Bethel Celebrates Veterans

As a continum of our God In Me series, we have a panel of four Bethel members. Three are veterans and one is a military spouse. They each share how being in the military has shaped their faith and their opinions of the church.  We also learn what they feel non-military people should know about them and others who share their expereinces. 

We ask each of our panelists "Why did you first come to BIUMC and why do you keep coming back?" Meet the panelists and read their answers below.

Richard C. Funt
Shirley, Elizabeth and I moved to McKitrick Estates in Columbus, December 1978. Elizabeth was 13 months old. We moved from College Park, MD where we had been members of University UMC. Bethel was the first Columbus church we visited. We were warmly welcomed by the pastor, congregation, and nursery volunteers. Prior to Maryland, Shirley and I had been members of St. Paul’s UMC in State College, PA. Shirley is a lifelong Methodist; I grew up in the Reformed/UCC in Biglerville, PA.

Pastor Dale Bumgardner follow up with our visit to Bethel and invited us to a meeting of the New Philippians (later Disciples) Sunday School Class at the parsonage. Our positive experiences at Bethel led us to join the church in 1979. The Sunday School Class grew to 30 members; some are still with us today. At first many members were OSU employees; the mix gradually changed to members with similar backgrounds and families with children of similar ages. Shirley became involved with the nursery and later United Methodist Women (United Women in Faith) and other activities. Caroline joined our family in 1984. To date, we have had a daughter and a granddaughter baptized, both daughters confirmed, and one daughter married at Bethel. Our son-in-law was also confirmed at Bethel!

Bethel became our extended family, especially the Disciples Class, with whom we have shared many joys and concerns and have had wonderful biblical discussions, social events, and trips, including one to my home area of Gettysburg, PA. They helped with Brats and Berries, a fundraiser for Missions in Armenia and celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. Our triple 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration was greatly appreciated. We are grateful to our Bethel Family for many blessings.

Military Service: US Army--December 1968 - September 1970. Basic training at Ft. Leonardwood, MO; advance training in artillery at Ft. Sill, OK; Engineer Office Training at Ft. Belvoir, VA; USA Combat Surveillance Electronics Warfare School at Ft. Huachuca, AZ; 4th Military Intelligence Company (Secret Clearance), 4th Infantry Division at Pleiku and An Khe, Vietnam. Promoted Sp 4 December 1969; Sgt E5 May 1970. Awarded Bronze Star August 1970.

Susie Martin
I grew up in the Methodist Church and after my husband passed away, I returned to Columbus. My brother, Jim Davy, was attending here at Bethel, so I came to visit and then transferred my membership from Florida to Bethel.

Military Service: Oral Martin, my husband, was in the Marine Corp 1948 to 1952. The first time in battle a hand grenade landed in his foxhole, and he knew he was about to die. He remembered what the chaplain said the day before shipping out. Oral stated that he prayed and asked forgiveness of all his sins and mercy on his soul. The grenade did not explode.

His was in one of the first units to serve in the Korean War and was one of the “Chosin Few Survivors.” He was awarded a Bronze Star with a “V” (valor) for heroic actions that he performed at risk of his life in to save fellow Marines. He was never wounded, but received frost bite to both feet when he, along with many other Marines, was surrounded for a month by the Chinese at the “Chosin Reservoir.” His only food that month was frozen Tootsie Rolls. When the Marines were able to retreat, he was one of the heroes referred to as “the walking wounded.” He was transported for treatment to Bethesda Naval Hospital in Washington, where it was discovered he had several kinds of malaria contracted in Korea. In all, he was in the Korean War for two years. He spent the last year of his military service in Washington as an honor guard for President Truman. After an honorable discharge from the Marines as a Master Sergeant, he gained employment at the Ohio Bell Telephone Company, where he met his wife, Susie Davy, and they were married April 16, 1955.

Michele Walton
I was introduced to Bethel between my sophomore and junior years of high school through Sonshine. I was not a Christian at the time, though I liked to pretend I was. However, I loved theater and had a crush on a boy who was in Sonshine, so I joined! Fast forward, roughly 15 years later, I was looking for a home church in the area after getting out of the military. I looked through different websites and when I looked at Bethel’s, I saw two familiar faces: Mark Fox and Keri Newcomb. I initially came back to Bethel because of them and keep coming back throughout my travels and moves because Bethel is a prime example of what church, the people of God, should be. We disagree but we support and show up for each other for both the good and the bad, for the laughter and the tears, for the growing pains and finishing the races of life.

Military Service: I enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 27 in 2007. I attended Basic Training at “Relaxin’ Jackson” South Carolina, where I first recognized the call to go into ministry as a vocation. I did a tour in Iraq in 2008 and was the Head Stage Technician, Stage Manager and MC for the 2009 US Army Soldier Show in 2009. I was honorably discharged for medical reasons in May of 2011.

Dick Thomas
Upon completion of education at OSU in 1967, Ardis and I moved from the East side of Columbus to locate closer to OSU where I would be teaching. Also, my Aunt Pat Kavanaugh and Uncle Mike were members of Bethel. At that time, Bethel Methodist Church was still located down the street where the Refectory restaurant is now. The church became an important part of our family then and still is now.

Military Service: More than 71 years ago, with the Korean War underway, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy. I served from April 1951 to April 1955. Locations include: Great Lakes, IL for basic training and Norfolk, VA for specialized training. This was followed by two years in Washington, DC where I was assigned to what would become the National Security Agency. Finally, I spent a tour of duty of 19 months in North Africa, still working with the NSA.