After Near-Death Experience, Vietnam War Veteran Saw Miracles That Saved Lives

After Near-Death Experience, Vietnam War Veteran Saw Miracles That Saved Lives
Maria Han
Reverend Bill McDonald is on a mission to teach the power of love and forgiveness. He is a Vietnam War veteran and an advocate for all war veterans. Although he is a decorated hero, he shares his stories with humility and a sense of humor. 
His stories are spiritually motivating and morally uplifting, and it all began with a brush with death at age 8. Since then, he’s been witness to several of God’s miracles.

The Vision

McDonald was deathly sick at 8 years old. His parents sent him to school regardless, and he felt like he was dying. When they finally sent him to a hospital, it was too late. He had kidney disease and lung disease among a few other illnesses.

That night at the hospital, young McDonald felt neglected and depressed. For the first time in his life, he was alone at night.

Suddenly the dark room was filled with light. The light would have been blinding but McDonald’s attention was captured by the love he felt. He felt loved. He noticed that he had risen—was floating, actually—and he felt a “divine angelic presence.”

He had no clue what was going on but with this experience, he saw the next 50 years play out before him. 
“It just kind of ran through high school, ran through the John F. Kennedy assassination—I didn’t know who John F. Kennedy was. I saw the Vietnam War. The good thing about seeing the Vietnam War was I saw that afterwards, I was still alive,” he said at an International Association for Near-Death Studies conference.
He saw who he was going to marry. He met his future wife when they were both 14 and he broke up with her in their senior year when she got into Berkeley. Although he broke up with her, he left her with a promise. 
“We’re going to get married six years from now.”

Experiencing Miracles

Shortly after leaving the hospital, McDonald was at home with his mother when they heard a choir singing. “I hear this angelic choir singing—divine, almost feminine voices,” he recalled.

Mother and son walked a block and a half in all directions of the house looking for the source of the singing and found none. Interestingly, the volume of the singing never changed. It followed them no matter where they were. Her mother concluded, “It’s just the angels singing.” And McDonald thought: What else could it have been?

A few days later, his pet dog was hit by a car. After bringing the dog back into the house, he was somehow struck by inspiration. 

“I visualized energy coming out of the sky. I visualized the energy coming down through the top [of] my head and coming out my hands. And I just put my hands on the dog. And it was electrical jolt. And a crippled dog all of a sudden jumped up off the couch, started barking and ran around. He was perfect.”

Years later, after the Vietnam War, McDonald returned to the United States with the intention of getting married to the woman he had broken up with. She was dating someone else but that didn’t deter him. He went and bought an engagement ring.

It was close to Christmas when he paid her a visit. She and her roommate were trying to light up their Christmas tree. Christmas lights back then were frustrating in the way where if one bulb had a problem, the entire string of lights would not light up. They had spent the entire day looking for the rogue light to no avail. McDonald came to their doorstep and saw the problem. 

“I'll fix it,” he said.

“I just reached back [while] talking to them and I just grabbed one bulb. And I just twisted it. And I could tell by looking at their eyes, the whole tree lit up,” he said.

Taking advantage of the opportune moment, McDonald got down on one knee and proposed. 
They’ve been married for over 50 years.

A Disaster Waiting

McDonald shared that flying and being a gunner on a helicopter was a most dangerous position during the Vietnam War. To operate a Huey helicopter, a soldier had to volunteer. They were also given special compensation.

One day coming back from a flight, McDonald was given an assignment to fly a particular helicopter the next day. When he approached the helicopter, he pressed his hand to it and, with a flash of light, he saw the helicopter experiencing a blade malfunction. There was something wrong with the rotor. He saw the helicopter fall apart and onto the triple canopy below. He saw the dead men from the crash.

He saw it all in his mind instantaneously. McDonald wasn’t someone to hide these visions so he went and told his commander. 

“You’re going to fly in that helicopter otherwise I’m going to court-martial you,” was the reply.

McDonald continued to refuse. He would take any other mission but he was not getting on that helicopter. He even put a red X on it, stating there was an issue with the rotor and told the tech inspectors. The tech inspectors found nothing.

Another man, who had a more relaxed job of punching IBM cards in a machine, wanted to express his patriotism by being a door gunner. He was introduced to McDonald as a man who would be on that helicopter. As soon as McDonald shook his hand, he started crying.

“I shook his hands. I felt like I was talking to a dead man. I knew he was gone,” McDonald recalled.

He told the man to not fly tomorrow. He said, “don’t go out there no matter what they do.”

The man thought he was crazy. McDonald earned himself the title “Crazy Mac.”

McDonald said would rather be crazy because he didn’t want to be right.

The next day, the helicopter was four hours late. It hadn’t returned to base. McDonald went out with the search crew, and guided them. Fifteen minutes later, they spotted a forest fire. The helicopter was wrecked and eight bodies were scorched.

Angel on the Wing

McDonald shared that so many supernormal things happen on battlefields. 
A colonel from the Vietnam War was being shot at while flying. When he was about to eject himself from the plane, he looked at his right wing and saw an angel. She was a little girl, around 4 or 5 years old. 

The colonel thought he was going crazy. He was around 80 years old when he shared this with McDonald.

After ejecting from the plane, he landed in water. There were enemy boats approaching him. A helicopter rescue team was somehow able to lift him out of the water and he got out of there alive. He felt incredibly lucky.

Forty years after that incident, he was with his family, including his granddaughter. He had never told his granddaughter any stories from the war. But she sat down in his lap and said, “You know, Grandpa, you remember when I was sitting on your wing? The day you got shot down? I love you, grandpa. I loved you then too.”

Keeping Morals in War

During one flight, McDonald had a new commander who graduated from West Point but had never been to Vietnam. Flying higher than was recommended, for fear of being spotted by the enemy, he saw people marching below holding what looked like guns. He commanded McDonald to fire at them. McDonald was operating an M60 machine gun—a massive amount of damage would be done in very little time.
McDonald felt that something was off. The enemy wasn’t running away. McDonald refused to fire. The commander threatened to court-martial him while telling the other gunner to fire. The other soldier expressed a trust for McDonald’s instincts since they had been working together for over six months. 

When the company refuses to take orders, that’s mutiny, and it could mean a lifetime in jail.

McDonald tried to harmonize the situation by suggesting that they fly a little lower to get a closer look. When they were about 100 feet from the ground, they got a clear look. It turned out to be children following a Catholic priest. They were carrying gardening tools and heading to the community garden.

“There’s a case where I disobeyed an order,” McDonald said. He had prevented the commander from making a massive error and he saved lives because he stuck to his morals.

It’s Not Bravery

With his efforts in the war, McDonald earned 14 Air Medals and was awarded The Distinguished Flying Cross, The Bronze Star, and The Purple Heart Medal, among others. But McDonald doesn’t think he was particularly brave. From his vision, he knew he would survive Vietnam.

“So somebody says, ‘Oh, you’re really brave.’ No, I wasn’t necessarily brave. I knew I wasn’t going to get killed. The guy that was afraid, and did something, that’s the guy who deserved a medal,” he said.

McDonald believes that he had an advantage, because he already knew the outcome. And he had trust in it.

“I also showed up with this profound belief system and trust in the universe. I knew. I didn’t believe. I didn’t assume. I didn’t hope. I knew that I was being taken care of. I knew that I was going to do the right thing. I was going to be at the right place. And I was going to follow the instincts, I was going to follow my heart 100 percent. And I wasn’t going to do anything that varied from my moral and ethic background. Because you can be a true warrior and spiritual leader in your community but you stay straight on that line and still do your duty,” he said.

Maria Han is an arts and beyond science writer.
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