Christmas, Survival, and “The True Story of The Patton Prayer”

  • 12/15/2016

Patton Prayer

Some think the background story behind some of my illustrations adds to their meaningfulness, and such may be the case with “The True Story Of The Patton Prayer”.

At a difficult point in my personal life I was commissioned by the Indiana National Guard’s 38th Infantry Division’s Chaplains Association to complete an illustration commemorating “Patton’s Prayer”.  I was SFC Wiley then; a platoon sergeant.

Due to circumstances I had limited resources and had to carve out a work space in my mother’s unheated backyard tool house to produce the work through Christmas of 1996 and on into the winter of 1997.

Research agreed with what the movie “Patton” had portrayed about this key event of WWII; that Patton’s Prayer was not his – but his 3rd Army Chief Chaplain O’Neill’s; a prayer ordered by Patton to ask for a break in the fowl weather around Bastogne so Allied Air Power could fly in to counter German armor surrounding the besieged 101st Airborne.  In short, the prayer was written, and 250,000 copies were printed and distributed to the whole of the 3rd Army.  And, the historical record shows that within 24 hours of its receipt the weather moderated, air power knocked out German armor, and the 3rd Army moved in to alleviate the 101st.  The 3rd Army had prayed and survived, and the 101st Airborne had also prayed and survived.  Just another time in American History where a Christmas-Time Prayer changed circumstances; like Washington’s Valley Forge Prayer.  The finished illustration commemorates this.  A link to O’Neill’s writings about the “True Story of the Patton Prayer” is at the end of this blog.  O’Neill’s Prayer follows:

O’Neill’s Prayer – Ordered By Patton on December 8, 1944

“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.”

As I worked on “The True Story Of The Patton Prayer” I was encouraged – hoping and praying my own personal storm would dissipate.  After many twists and turns it did; leading to my own survival, restoration, and the founding of Wiley Studio.

Upon completion, I presented the illustration to the 38th’s Indiana Chaplain’s Association, then didn’t hear anything until I got a thank you letter dated 15 August, 1997 from Major General Donald W. Shea, U.S. Army Chief Of Chaplains.  The original illustration had been framed and delivered, and was hanging in General Shea’s office in the Pentagon.  Quite unexpected; as was the Army Commendation Medal that followed.

For me it was a breakthrough with high honor and the General’s letter is with me to this day. Having a drawing hanging in the Pentagon could have been the end of the matter too. But no, world events intervened and transformed “The True Story Of The Patton Prayer” even further.
“The True Story Of The Patton Prayer” Survived 9/11.

During 9/11/01 the original was still hanging in the Army Chief Chaplain’s Office of the Pentagon; 3rd tier back; on the side the terrorist’s plane hit. It should have been destroyed, but because the edge of the frame was facing the blast, and heavy furniture was in the way, the frame was damaged but the illustration survived.

I didn’t know this until late 2003 after I had accepted a Federal job, moved east to Virginia, and paid a visit to the Pentagon.

Gently recovered from the wreckage and re-framed, “The True Story Of The Patton Prayer” illustration was eventually put on on display again at the Army Chief Chaplain’s Office, and is there to this day. It is as if Providence dictated the survival of the drawing and the memory of the answered prayer(s). Family, friends, and co-workers find this compelling.

In addition, copies of “The True Story Of The Patton Prayer” illustration have found their way into the Patton Museum at Fort Knox, and several military bases and federal agencies nationwide.

Interesting huh? Who would have thought that something so meaningful and unusual could have been spawned from the original military event, a personal struggle, a simple illustration, and a national tragedy? The story and meaning behind the prayer and illustrated versions of “The True Story Of The Patton Prayer” became, in part, motivation for the foundation of Wiley Studio. One who receives a gift is responsible to develop it and use it to serve others, especially when all is so demonstrably compelling, no?

My take: Prayer can indeed change things!

You just gotta survive.

O’Neill’s Writing on “The True Story of the Patton Prayer

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