Nicky Daniel Bacon is an American hero, a legendary warrior, and a living example of the power of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. I use the present tense, for Nick believed the promise of our Lord when He said:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”JOH 11:25-26
Nick served as Chairman of the Board of Basic Training Bible Ministries from its inception in 1994. His staunch and loyal friendship through the years, often in very dark and trying times, is something I shall value forever. The example of his life should be a challenge to each and every one of us.
Nick Bacon is a warrior. His life is defined by the battles he fought—from his most famous battle, near Tam Ky, South Vietnam in 1968—for which he received the Congressional Medal of Honor, to his final battle with cancer, by which he received his promotion to his eternal rest and reward. Nick never avoided a necessary fight, and when he fought it was for victory alone.
According to the standard of biblical chivalry, Nick Bacon is a modern-day knight. He lived according to a code of conduct as ancient as time itself. His tenets included courage, honor, and sacrifice. He fought his many battles with the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. On the many occasions that I enjoyed in his home, we often spoke of the battle of life, and how these virtues are attained. I would like to share with you a few examples from his life.
While his Medal of Honor citation provides an overview of the events of that day, it does not adequately describe the details of the eight-hour battle. In that fearsome battle of Tam Ky, Nick told of being hurled into a crater by the concussion of an RPG rocket which had been fired at him after he ran forward to knock out a machine-gun emplacement with a grenade. Temporarily stunned, when he came to himself, he looked over the side of the pit and into the face of hell. Everywhere, his fellow soldiers were being cut down by intense enemy fire. Nick told me he was more afraid than he had ever been in his life. For a terrifying moment he curled up in that crater, convinced that he—and everyone else on that field—was going to die.
Then, he said, the thought of his family came to him. He did not want them to hear that he died like this, curled up in fear. So Nick began to pray. He did not ask for escape, but only for courage to attack the enemy. As he got up and charged out of the pit, he did so with the thought, “I am coming to You now, God.” But when Nick Bacon left that pit and charged into the interlocking bands of fire, he was clothed in the armor of God, an armor that all the bullets in the world could not pierce.
The events that followed defy logic and can only be explained in terms of the miraculous. Attacking into the fire of enemy machine-gun pits, their guns jammed, while Nick took them out with grenades. He then cleared the weapons and turned them on the enemy. He fought from position to position, taking charge of platoons left leaderless by the wounding or death of their commanders. By the end of the fight, Nick twice climbed up on the exposed deck of U.S. tanks that had entered the fight, giving firing directions to the tankers, who—due to the terrain—could not see the enemy positions. Some of the survivors who witnessed these actions said that he stood in such a withering hail of tracer fire that they were convinced no one could come out of it alive.
A platoon leader from one of the platoons had been seriously wounded in the neck and appeared lifeless. Not willing to concede that he was dead, Nick crawled through heavy enemy fire to retrieve him and, finding him still alive, got him medevaced in a timely manner and saved his life.
By the end of the battle, over 760 enemy dead lay on the field, apart from many others who had been dragged away. Nick had bullet holes in his uniform and canteens—even his boot-heels had been shot away. But not one round had touched his body. His prayer had been answered “exceeding abundantly beyond all that [he could] ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (EPH 3:20). The experience of this battle makes Nick a living example of the words of David:
“This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The Angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”PSA 34:6-7
Nick believed in—and practiced—the power of diligent and fervent prayer. He knew from experience that God cares and answers our prayers, and that when His answers differ from our requests, it is always for the better. I never visited him without him making mention that he daily prayed for Nan and me, and speaking of others in need for whom he prayed.
The last time we visited Nick and Tamera was just over a month before he was called to his eternal home. Nick and I spent some time alone, speaking of our lives, our friendship, and of his on-going battle with cancer. When Nick received the news of his condition, he faced it with his typical courage, and even humor. His greatest concern was for his dear wife, Tammy, and the six children he loved so much. Yet in the very face of impending death, as far as the body is concerned, he displayed a deep, abiding faith, resting in the promises of God.
At one point in our discussion, Nick looked at me and made a comment we all need to consider. Throughout his life the battle of Tam Ky had always stood as the greatest ordeal of his life. But, he said, Tam Ky was nothing compared to the year-plus long battle he had waged against cancer. This declaration has stayed with me since we talked on that day. It is the final challenge of the life of this great yet humble man.
Only a few are called to face such a battle as he fought in Viet Nam. Yet each and every one of us must, in our time, face the inevitable battle with death. How will we fare when our time comes? Will we have availed ourselves of the “armor of God” which sustained Nick during that long and difficult struggle? Will our faith in the promises of God be sufficient for our final battle? We would do well to begin to live life with the end in view. We must first answer the question, “Where will you spend eternity?” We will have an answer for this query when we deal with the question of Pilate:
“What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ.”MAT 27:22
As a final lesson, I would like to say that when it came to the Medal of Honor, Nick always said that as a recipient, he merely had the opportunity to be the spokesman for the thousands of unsung heroes. He saw the reception of that honor as a trust—placing upon his shoulders a great responsibility to do all he could to help America’s veterans. Not long ago, I was speaking with a veteran in Montana who asked about Nick’s health. After I explained his condition at that point, the man said, “When you see him again, please thank him for me. He worked hard to get me disability benefits. He will not remember me, but I will never forget him.” I was able to pass on these words to Nick on our last visit with him.
In the spirit of this tribute, I would like to include Tamera, whose steadfast love of Nick through life, whose sacrificial devotion to their children, and whose cheerful service and friendship to so many, including my wife Nancy, has been equally heroic. The sacrificial role of faithful wife and mother receives little credit in the eyes of this world. Yet I am convinced in the halls of Heaven a far greater reward than even the Medal of Honor awaits Nick’s dear wife Tammy, and all those unsung heroes of the hearth and homes of America. Observing the unshakeable, eternal joy underlying the temporal grief of their great loss, each member of Nick’s family exemplified the power of faith in a living Savior.
In conclusion, I ask that you all join me in faithfully praying for Tamera, and all of Nick’s children: Britt, Wyatt, James, Kristy, Kim, and William (youngest to eldest). Let our tribute to Nick be our prayers for those he loved most, that they may know the presence and comfort of the Redeemer they all love and serve. The following verses were put under Nick’s picture in the funeral program. They direct us all to the ultimate issue of life:
“Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”JOB 19:23-27