November 14, 2011

Jack Tueller's most important Trumpet solo

I couldn't let Veterans' day go unheralded.  Today I want to write about an amazing Veteran who lives near you.  Jack Tueller of Bountiful Utah saved lives in World War 2 through his faith and his trumpet. 
Jack had a rough beginning, but it introduced him to music.  His Mom died when he was just a little boy; his Dad left the family within that week.  He and his little brother went to live with an aunt who gave Jack a trumpet.  Jack played with the trumpet, eventually learning how to play it masterfully.  Jack said, "I was an unruly child.  Music tamed me."
Famous trumpeter Louis Armstrong heard him play with a band for an event at Yellowstone Park in 1939, telling him, "You sound pretty good for white cats."  Taking the opportunity to learn from Louis, he asked him for advice.  This advice proved to be pivotal in Germany.  "Always play the melody, man. Look at them, see their age group, play their love songs, and you'll carry all the money to the bank."

After attending BYU, marrying another trumpet player and beginning a family, World War 2 broke out.  Jack enlisted and trained with a former crop duster to become a fighter pilot.  He packed up his trumpet and took it with him.  He would play for the men at night to entertain them, and after grueling experiences in battle, comfort them.  In his airplane, Jack provided air support when the Allied invaded Normandy on D-day.  

It was in Germany two weeks after D-day that something singular happened with Jack and his trumpet.  Jack and his group of P-47 fighter pilots were in the German countryside.  A sniper was taking shots at them all day, and into the night.  As evening approached, Jack, now a Captain, wanted to get out his trumpet and calm his men.  But his men asked him not to play.  They were worried that if he did, the sniper would be able to locate him better and he'd be shot.

Jack recalled, "I thought to myself-- that German sniper is as lonely and scared as I am. How can I stop him from firing? So I played that German's love song, 'Lilly Marlene,' made famous in the late '30s by Marlene Dietrich, the famous German actress. And I wailed that trumpet over those apple orchards of Normandy, and he didn't fire."

Not only did the sniper NOT fire, but he turned himself in the next morning.  He asked to see the 'man who played the trumpet.'  When he met him, Jack said, "There was a 19-year-old German, scared and lonesome. He was dressed like a French peasant to cloak his role as a sniper. And, crying, he said, 'I couldn't fire because I thought of my fiancé. I thought of my mother and father,' and he says, 'My role is finished.'  He stuck out his hand, and I shook the hand of the enemy, [But] he was no enemy, because music had soothed the savage beast."

Jack flew 140 missions during World War 2 and his plane was never hit by a single bullet.  Later he fought in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.  He helped on the ground during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War.  He retired as a Colonel with lots of awards for his valor and bravery.

I think Jack was a great pilot and a good man.  But I think he also was guided and blessed by the Holy Spirit. He was an inspired man.  He lives in Bountiful, Utah and went to BYU for his education.  I think he's a Mormon and he knows how to rely on Heavenly Father's inspiration, even in battles of war.

We can count on Heavenly Father's help in all of our battles.  We just need to live worthy of the gift of the Holy Ghost and ask for Heavenly Father's help in prayer. 

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