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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Heroes of the Salvation Army

For several years my father wrote articles in the Salvation Army magazine "Buenas Noticias". His writing was mostly about his life in the Salvation Army. One article, though, stuck out in my head. The Italian Major of peace, Mario Pesatori.

Here was a man who grew up in Italy a Catholic and doing his rebellious young adult thing he faked his death, denounced God, moved to France and got involved in the revolutionary party. In time though he got sick and was forced to return home to get well. During that time he fought with his thoughts and rebellious nature and sank further into a deep state of depression.

But, one fateful day a tall British preacher with a white beard came to Milan to preach. He attended the services and was impressed with this man and his message of the saving grace of Christ. So much so that two days later with the help of William Booth and his Army he accepted Christ.

This, though, did not go over well with his parents who sent him to live with an uncle. He continued to read his Bible daily and when he returned home he decided to move out altogether and join the Salvation Army. Commissioned a Lieutenant he was sent to Florence as his first appointment. But soon he was called up to military service.

He joined his new unit with a deep sense of sadness. Learning to fight and shoot with the intent of killing men weighed heavily on his heart. Taking the adage, "Render unto Cesar what is Cesar's," he still applied himself to time in the Military and his fellow troopers grew to respect him.  Soon he was back to the work of the Salvation Army and he dived into it with gusto, but that was short lived.

When war broke out in 1914 he was called back to military service. A dark cloud seemed to hang over him as he reported for duty. Reporting in his Salvationist uniform he pleaded to be assigned as a stretcher bearer or ambulance driver, but his commander would hear none of that, calling him a coward. Somehow, though word of his dilemma reached The General in command of division he was assigned to and as a medic the very day his unit left for the front.

For the next two years he lived in the mountains over 6,500 feet up. Three times he was swept away by avalanches, but each time he survived. He cared for the wounded and the dying, praying with them quite often. The unit Chaplain's, both catholic and protestant, were openly grateful for his help with the men. One of his fellow corporals that he had many religious talks with Benito Mussolini.  He earned 9 medals for his bravery in rescuing other men, two of them the highest medal Italy bestowed. But, finally he was wounded in the hand and his service in the military was over.

For a time after that he continued his work in Italy then stationed in Brazil. His final post was as the Salvation Army commander of all the work in Italy. Below is the original pen and ink drawing I did for my fathers article and below that is the new one for this series

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