years of his life were lived through this great depression. He was a child forced by life to live as a man. He helped his family survive as a child and as a young teen had his first job.
Five days before his 16th birthday, he joined the army. His goal was to go to Europe and punish the Germans for his brother's death in the battle of the bulge. For two dollars, he had a forged ID made up in Detroit, and with his mother's signature, was able to get in the military. Dad traveled the world in the military. So many army bases it was hard to keep track of them all. You could almost name the base and he had been there. While in basic training, his mother changed her mind and sent the Red Cross to bring the sixteen year old home. His commander told him of what was happening and asked him if he wanted to stay in the army. He said yes! The only way was to transfer to a new group training to parachute out of planes behind enemy lines. At sixteen years of age, he was jumping out of planes fighting the Japanese on Islands all over the Pacific. When he first enlisted, they did not have a uniform pants skinny enough to stay up on his thin waist. He survived many battles in WWII and later the Korean War. He made many jumps and was involved in many battles. During these days, he received three purple hearts and two bronze stars. His commander wanted to put him up to receive a silver star after one of his men went crazy because of the stress of battle and walked into the commanders tent to kill him. Dad walked up to him and took the gun away and then knocked the man out. He wouldn't have anything to do with a silver star because he said it was one of his own men who went mad, not the enemy. His life was spared more than once. One time he had a concussion grenade go off and blow him up in the air and cover him with dirt. He busted his ear drum on this occasion and the men were gathering up the dead bodies when they noticed he still had a pulse. He bore shrapnel the rest of his life from this grenade. He had his kneecap shot off and had a plastic knee cap the rest of his life. He had almost every bone broken landing on trees during parachute drops and one time had to walk five miles with his rifle strapped to his broken leg. To many he may have seemed hard in life, but soft men did not survive war. He was a leader of men. He commanded respect and always led the way. I have talked with him many hours about the war and could talk the rest of the day telling stories he told me.
My father was saved as a child attending a good Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While in the army, he was not influenced to live for the Lord. He rededicated his life to Christ before we moved to Germany to live for three and a half years. Paul Sitton prayed with him as he rededicated his life to Christ on the front lawn of the country church my mother grew up attending in 1958. When we moved back from Germany, Paul Sitton became our Pastor and now our whole family life changed. Dad grew so much in the Lord under the ministry of Pastor Paul Sitton. He jumped in with both feet and that is all he ever knew till his health failed.
Dad was an ordained deacon, and later a preacher. I preached his ordination message and Phil read the charge and presented him a Bible. He gave it everything he had to give in four pastorates and God blessed with souls being saved and the churches all grew under his leadership. He went soul-winning many times a week and influenced many people for Christ. As fearless as he was in battle, he was in witnessing and leading men for Christ. His boldness is still an inspiration to me today.
Dad was a hard man. He didn't see any gray, things were black and white. He was made that way as he struggled to survive the great depression, World War II, the Korean War, and then four pastorates of struggling churches. He loved his wife, his children, all of his grandchildren, and great grand children. I didn't always agree with Dad, but I understood him. I knew where he was coming from, and I loved him dearly. We all did!