Mirthright: ‘And the Password Is …’
January 1980

“Mirthright: ‘And the Password Is …’” Ensign, Jan. 1980, 51


“And the Password Is …”

It was the time of the Korean conflict. A recently returned missionary, I was serving with the Army Signal Corps in Georgia at Camp Gordon. Suffering through basic training with me were fifty other Latter-day Saints, including nine returned missionaries. We promptly requested permission to use the company dayroom for sacrament meeting services; and the captain, once he got over his initial astonishment, not only gave us permission but had the room cleaned and arranged and let us use cups and bread from the mess hall for the sacrament.

Between the sandfleas, lack of sleep, kitchen police, guard duty, and stream of orders, the hour of serenity and spirituality each Sunday was a real pleasure. One Sunday, though, that calm was ruffled a bit by the presence of a gruff, nonmember sergeant. He had marched a group of LDS recruits over from his barracks and plopped down in a chair to wait out the meeting. I can’t say that he paid much attention to the speakers, but he sat stoically through the meeting until he could round up his trainees again. The recruits came on their own after that.

Soon most of us had forgotten the incident, as within a few weeks we were facing our “graduation” test—three days of field duty and war games. On the second day, the “enemy” attacked our company and captured some of the men. The sergeant who had attended our meeting was reported missing but not captured.

That night, as we were sitting around a small campfire digging into our C-rations, a faint noise alerted us. We dropped the food, grabbed our rifles, and prepared to defend ourselves.

Suddenly a voice beyond the perimeter called, “Do any of you guys know who Joseph Smith was?” We all exchanged looks: the Latter-day Saints didn’t know whether it was a trick or not. The nonmembers didn’t even know what it was. Finally one hardy soul yelled back, “You bet we do. He was a prophet of God!”

The voice beyond the perimeter yelled exuberantly, “I’m home!” and the sergeant walked out of the darkness to rejoin his outfit.

  • J. Lynn Bradford, assistant principal at Mt. Jordan Middle School, serves as high priest group teacher in the Butler Seventh Ward, Salt Lake City.

Illustrated by Preston Heiselt