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Full text of "Father Cyclone"

FATHER 
CYCLONE 

rue story of a remarkable 
CZatholic chaplain- 147/10 s&r-v&d in 
f> f* ad fie 



by DAISY" AMOURY 

Almost everyone who reached the South 
Pacific during the Second World War 
had heard something of Father Law- 
rence Lynch. And Father Lynch knew 
by first name every soldier in his area. 
Catholics, Protestants, Jews - they all 
loved this dynamic chaplain from 
Brooklyn. 

He had his men in the palm of his 
hand from the very beginning; when he 
stepped to the; foot of the improvised 
altar., stood there In uniform, legs 
apart, square-set, arid said in a clear 
distinct voice: "I'm Father Hawrence 
lyyneh and I'm from Brooklyn. I'm 
God's gift to the Army and to you guys 
and if any man doubts that statement 
I'll be glad to prove It - after Mass/' 
When a belly laugh sounded from one 
end of the chapel to the other, he said : 
**Thanks. Now let's get down to the 
business at hand. We're going to cele- 
brate Holy Mass - that's what you're 
here for." 

The business at hand Included every- 
thing from Mass to arranging Jewish 

( 'confirmed on hacfc flap) 



FATHER CYCLONE 



BY DAISY AMOURY 




JULIAN MESSNER, INC. 
New Yorfc, N. Y. 



Published by Julian Messner, Inc. 
8 West 40 Street, New York 18 

Published simultaneously in Canada 
by The Copp Clark Publishing Co. Limited 

Copyright 1958 by Daisy Amoury 



Printed in the United States of America 



Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 58-7845 



This book is dedicated 

to the memory of my parents 

and in honor of 

THE LADY 
Whose hand is always on my shoulder 



AUTHOR'S NOTE 



It was Glenn Kittler who first "introduced" me to Father 
Lawrence E. Lynch, C.SS.R., two years after his death. 
Later, when Kittler quipped: "Next time you commune with 
Lynch's ghost, say hello for me," he could not hide the affec- 
tion he had for his chaplain. 

Without Kittler, and the others who made Father Larry 
come alive for me, this book could not have been written. 
Like Kittler, they were unstinting in their cooperation and 
generous of their time, their personalities, their memories. 

Kittler himself traveled from Norfolk, Virginia, to Wash- 
ington, D.C., to spend a few brief hours with me, talking 
"Larry" until I knew the man as intimately as Kittler had 
known him. 

Julius Klein, now Major General, flew from Chicago to 
New York for the Memorial Mass, and later spent many 
hours of his precious time talking about his "Rabbi Lynch." 

Alvin E. Moscowitz was painstaking and meticulous in 
recounting each detail of his recollection of his adopted 
chaplain; it is to him I owe my thanks for the exacting ac- 
curacy of the court-martial trials. 

Father John T. Byrne was unfailing in his help as to de- 



Father Cyclone 

tails of those incidents which took place after Father Larry 
left Noumea. He, more than any other, was close to the 
priest at Espiritu Santo, working out the details of that in- 
credible "Mission for the Division" which has become leg- 
endary. 

There are thanks due to many others Joseph Hart who 
gave me the graphic story of Father Lynch's days on Oki- 
nawa, and Dennis Claire who helped me to understand so 
much of what actually happened that black night. 

My thanks are due also to Rene de Chochor and James 
Oliver Brown for their wise counsel and guidance and for 
their never-failing patience. 

But most of all, I owe my deep appreciation and warm 
thanks to the entire Lynch family: to c< Mom" who never 
cried for her Lala; to "Pop" who could not talk of his priest- 
son, and particularly to Mary and her husband, James Carey* 
who helped me to bridge the gap between Lynch, the so*a 
and brother, and Captain Lynch, soldier-priest. Mary put at 
my disposal the priceless documents and mementos Larry 
had sent to her and without which I could never have known 
the rounded character I have tried to present here. 

DAISY AMOUBY 
New York, N.Y. 



8 



FATHER CYCLONE 



CHAPTER ONE 



Lt. Col. Julius Klein cursed the rivers of sweat running 
down his body, making his clothes stick uncomfortably to 
him. He cursed the New Caledonian sun beating down on 
his shack and the red dust seeping through the canvas- 
covered window of his officehigh up over the hills of 
Noumea. He cursed Glenn Kittler, the chaplain's assistant, 
because he had not sent Father Lynch to the office as or- 
dered. He cursed Father Lynch for not being there. He 
cursed himself for the vague doubt that Lynch might not 
be as pleased about his news as he was. 

And he resisted a smile when at last the bareheaded 
priest appeared, cap tucked into his belt, collar turned in- 
side to hide all evidence of rank. Klein clenched his teeth 
on the long, inevitable cigar; his sparse, graying hair was 
tumbled, his thick-lensed glasses smoky from the sultry heat; 
he was determined to be firm and angry. 

11 



Father Cyclone 

"Father Lynch/' he snapped, "Didn't anybody ever tell 
you we're in a war?" 

"I heard rumors. You ever been to L'Anse Vata, Colonel 
Julius? Gorgeous spot, swell beach. Road winds around 
Ouen Toro. . . .** 

"Didn't Kittler tell you I sent for you this morning?" 

Lynch chuckled, and teetered back in Klein's chair. 
"Glenn's mad at me too. You know, I think he's decided I'm 
hopeless. Why don't you do that too, and then we can go 
on from there!" 

"You got something maybe," Klein grinned, then sobered. 
"You trying to disrupt the whole Island Command? What's 
the idea telling Rabbi Chapman he's gotta share his kosher 
wine with you? With Passover coming up too!" 

"It's only a temporary loan. And there's no law says we 
can't use kosher wine for Mass." 

"You know that's not what I mean," Klein retorted. "May- 
be getting you assigned Chief of Chaplains for a group isn't 
such a good idea at thatl" 

The chair crashed forward. Lynch leaned over the desk, 
eyes blazing. "I've been reassigned? I'm being shipped up?" 
His face changed when he saw Klein's expression. "You got 
the okay to reorganize the 523rd Group, Congratulations! 
That should give you full colonel at the least!" 

"Quit evading the issue. How do you feel about Chief of 
Chaplains?" 

"I'd drive you mad. Why you just said . . . Oh, by the 
way, we're figuring on you heading up the Seder for the 
42nd." 

Momentarily distracted from his objective by the ruse, 

12 



Father Cyclone 

Klein's face flushed angrily. "Who the hell said the 42nd 
was having a Seder? The Island Command is having a cele- 
bration in the base hospital." 

"To which more than a hundred men from the 42nd can't 
go. So, since Moscowitz is Recreation Officer, and I'm 
adopted Chaplain ..." A knock on the door, followed im- 
mediately by Klein's secretary, stopped him. 

"Sir, the liberty ship Elihu Thompson hit a mine. Navy 
and Coast Guard rescue crews are out, but as Port Com- 
mander, I thought you . . ." 

Klein was no longer listening. He was halfway out the 
door when he collided with Lynch. "Where the hell you 
think you're going?" he barked. "I'll see you when I get 
back." 

"I'm going with you," Lynch said. 

"This is no place for you. The outside surf is heavy; we're 
going in a crash boat. As port commander I gotta go, but 
you'd better wait." 

"As chaplain, that is where I belong," Lynch said. 

"Father, I can't permit it. Believe me, it'll be bad." 

"Then, 111 be badly needed and you're wasting precious 
time." 

Gently, he pushed Klein ahead of him through the door. 



The Elihu Thompson wallowed helplessly in heavy seas, 
her nose already deep in the water; she was surrounded by 
every type of rescue craft and crash boat some of them 

13 



Father Cyclone 

scouting the waters for the bodies o dead or wounded, 
others waiting on an outer rim for orders. Narrow rope lad- 
ders hung like ugly ribbons down the slanting deck, some 
of them held steady at the bottom by men in boats close by. 

The port commander's crash boat eased between two 
Coast Guard tugs, coming in close to the hulk of the stricken 
ship. Klein did not see Lynch grab at die swinging rope 
ladder; nor was he aware that the priest had left the boat 
until he saw him, his collar turned outside showing both 
his rank and calling, almost halfway up the ship's side. He 
heard a sailor from above shout, "Better not try to board us, 
sir! She's sinking fasti" 

"Who's in command?" Klein shouted up at one of the tugs. 

"Here!" came the authoritative voice of the Executive. 
*Who the hell is that goddam maniac? Tell him to get down 
at oneeP 

"Chaplain, sir," Klein shouted, watching Lynch swing to 
the deck above. "What do you want us to do, sir?" 

"Stand by for bodies, Colonel." The reply was crisp. "Don't 
attempt to board; and tell that padre to return to your boat 
immediately." 

Klein knew it was a waste of breath to pass on the order; 
Lynch had undoubtedly heard it too, but at that moment 
the priest was steadying an injured MP over the side, get- 
ting his foot on the top rung of the ladder. 

"Colonel Julius!" he shouted down. "'Hold that ladder 
steady!" 

The wounded soldier was barely in the crash boat when 
the priest was helping another man whose arm hung limply 
at his side. "You're not hurt bad, son," Lynches words came 

14 



Father Cyclone 

down to Klein through the din. "What you need is a stiff 
drink and a prayer. You say the prayer and . . . Heyl Colo- 
nel Julius! Order a stiff whisky for this one/' 

It was a nightmare of haste, yet, incredibly, almost no 
confusion. Klein tried to recall afterwards exactly how many 
times he saw Father Lynch appear at the top of the ladder 
and then disappear after he started a wounded man down, 
but it was impossible. He saw the priest try to help one last 
man almost at the moment the stand clear whistle was 
blown, saw the soldier crumple, and ordered Lynch to leave 
him. 

Then he saw Lynch, an unconscious body over his shoul- 
der, begin the precarious descent. 

The other boats had pulled back, and Klein heard the 
Executive's curse as his own crash boat moved off just in 
time. The Elihu Thompsons stern lifted high and she shud- 
dered as she took her last deep plunge and settled to her 
grave, taking with her thirty-five men who, ironically, were 
returning home from the front after a brief rest at Espiritu 
Santo. 

Klein grabbed Lynch's arm and shook him. "Dammit all, 
Father. You realize what could have happened in another 
minute?" 

"Sorry, Colonel Julius/* the priest said. "Excuse me. IVe 
got work to do." 

Klein watched him move with difficulty in the pitching 
boat; saw him stop for a quick look at each of the men he 
passed, his look seeming to gauge their need. As he bent 
over the man, his left hand searched out the dog tag, his 
right either made the sign of the cross in benediction over 

15 



Father Cyclone 

each prone figure or, If the small letter on die dog tag told 
him the wounded man was not one who would value that 
sign, the right hand touched his forehead gently. 

"Padre!" It was barely a whisper, and it came from the 
last man Father Lynch had brought down from the Elihu 
Thompson. 

The priest either guessed or felt the call instinctively, 
Klein decided, It was almost impossible to have heard that 
weak voice, yet Lynch looked up, moved swiftly, and stood 
over the soldier, his hand searching out the dog tag. "I'm 
right here, Jacob," he said. 

The wounded man fought for breath, his face white and 
drained, his eyes beginning to glaze. "Padre!" His voice 
held a measure of relief. "Padre . . . will you . . . will 
you . . ." It faded, but when Lynch touched his forehead 
and said gently, "Tell me what you want, my son," Jacob 
tried again. "Will you . . . ask the . . . rabbi . . I want 
... the Yis ... Yisga . . * 

"Would you like me to say it for you now, Jacob?" 

The heavy eyes opened. *1 . . . want the ... the Yis 

t r f ?* 

... if ... if ... 

Father Lynch leaned closer. He took both cold hands in 
his own, holding them firmly, and the Jewish boy smiled as 
the firm, vibrant, reverent voice intoned: "Yisgadal v'yiska- 
dash sh'may rabbo, Volmo di v'ro chiroasay. . . /* 

Lt Col. Julius Klein, descendant of a rabbinical family, 
listened wide-eyed, oblivious of the moisture on his cheek. 
He heard the great Hebrew prayer for the dead through to 
the end; silently he watched the priest close the staring eyes 
and lift the blanket to cover the young face. 

18 



Father Cyclone 

Father Lynch straightened and faced Klein. 

"How in the name of God . . ." Klein breathed, stopped 
in an effort to control his shaking voice. "I ... I ... 
where . . . you really meant it! When you told him ... I 
thought. . . ." 

"Did you think I'd lie to the boy?" Lynch asked in a low 
voice, his lips tight. 

"No. Oh, no. No. But . . . you . * /' Klein's impatience 
was an effort to hide his emotion. "You're a Catholic priest 
and that was Hebrew! I could understand if he'd been a 
Protestant, but . . ." 

"I'm a chaplain, Colonel Julius," Lynch said. "My first duty 
is to be prepared and able to administer to the men I serve, 
regardless of creed, particularly when, as now, I happen to 
be the only chaplain present/' 

"That . , . that's not what I meanl" Klein said, bewil- 
dered. "You knew the prayer. You knew all of it. Why even 
many rabbis couldn't . . . couldn't recite it like that . . . 
from memory." 

"As a missionary, I was taught many things among them 
the Hebrew ritual. Now, excuse me, please. There are others 
waiting." He tried to turn, but Klein stopped him, a hand 
on his arm. 

"God bless you, Rabbi Lynch," he said. "You've done a 
good job this day. That boy . . . his mother will bless youl" 



17 



Father Cyclone 



Glenn Kittler heard parts of the story next day, and was 
frankly incredulous. It didn't jibe with anything he knew 
of Lynch, and his own irritation at the chaplain's manner 
increased. Ever since Lynch's arrival on New Caledonia on 
Christmas Eve in 1943 Kittler had tried with no success 
to understand the man. 

When he thought of the priest, words like rambunctious, 
grandstander, show-off came instantly to his mind. He re- 
sented the abrupt ending of those pleasant, indolent days 
between the departure of the last chaplain gentle, easygo- 
ing Father Svedas and the arrival of Father Lawrence 
Lynch. He had had the use of the chaplain's jeep and he 
spent many carefree, happy evenings with delightful people 
in the town of Noumea who had become his good friends; 
he had enjoyed picnics on the Plaine de Gaiac where the 
beach was perfect. Life had been simple, uncomplicated. 

And he had done his job. Every Sunday he wangled a 
Navy chaplain from the base at the other end of the island; 
he had even managed to line one up for Christmas Eve Mid- 
night Mass just in case the troopship was delayed and the 
chaplain didn't arrive. Later, when he learned that the 
troopship had been in port for four hours before the chap- 
lain appeared, he was irritated but not worried. 

Kittler had cleaned the shack until it actually looked 
clean despite the persistent red dust which defied even the 
canvas covering over the windows, put there to keep it out. 

18 



Father Cyclone 

He didn't hear the door open; he wasn't aware he had a 
visitor until he felt a vigorous slap on his back and heard the 
breezy: "Hi ya, Champ!" He straightened with a curse and 
was about to confront the offender when the telephone 
stopped him. 

He snatched at it, barking, "Chaplain's quarters, Kittler 
speaking." It didn't lessen his annoyance to be told that Lt. 
Col. Klein, commanding officer of the 42nd QM Battalion 
Mobile, wanted the chaplain at his office immediately. 

So Klein was up to his old tricks. Kittler grunted. He'd 
have to break this new chaplain in right, and right from 
the beginning. It would be just like Klein to get hold of him 
at once and try to have the chaplain and himself assigned 
to the 42nd, but he-Kittler-wouldn't stand for that! Bad 
enough being stuck here on this blasted island; at least be- 
ing part of the Island Command relieved him of some of the 
deadly routine of belonging to one outfit. 

When he remembered his visitor he swung around, ready 
to take up where he had been interrupted, but the soldier 
had disappeared. Instead, Kittler bumped into Lt Alvin 
Moscowitz, one of Klein's staff in the 42nd QM Battalion 
Mobile. 

"Where is he, Sarge?" Moscowitz wanted to know* He 
looked harried; his round young face was shining with sweat. 

"If you mean the chaplain, sir, he hasn't shown yet," 
Kittler answered. 

"But he's got to be here!" Moscowitz said. "The troop- 
ship cleared four hours ago; I know because I cleared it. 
You don't just arrive in Noumea and . . . and vanish! He 
arrived all right Unless I'm mistaken, he's the . . . he's the 

19 



Father Cyclone 

guy stepped out of line and had to be ordered back. And 
now he hasn't even checked with Operations. Somebody 
ought to tell chaplains they're subject to regulations like 
everybody else." 

Kittler was aware of only one sentence: The troopship had 
cleared four hours ago. 

"Did you try the officers' club, sir?" he ventured. The chap- 
lain's disappearance could be embarrassing and it put him 
In a damned unpleasant spot; after all, part of his job was 
knowing where his superior was at all times, particularly 
when he was wanted. 

"You trying to be funny, Sergeant?" Moscowitzfs look 
warned him he'd better not be; a glance at his watch told 
Kittler the lieutenant was right, of course. "Even the special 
mess for the new arrivals finished two hours ago. I've 
checked every . . ." 

The telephone cut him off and Moscowitz waited while 
Kittler answered it. Kittler suppressed a grin as he passed 
the instrument to Moscowitz. "It's Colonel Klein, sir. He's 
asking for you/' 

Moscowitz took the instrument and Kittler moved away; 
even so, he heard Klein's voice distinctly as it rasped harshly 
through the phone: "He's here, AL And by God, you better 
come on the double. Get over herel" That was all except 
for the slam of the receiver. 

Moscowitz rubbed his ear. "Now what?" he asked, ad- 
dressing the question more to himself than to Kittler. He 
didn't wait for an answer, but started to leave, reached the 
door and stopped, looking back at Kittler. "Sergeant, you 
got my sympathy. I think you're gonna need itl" 

20 



Father Cyclone 

Kittler's face was grim; he had an uneasy feeling in the pit 
of his stomach. He agreed with Moscowitz, but not for the 
same reason. This time Klein wasn't going to take no; this 
time it would be a fight to the death. 

It never occurred to him that his fight would be with 
Father Lawrence Lynch, his immediate superior! 



Alvin Moscowitz drove his jeep with reckless fury out of 
the town of Noumea toward the hills which led to the army- 
squared section of the island assigned to the 42nd QM Bat- 
talion Mobile, and in spite of the deeply gutted road with 
its treacherous pools hidden by innocent-seeming mud 
puddles, he made the trip in record time. 

If anyone asked him, he was pretty fed up with this 
elusive chaplain who wasn't any concern of the 42nd in the 
first place. Moscowitz couldn't see why he had to go scout- 
ing around after a man who didn't have the sense to check 
in with Operations. The glare of the sun, alternating with 
intermittent rain beating down on the newly cemented 
docks at Finger Piers, had been bad enough, but added to 
the job of supervising the unloading of troops and assigning 
them to trucks for transportation to temporary bivouac, it 
was enough to make a saint mad! And Moscowitz told him- 
self he was no saint. 

What he wouldn't give to be back in New York, high up 
in his tiny office, surrounded by his newly acquired law- 
books! This blasted business of being uprooted out of his life 

21 



Father Cyclone 

and dumped on this Godforsaken island. . . . Still there 
had been one break: his appointment as defense counsel on 
the general court gave him a chance to work at his law a bit. 

Not that the case of Mervin Jackson meant anything. 
Jackson had already signed a confession; but that didn't 
alter the fact that he had to prepare a case for the defense. 

He swung the jeep to a vicious stop before the door with 
the faded H.Q. sign tacked over it, got out and landed in 
red mud, splashing his last pair of clean trousers. That made 
three pairs he'd have to get washed: only God and the 
laundry could guess if they'd ever get the red stuff off. 

He didn't have to knock. 

"Moscowitzr Lt. Col. Julius Klein barked, relief in his 
face, his hair wild and disordered. "Thank God! Here. Meet 
Father Lynch." 

He had known it all along! It was the same man who had 
broken ranks during the unloading; the same man he had 
ordered: "Get the hell back in that line and stay there till 
your name is called." How was he to guess that a soldier 
whose cap was stuck in his belt, whose collar was turned 
insideagainst regulations was a chaplain? 

Moscowitz came as close to glaring as his round, pleasant 
face permitted, but all he said was, "Father." 

In the chair behind Klein's desk, tilted back so that his 
head was against the wall, the priest looked at Moscowitz 
and grinned sympathetically. He extended his hand. "Father 
Lawrence Lynch of Brooklyn," he said. "How are you, Tex?" 

Tex?" Klein gasped. "He's from Brooklyn tool" 

"Is he?" Lynch registered surprise, then chuckled. "But it 
don't show on him. Besides, I like Tex better. It fits him 

22 



Father Cyclone 

'specially with that hat and the way he handled that un- 
loading." 

Rage was beginning to turn Klein's face purple. "I though! 
you told me you hadn't seen him!" he accused Moscowitz. 
"Why in ..." 

"He didn't/' Lynch interrupted, adding, satto voce to the 
lieutenant: "Always keep 'em guessing, Tex. Get 'em angry 
or amused and you've got their guard down. If they don't 
know what comes next you've got the upper hand. See? Now 
about tonight . . ." 

"Mad. That's what he is," Klein fumed. "Crazy as a loon! 
Here I've been yelling my lungs out, begging for a chaplain 
and look what I get." 

"But you haven't, Colonel!" Lynch reminded him. "As I 
understand it, I'm on general assignment to the Island Com- 
mand, That right, Tex?" 

Moscowitz looked from the priest to his commanding of- 
ficer and shrugged. "He's right, Colonel." 

"Thanks," Lynch said. "Now you'll come tonight, of course. 
There's a kid named Goldstein came with us. He's got the 
sweetest voice you've ever heard I'll bet a nickel on that. 
He's going to lead the singing." 

"Didn't I tell you he's mad?" Klein burst out. His cigar 
bobbed up and down when he talked, and he paced from 
door to window and back, both arms waving. "He's a maniac, 
that's what he is. You know what he's done? He's committed 
the entire staff to go to his Midnight Mass tonight! You, me, 
everybody! Now you tell me what a Jewish officer'd be do- 
ing in a Catholic church on Christmas Eve? Just you tell 
me that!" 

23 



Father Cyclone 

Lynch Ignored all but the last two sentences. When Klein 
finished he was on his feet, and though he was shorter than 
Klein, he somehow appeared taller. His tone was quiet, yet 
with an arresting quality which gave emphasis to every word 
he spoke. 

*Tm not asking you to do anything contrary to your own 
faith or your beliefs. This night means much to a great many 
of the men in your command; many others, to whom it means 
nothing but a holiday, have promised to come and sing 
Christmas carols. I have assured them that their officers not 
only approve but will be there with them! As I see it, you 
have no choice!" 

Klein sputtered, but Moscowitz stopped the onslaught by 
stepping between them. "Father, you've already voiced the 
big objection. Most of the men will be off base, celebrating. 
Most of them have passes.'* 

"They'll be there," Lynch said. "And so will their officers, 
including their C.O., if I've got to get a court order to get 
"em there!'* 

"But why? For pete's sake . . ? Klein began. 

"Let's say as a good example/' Lynch grinned, "Or, per- 
haps, just to prove to the guys that the upper echelon ap- 
proves of church on principle. Besides, I promise you it 
won't hurt. And I know you'll enjoy the carols/* 

*Tm sure of it/' Klein said, sarcastically. 

Lynch nodded, accepting the statement at face value. 
"And you, Tex? I can count on you, of course?" 

*Hey, wait a minute!" Klein began. "I didn't say , . .** 

"Better make it eleven-thirty, Colonel," Lynch said. "First 

24 



Father Cyclone 

come first served and no seats reserved. We're using the 
amphitheater." 

"In this rain?" Moscowitz asked. 

"Oh, it'll clear/' Lynch said. "You U be there-and you'll 


see. 

Moscowitz looked at Klein and waited. The officer 
shrugged. "It seems we have no choice, Al," he said. 



25 



CHAPTER TWO 



Glenn Kittler watched through the canvas curtain as the 
bareheaded soldier, collar turned inside, got out of the jeep 
driven by Moscowitz and headed for the office. He had not 
remembered until that moment that Father Stearns, the Navy 
priest who was coming to say the Midnight Mass, should 
have been informed of the new chaplain's arrival. He de- 
cided to wait until after the new chaplain's entrance to do 
so; it was one way he could express his displeasure at the 
treatment he had received. 

Bad enough to keep him hanging around, wondering 
what was happening; worse still to go to see Klein before 
checking in. But when he thought of that backslapping af- 
front, his face flushed. 

He doused his cigarette and returned quickly to his desk, 
glad he had a sheet of paper in the typewriter. He had de- 
cided that a start would be appropriate when Lynch en- 
tered, but it was genuine when he heard the chaplain's first 
words. 

26 



Father Cyclone 

"It's a pretty small chapel for the whole 42nd Battalion 
so well have to have the Midnight Mass in the amphi- 
theater/" 

Kittler wasn't aware of standing. Til have to call Father 
Steams," he heard himself say. "He was coming to say the 
Mass, but now you're here. . . ." 

Lynch chuckled. "Don't. As long as he doesn't know I'm 
here. . . ." 

Unwittingly, Kittler betrayed himself. "You think there's 
anybody on the whole island doesn't know a Catholic chap- 
lain arrived and vanished for four hours?" 

"Feel you've been badly treated, Champ?" Lynch grinned. 

"It's not that, Father," Kittler began, mollified in spite of 
himself. "It's only that . . ." 

"Forget it," Lynch said. "On second thought, call Father 
Stearns. Tell him I'd appreciate it if he'd say the Mass at 
the amphitheater. And pass the word around: Christmas 
carols will begin at eleven-thirty." 

"Yes, sir," Kittler said. "Anything else?" 

"Sure," the priest nodded, head cocked in what Kittler was 
to learn was a characteristic mannerism. "Plenty. But right 
now I've got things to do." 

He left as quickly as he had come, but Kittler watched 
him go into the chapel before he picked up the telephone 
to call the Naval base. 



27 



Father Cyclone 



Father Lawrence Lynch stood inside the chapel and took 
stock of his surroundings. It was no different from other 
army chapels except that it was smaller, and the floor, espe- 
cially near the partition which separated the altar from the 
sacristy, was warped and uneven. The altar itself was noth- 
ing but a long table on a platform, to the right of which was 
a small table placed there for the use of Catholic priests 
during Mass. 

All the lightness of step, the assurance, and the swagger- 
ing impudence were gone now as the priest knelt at the 
foot of the altar. His eyes picked out the American flag in 
one corner; slowly, his dark head bent in prayer. 

"O Lady of Perpetual Help-by that name I beg you, 
help me to do the Will of my God and My Lord. Beloved 
Mother, show me the way to do what I have been sent here 
to do. You know what I want, my Mother, Yet it is not my 
will, but the Will of your Beloved Son which must be 
obeyed; teach me to obey, to say with sincere humility, as 
He said: "Thy Will be done, O Godl" 

"Your Beloved Son can refuse you nothing. Ask Him to 
look with favor on my prayers and with pity on my weak- 
nesses; ask Him to make me strong, always right in His 
work; ask Him to show me the way to be all things to all 
men, to know, understand, and love these men to whom I 
have been sent; ask Him to teach me how to make them 
know and love you, my Mother, as I do, so that in time of 

28 



Father Cyclone 

need they will tarn to you by that name which you, your- 
self, have given us, Our Lady of Perpetual Help. 

"My Lady of Perpetual Help, with you by my side, I can- 
not fail. Help me now, as you have helped me all the days 
of my life. I need you more than I have ever needed your 
help so that I can be I must be the finest chaplain in the 
finest army in the world. Help me, Lady of Perpetual Help. 
Help me to do better than my best, for the greater glory of 
your Beloved Son, my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen." 

He knelt still for a moment, made the sign of the cross 
and stood up, shoulders straight, face alight. 

He turned to leave the chapel and a subtle change came 
over him. The jaunty swagger returned to his walk, that 
calm insouciance appeared in the lift of his head. It was as 
if he deliberately masked all the warmth and reverence 
within himself, hiding the depth of feeling, the love which 
was part and parcel of his vocation. 



The amphitheater used by the whole 42nd QM Battalion 
Mobile for such things as movies, shows and general gath- 
erings of all kinds was an old, deep quarry two miles outside 
the town of Noumea. High up in the center of the quarry, 
on a raised platform not unlike a boxing ring, a long table 
had been set up and covered by a white altar cloth on which 
a crucifix and candles had been placed. To the right of it a 
smaller table held the tiny wine and water jugs and the 
small finger bowl for use during the Mass. 

29 



Father Cyclone 

As Lynch had predicted, the rain had stopped and the 
night was clear. Stars hung low so many and so close that 
they made the darkness lighter, seeming to outline the 
benches around the circle of the quarry. 

Kittler arrived a few minutes after eleven with the vest- 
ments and a folding table to put them on. His annoyance at 
the priest was renewed. Lynch had gone off with the jeep, 
leaving him to choose between an army truck loaded with 
men and walking. Laden as he was, it didn't make for 
equanimity. 

"Where do you usually set out the vestments?** Lynch 
asked, and when Kittler showed him, the chaplain shook his 
head. "No. Put the table there out front where all the men 
can see it. I'm going to hear confessions. When Father 
Stearns gets here, tell him to take that other confessional box 
over there. After you've laid out the vestments, get up front 
and let the guys know we're waiting/' 

Off to one side of the quarry Lynch had arranged two 
small, roped-off sections each with a screen. He went to the 
one he had indicated and sat behind the screen waiting. He 
didn't have long to wait, and Kittler didn't have to let any- 
body know. Before he finished arranging the vestments, a 
long queue of men had formed outside the section where 
the priest sat. 

The men drifted in slowly at first, but gradually the 
benches began to fill. By half -past eleven even those benches 
with canvas backs, usually reserved for officers during a 
show, were filled, and when all the benches were filled men 
squatted down wherever there was any available space 

30 



Father Cyclone 

even to the rocky sides, aisles, and tree stumps on the outer 
rim of the arena. 

At precisely eleven-thirty, two things happened simul- 
taneously. Glenn Kittler's eyes opened in shocked surprise 
when he saw Lt. Col. Julius Klein, closely followed by Lt. 
Alvin Moscowitz, edging their way through one of the nar- 
row aisles. The men on the front seats moved closer to each 
other to make room for them. 

At the moment of their appearance, the glorious voice of 
"a guy named Goldstein'' a clear, trained tenorbegan to 
sing "It came upon the midnight clear . . .* and before he 
started the chorus, he commanded: "Now, everybody!" and 
the singing slowly increased in volume as more and more 
voices joined in. 

Father Stearns had arrived and gone to the second confes- 
sional, and the lines of men kept moving and forming before 
each one. 

The unseen voice led the men through most of the better- 
known Christmas carols. But, as if by common consent, the 
men did not join the voice when it lifted into the beautiful 
"Silent Night." 

The two priests came forward together. Father Stearns 
made no move to don his vestments, waiting instead while 
Lynch stepped to the edge of the platform. Lynch stood 
there until the last note had died. 

He spoke then, his voice clear and distinct enough to 
carry to the outermost edge of the arena. 

"I am Father Lawrence Lynch and I'm from Brooklyn!" 
It had a pseudo-defiance, a suggestion of swagger which had 
the effect he obviously expected. A chuckle began, spread 

31 



Father Cyclone 

rapidly, billowed into a full laugh. Lynch waited until it 
began to fade, then like an actor taking his cue: "I'm God's 
gift to the army and to you guys!" and again the laugh 
spread, easier this time and faster. 

Now,, at the exact moment when he knew his audience was 
with him, Lynch began to talk to them. He spoke quietly, 
almost to each man individually. 

"There are some of you guys here who won't understand 
what's happening up here, but that's okay. All you've got to 
do is pray as you'd pray in your own church. But that's not 
to say you won't be interested in what's going on. 

"Father Stearns of the Navy will celebrate the Mass, Be- 
fore he begins, there's a lot even Catholics should know and 
I'll bet a nickel there are some right here who couldn't ex- 
plain why a priest wears all those vestments, for example. 
Well, it's time we all knew why and it won't hurt you non- 
Catholics to know either. 

"Father Stearns will begin to put on his vestments, and 
while he does, well talk about them a little. First, as to the 
why. Every one of them is a symbol, a symbol of service to 
God." He picked up the amice and held it high. "This, for 
example. It's just a piece of linen, and it is called an amice: 
A-M-I-C-E. Jesus was blindfolded, and the amice represents 
that blindfold. Okay, Father.'' 

He extended the amice to Father Stearns who put it on. 

"Herod placed a garment on Jesus to make a fool of Him. 
You remember thatl This white robe white to signify purity 
is an alb: A-L-B, and the alb is symbolic of that garment. 
Incidentally^ there are six colors used by the church and 
each one of them is significant: white for purity and joy, red 

32 



Father Cyclone 

for blood and fire, green is the symbol of hope, violet for 
penance. . . ." 

Glenn Kittler's attention wandered. He knew all this; he 
had been a seminarian before he was drafted. Now he was 
interested in the reactions of these men. They listened! All 
of them leaning forward, intent on what the priest was say- 
ing, liking it. 

At last Father Stearns was ready, but Lynch wasn't fin- 
ished. 

"Now, we're ready to begin the Mass, but first, there's 
something I want you to know. That golden, God-given 
voice you guys have been listening to belongs to Isadore 
Goldstein. I think we should give him a hand. What about 
it?" 

The applause was instant. Lynch nodded. "I knew you'd 
feel that way," he said when it began to die. "Any ques- 
tions?" He waited, grinned. "I've got to hand it to you! Tve 
been hearing that this is the swellest outfit on the island; I 
didn't believe it, but youVe confirmed it; and when I see all 
you Catholic men at the communion rail, 111 be sure of it. Ill 
be in the confessional if there's anybody hasn't been yet. 
God bless you and keep you happy always." 

To the men who were there, it was unforgettable, and 
when Isadore Goldstein's voice began the immortal "Adeste 
Fidelis," their eyes were bright with unshed tears. 

Silently, after the Mass, the men drifted off into the star- 
lit night. At the edge of the amphitheater, Klein stopped and 
looked over his shoulder. Kittler, standing by waiting for a 
lift back to town, heard him say, as if to himself: *Tm glad I 

33 



Father Cyclone 

didn't miss that!" And close beside him, Moscowitz an- 
swered, "So am I." 

Kittler shook his head, wondering at their attendance. It 
confirmed his worst fears; Klein wanted to see Lynch in 
operation before putting in for him. Well, he saw him. If 
that wasn't a show! His interpretation of Lynch and Lynch's 
motives were also confirmed, and Glenn Kittler didn't ap- 
prove. 

Of course Lynch would take advantage of his priestly 
privilege of saying three Masses tomorrow Christmas Day. 
And sure as sure, he'd start the first one at some ungodly 
hour, six o'clock probably, before a man had a chance to get 
a decent breakfast. 

This thought brought him face to face with what could 
be the one bright star in a gloomy sky. Now that there was a 
new chaplain on base, McCarthy might relent. He could 
even put up with Lynch for eggs cooked by Dejeune on 
Sunday mornings instead of the glutinous mess, cold and 
scrambled, he had had since Father Svedas left. The trouble 
was getting the precious eggs from the chief cook; you'd 
think they were diamonds the way McCarthy hoarded them. 
And the way Dejeune cooked eggs . . . Kittler's mouth wa- 
tered in pleasant anticipation. 



He woke with the morning sun streaming through his 
window and lay still, listening. His watch said eight-fifteen! 
Either the new chaplain had overslept, which Kittler 

34 



Father Cyclone 

doubted, or Fogarty was on hand to serve. Odd they hadn't 
called him. Not that it mattered; Frank Fogarty had helped 
him serve Masses for Father Svedas. 

The thought of his former chaplain reminded him of his 
determination to tackle McCarthy. He moved swiftly, dress- 
ing with no waste motion, and headed for the cookshack. 
McCarthy was having another cup of coffee; Kittler couldn't 
remember ever seeing him without a cup of coffee. 

"Merry Christmas, Mac." He sounded bright and cheery. 

"Merry hell," McCarthy grunted. "And 'tis no use what- 
ever atall wastin* your time or mine in pretty words this 
mornin*. I ain't got one extra egg for nobody this day. Fur- 
thermore, there ain't one left in the whole o' New Caledonia, 
and from now on in, there ain't never gonna be no eggs for 
no padres and their servers on Sundays." 

The finality of it was discouraging, but Kittler wasn't to 
be beaten so easily when his own personal desires were con- 
cerned. He tried a new tack. 

"We got us a new chaplain, Mac. And he's terrific. You 
shoulda been at that Mass last night; why he had the guys 
eating right out of his hand! Besides, it's Christmas!" 

McCarthy continued to sip his coffee, completely un- 
moved. Kittler tried again. 

"Be reasonable, Mac. Am I asking you to cook them? 
After all, if a fancy chef like Dejeune is willing . . ." 

It was wrong and he knew it immediately. McCarthy got 
up and put his cup down emphatically. "And who the bloody 
hell is Dejeune? Jest because he happened to be a fifth-rate 
cook for one of them fancy hotels don't make him nobody. 
Dejeune!" he spat. "As if that sissy Frenchie knows anything 

35 



Father Cyclone 

about cooking! Why, if I wanted to cook, eggs or anything 
else, b'gosh, I'd show him." 

"But I couldn't ask you to do that, Mac! With all the work 
you do around here/' 

"That's no lie. If they'd give a guy some help in this 
damned army, but no. You got to get raw rookies and teach 
'em, and soon's you get 'em trained, they steal 'em away and 
ship 'em to another outfit. Now, if I was running this 
thing. . . /' 

Kittler had heard all this many times. He wasn't going to 
let it defeat him now, but he had no intention of letting it 
go on and on. 

"You're absolutely right, Mac. And it's because I know 
how busy you are that I asked Dejeune to cook the eggs for 
us. I couldn't ask you to waste your good time like that." 

"No eggs," McCarthy said, picking up his cup again. 

"Make it four, Mac," Kittler pleaded. "Two for the padre 
and one each for Fogarty and me. We've gotta eat! And the 
last Mass won't be over until . . ." 

"Don't be afther givin' me no sob story," McCarthy 
snapped. "There'll be no more eggs every Sunday for no chap- 
lain and no servers. If you want eggs Sundays, you get here 
for regular mess call and eat eggs like everybody else/' Hav- 
ing said his say, he could afford to be interested. "Hey, I 
hear this guy's Irish and he comes from Brooklyn." 

Kittler changed his method of attack. "Mac, you never 
met anybody like him, ever! He's really a great guyone of 
the best. And you should hear him boast about coming from 
Brooklyn." He chuckled. "God's gift to the Army and you 
guysl That's what he told the fellows, and they swallowed 

36 



Father Cyclone 

it, every word. Pity a guy like that can't get a decent break- 
fast on Christmas morningafter saying three Masses too. 
He's a right guy and Irish? Why he's as Irish as ... as 
. . . you are!" 

McCarthy nodded, interested. "I'll have to meet up with 
him. He sounds all right/' 

"And how'll you feel when he thanks you for the eggs? 
Swell, is all. I tell you, he's got a way with him." 

"Guess maybe I gotta make an exception, but only be- 
cause it's Christmas, mind. But if you think any Frenchie's 
gonna louse up my good eggs I hadda scrounge all over 
Noumea t' get so's I could make ice cream on account of it's 
Christmas, you're crazy." 

Kittler moved quickly, his elation tempered by fear of 
what McCarthy would do with the eggs and tihie knowledge 
of what Dejeune could do with them. "You're a pal, Mac, 
but I couldn't ask you to stop what you're doing just to fix 
us eggs. But thanks. Thanks a lot." He scooped up six eggs 
and was halfway out of the door when McCarthy yelled. 

"Hey! I thought you said four!" 

"It's Christmas, Mac. Christmas! See you." 

He hurried off to find Dejeune, elated at his success 
never dreaming that he wouldn't taste the eggs at all. 



37 



CHAPTER THREE 



The army technical manual for chaplains is quite specific 
as to the duties and qualifications of the chaplain's assistant: 
he must be "a man of integrity, commanding the respect of 
officers and men, pleasant and obliging, neat and gentle- 
manly, malting a good appearance at all times." 

Further along in the manual, additional requirements are 
stated. The chaplain's assistant must be skilled in operating 
office equipment and motion picture machines, he must 
play an instrument and lead in singing, assist at services and 
be acquainted with the necessary items for properly con- 
ducting services of faiths other than his own. He should 
know how to pitch and strike a tent, drive and repair a car, 
have not less than a high school educationpreferably col- 
legeand, among other things, know fully ten different 
technical manuals. 

But there was nothing in the manual to teach Glenn Kit- 
tier how to cope with Father Lawrence E. Lynch of Brook- 
lyn. 

38 



Father Cyclone 

Courtesy requires that the assistant wait until the priest 
has finished his last Mass and said his prayers of thanksgiv- 
ing before having his own breakfast. Kittler had already set 
up a small table in the "office" as he had been in the habit 
of doing for Father Svedas. As usual it was set for three, 
since obviously, Frank Fogarty would have to eat with them 
as he had always done before. 

In the center of the table, covered now to keep them 
warm, was the dish of cooked eggs . . . eggs as only De- 
Jeune could fix them, eggs which had become tradition in 
the exclusive hotel and to the epicurean clientele of that 
hotel made famous by Dejeune; eggs such as Kittler had 
not had in months! 

Kittler was proud of his achievement both in getting the 
eggs and getting Dejeune to cook them, but most of all, he 
was looking forward to eating them again. When Lynch sat 
at the table at last, Kittler lifted the cover with a flourish, and 
waited for the priest to express his appreciation, 

Larry Lynch looked at the eggs, glanced at his assistant, 
then sat down, pulled the platter to him, and began eating 
with gusto. "Gosh, Tm starved/ 7 he mumbled, mouth full. 
"They sure grow eggs small around here, But these taste 
good." 

Fogarty, standing near Kittler, moved forward, but 
stopped, his mouth open to speak. Kittler glared. He wanted 
to stomp out of the shack but could not. 

"In f act," Lynch was saying, "these taste near as good as 
my Mom's and thafs saying plenty. She used to appreciate 
good eggsl Sometimes we said she thought more of eggs 
than of . . " He stopped, laughed, started again: <C I re- 

39 



Father Cyclone 

member when I was nine and the kids wanted waffles. I was 
the oldest and my sister, Mary you'd love Mary she's ter- 
rific. Even Mary didn't approve really of four eggs in the 
batter. And when she saw the pile of waffles left after we'd 
stuffed ourselves to bursting/' He laughed again, seemingly 
wholly oblivious of the antagonism of his audience. 

Fogarty looked stunned. From infancy, he had been 
schooled to think of priests as beings set apart, superior to 
other mortals, incapable of doing anything which was not 
absolutely right. 

Lynch, now more than halfway through the platter of 
eggs, ignored both men and continued his story. "I think it 
was Mary's idea hiding what was left over under the bath- 
tub, but what a whaling I got when Mom found them a 
month later hoary with mold! You see, it was Mary's chore 
to keep that bathroom clean and . . ." He stopped abruptly, 
contritely, as if suddenly aware of the two men who stood 
watching him. 

"Say! I'm sorry. Of course I should've asked you to have 
somel They were really swell. Fact is, I figgered you'd rather 
have your breakfast at the beach it being Christmas and 
all. I've been hearing about a right nice beach called the 
Plaine de Gaiac." 

Stony silence from Kittler, and an embarrassed shuffle 
from Fogarty, but Lynch pretended not to notice either. 

'1 heard the guys talking about it. Said the swimming was 
good and some good spots for food up there. Quite a resort, 
I hear." 

"Sure," Kittler snapped, goaded beyond prudence. "It's 

40 



Father Cyclone 

well known around here. Not far either. Only take a couple 
of weeks to walk there." 

His bitterness gave Fogarty the courage he needed. "A 
nice, hot, long walk not much more 'n a coupla sixty miles 
or so." 

"Really?" Lynch was amazed. "You mean youVe actually 
tried it?" Fogarty shuffled again, but Kittler only glared. 
"Seems kind of silly to me to waste time talking when there's 
a jeep outside all tanked up and ready to roll," 

It was Fogarty who picked it up. Kittler's eyes narrowed in 
suspicion as he studied the priest closely, wondering what 
the man planned now. 

"You mean your jeep, Father?" 

"Somebody might as well get the benefit of it," Lynch 
shrugged, pouring himself another cup of coffee, so busy 
that he did not see Fogarty nudge Kittler toward the door 
as if afraid the priest might change his mind. "I've got things 
to do and I won't be needing it today, but of course if you'd 
rather not . . ." 

They were at the door when he called: "Oh, Glenn! Thanks 
for the eggs. They really were swell." 

"He sure is a peculiar guy, ain't he, Eat?" Fogarty asked 
as he climbed into the jeep. 

"What do you mean peculiar?" Kittler grunted, starting 
the motor. 

"Like them eggs. You know, I think he did that deliber- 
ately." 

"You think?" Kittler said. "If you re talking about the way 
he gobbled 'em up, where d'you get that 'think' stuff? He 
knew as well as we did they weren't all six for him." 

41 



Father Cyclone 

"Sure. But that ain't what I mean. Seems like he figgered 
maybe he'd give us the jeep but on account of he couldn't 
do it for no reason, he made us mad first so*s he could sort 
of make it up like/* 

"Nuts, he didn't even think about the jeep till he was al- 
most finished/' 

"Could be," Fogarty said. "But seems like he's tryin' to 
start out right with us is what I mean/* 

"Well, he's sure doing his damnedest to start out on the 
wrong foot, at least with me/' Kittler pressed the accelerator 
and made a sharp turn into the road leading toward the 
beach. "If he had a reason, he managed to hide it all right, 
till he hit on this idea of the jeep/' 

Fogarty shook his head. "I dunno, Kit. I got me an idea 
when this padre does things, he does 7 em on account of he's 
got a reason/* 

"Have it that way if you want/* Kittler said, "but it won't 
make me feel any better about those eggs." 



Alvin Moscowitz pushed to one side the stack of papers 
spread out before him and scowled at the clock on his desk. 
It was one of those fancy gadgets given to him just before he 
sailed, and it showed, in addition to the hour and the date, 
a notation of the holiday: "Christmas Day 1943/' 

The small shack was steaming. A wave of nostalgia swept 
over Moscowitz . . . Christmastime in New York! Shops 

42 



Father Cyclone 

filled with people, glittering lights, a cold snap in the air, 
maybe even some dirty snow or slush underfoot. 

Nothing of Christinas here. Not even a feeling of war 
they were so far from any fighting. Just deadly monotony 
and the sun. 

The hopelessness of trying to build a defense for Jackson 
added to his depression. It was so futile, yet the man had to 
be defended. That damning confession which Jackson now 
insisted was a lie. Was it signed under duress? Was Jackson 
innocent as he tried to make his defense counsel believe? 
Moscowitz sighed. He almost wished he knew less of what 
happened when a suspected criminal was arrested by the 
MP's. Or that he knew Jackson better. 

Alvin Moscowitz did not hear Lynch come in. When the 
priest spoke, he jumped up, startled. 

"Not bad, Tex. Not bad atall," Lynch said, casually sur- 
veying the small room. 

"Good morning, Father. I'm sorry, I didn't hear you 
knock." 

"I didn't," Lynch grinned. "Got an office all to himself, 
cosy and snug, and just because I pop in without knocking, 
he acts like he's been caught in the act. What gives?" 

Moscowitz laughed. "You startled me, Padre. I wasn't ex- 
pecting a visitor. I've been trying to work but this 
heat . . ." 

Larry Lynch nodded sympathetically. "That, and the fact 
that you're having trouble with your case?" 

"You . . . know about that?" 

"Oh, I get around," Lynch said. "You know, Tex, it's really 
amazing how just talking a thing out can help to clarify the 

43 



Father Cyclone 
issues involved. What about it? You feel like talking?*' 

Moscowitz hesitated. "It's no use, Padre. These past weeks 
Tve talked to every man in Noumea who was anywhere near 
Jackson that night. It was like boxing with a blindfold on. 
Tve been investigating officer for some time now, but this 
case . . . IVe sweated out the damn thing . . . excuse me, 
sir." 

"Skip it. Now let's get down to essentials." Lynch, sitting 
on a camp stool, stretched out his legs, lit a cigarette and 
asked, "What* re you trying to do, Tex? You've thought your- 
self out of your sense of perspective. It's time you shifted 
some of the load to other shoulders. I hear tell the charge is 
assault and battery." 

Technically, at first. But the Kanaka died, so that makes 
it assault and battery with intent to kill, and that's murder.'' 

Lynch sat up straight. "Ouch! Not even manslaughter?'' 

"Manslaughter precludes malice. In this case, the intent 
was to kill, according to Jackson's own signed confession." 

"What about the weapon?" 

"The Kanaka was stabbed six times. When the MFs 
picked up Jackson, he had the knife in his hand. That, and 
the confession he signed, looks open and shut," 

"But you don't believe it. That's it, Tex?" 

Moscowitz looked at the priest and nodded. "I keep tell- 
ing myself the confession must be true, that if s a hopeless 
case . . . and all the while, I know it's not. Jackson told me 
he'd signed it 'because the MP's made him do it* ... but 
I could find no indication of duress. And believe me, Padre, 
if Jackson had one sign of duress on his person, I'd have 
seen it* 

44 



Father Cyclone 

"Suppose there wasn't. Jackson has, I take it, repudiated 
the confession. Is it possible that he did sign it under one 
form of duress or another?" 

"Almost anything is possible, Father. But I'd say this would 
be highly improbable/* Moscowitz leaned forward. "Besides, 
in addition to the confession, there's the knife/* 

"The knife?" Lynch sat up straight. "What about the 
knife?" 

"Jackson was arrested almost immediately after the stab- 
bing. The arresting officer reported that his knife had blood 

*> 
on it 

"Whose blood?" Lynch asked. 

"The Kanaka's, presumably." 

"Are you telling me it wasn't tested?" 

Moscowitz shrugged. "With a signed confession, plenty 
of opportunity, and a bloody knife at the scene of the crime, 
Father, the prosecution thinks so little of Jackson's possible 
innocence, they didn't even bother to have it tested." 

"But they'll enter it in evidence?" 

"Naturally," Moscowitz said. "It's the crux of their case/' 

Lynch leaned over the desk. "Tex, you're unhappy about 
that knife. Why? And why haven't you demanded a test of 
it?" He waited a moment then went on. "Are you afraid?" 

"I can't jeopardize my client's one small chance, Father. 
If Jackson is innocent " 

"A man is innocent until proven guilty," Lynch quoted 
softly. "You're not convinced he is innocent, is that it?" 

"To tell the truth, I'm not sure. But I'll say this, Father. 
If I can't prove to myself the innocence of this man, 111 ask 
to be withdrawn from the case." 

45 



Father Cyclone 

"Which brings us back to the signed confession. Tex, you're 
investigating officer of the battalion?'* 

Moscowitz looked at Lynch, surprised at die shift. "Yes. 
Why?" 

"As such, youVe seen a good many arrests, 111 bet." 

"I don't see what . . ." 

"Did you ever see an arresting MP handle a prisoner with 
kid gloves?*' 

"You're a bit off the course, Padre,'' Moscowitz said. 
"Sometimes, especially when a man's been drinking, making 
an arrest can be a dangerous business." 

"Right. But let's face it. The boys can play rough, espe- 
cially if they're convinced of a man's guilt, and need a con- 
fession to cinch it." 

"All right Now what?" 

"Now you tell me Jackson has repudiated his confession, 
but it's his word against that of the MP's who got the con- 
fession. Did you ask him about the knife?" Moscowitz 
nodded, waiting. "Did Jackson admit he'd used it to you, 
I mean?'* 

"He denied it emphatically. This is one reason I'm not 
quite convinced he's not innocent. He sounded truthful." 
Moscowitz got up and began pacing the small office. "If I 
could convince myself he & innocent . . ." 

"The knife might prove it," Lynch said. 

"It might also do the reverse," Moscowitz said. He stopped 
before Lynch, in his expression a mixture of stubborn pride, 
pity, and disdain for the priest's lack of comprehension. 
"Without an official report by an expert, I can cast doubt on 
bloodstains. With a lab test and report-heck, Padre, if Jack- 

46 



Father Cyclone 

son cut his own finger six months ago playing mumblety- 
peg, and one speck of his own blood showeddon't you see 
what it could do to his case?" 

Lynch was silent for a moment. Then he nodded. "YouVe 
got a point there." He cocked his head, mulling over the 
matter. Then he asked, "What about Jackson? Tell me about 
him." 

"What do you want to know? He's from Kentucky, a young 
Negro with little education. . . ." 

"No." Lynch brushed it aside. "What about his character? 
The man himself . . . his record?" 

"Here's his record," Moscowitz said, pulling it out of a 
sheaf of papers. "A clean record, Padre. Not even a D-and-D 
charge for three years in the army. This time: drunk and dis- 
orderly, assault and . . ." He stopped, pushed the papers 
away impatiently. "If he hadn't signed that blasted confes- 
sion!" 

"How well do you know Jackson, Tex?" 

"Not half as well as I'd like to. I know he's scared. When 
he tries to tell me he signed the confession under duress, he 
gets so worked up he's almost inarticulate. I saw him that 
same day. There was no evidence of any rough stuff." 

Lynch hunched his shoulders, leaning forward. "The for- 
est and the trees? You're too close to the whole business. 
YouVe been stewing over it too long. And when you talk 
with your client, you worry and fret over him so much." 

Moscowitz grinned slightly. "What are you trying to sell 
me, Father Larry?" 

"It's a bit difficult for you to make a fair estimate of Jack- 
son's character, and yet, you can't reconcile the man's record 

47 



Father Cyclone 

with the confession he signed. Add to that the knowledge 
that only by testing the knife can you prove to yourself 
Jackson's positive innocence or guilt it's no wonder you find 
it difficult to know your client. You're about to send me on 
a mission, Lieutenant." 

"It's difficult to see what can be accomplished." 

"Are you willing to admit your personal interest in this 
man makes it difficult for you to judge his character?" 

"To a certain extent, yes." 

"Would you be willing to accept my judgment of Jackson? 
Wait, Tex. You've admitted you hesitate to have that knife 
tested because it could seal your client's fate. Now I want to 
knowif after I've talked with your client, my estimate of 
the man forces you to take that risk . . . ?" He watched 
Moscowitz through narrowed eyes. 

Moscowitz raised his head after a moment of silence, 
looked straight at Lynch and nodded. "I believe I would, 
Father Larry." 

"Good," Lynch said. "Now, when did you last see Jack- 
son?" 

"This morning. I had to explain the rules; the meaning and 
effect of pleading guilty, his right to testify or refuse, to make 
a statement or not, to oh, all the stuff the manual says a 
prisoner has a right to know before . . ." 

Lynch was on his feet. "I'll be seeing you, Lieutenant." 



48 



Father Cyclone 



A narrow-gauge railway connected Paita with Noumea, 
but trains on it were few and those which ran were slow. 
The alternative was a long, tortuous road around a moun- 
tain with straight cliffs on one side and a sheer drop to the 
sea on the other. Forty miles from town, this road wound 
inland through dense jungles and finally onto a broad plain. 

Swaying white naoli trees and broad-leaved banana plants 
gave a graceful, leafy beauty to the stockade that once had 
been a native village but now housed U.S. Army prisoners 
and Japanese prisoners of war. The buildings were of native 
origin, with whitewashed mud walls and thatched roofs. 
Great ferns and twisted, knotted shrubs twined over some, 
adding an air of coolness and repose, an atmosphere of peace 
and restful shade. 

Such was the stockade of Paita. 

Here a prisoner's inalienable rights included three square 
meals a day, specified time off for recreation, specified time 
off for rest, no more than an eight-hour workday and all Sun- 
days free . . . from work at least. 

There was a chapel at Paita, a lovely, pleasant little place, 
spotlessly clean, restfully cool. The sizzling heat of down- 
town Noumea could not penetrate here; an old bamboo 
altar, built long ago by French missionaries, had many floral 
decorations, as had the whitewashed stone-paved walls. 

49 



Father Cyclone 

At the foot of tills altar, Larry Lynch knelt, dark head 
bent low in prayer. 

"Beloved Mother of Perpetual Help, here I am once 
again in supplication, begging help for one of your children. 
Show me the way to help this boy; give me the right words 
so that I may learn the truth and help him to face it with 
courage. Teach me how to reach him, to make him know 
that you and I together can help him. It may be that this is 
the reason your Beloved Son has placed me here; He can 
refuse you nothing, my Mother. Ask Him to look with favor 
on my work, to guide my words and rny steps, to give me 
strength and understanding. 

"My Lady of Perpetual Helpby that name you call your- 
self, I call on you now. I need your help that I may help 
this boy to know you and to love you, and through you, that 
he may come to know and adore your Divine Son, my Lord 
Jesus Christ, as I do. Amen/' 

He made the sign of the cross and stood, shoulders 
squared, face alight. Outside the chapel, the confident 
swagger returned. His step was light and quick as he walked 
into the sunlight. 



Mervin Jackson did not move from the stool on which he 
sat and did not, at first, look up at his visitor. But when his 
eye caught sight of the captain's bars on LyncKs outturned 

50 



Father Cyclone 

collar, Mervin Jackson rose Immediately, standing at atten- 
tion, eyes bloodshot, staring straight ahead. 

"Sit down, Mervin," Lynch said gently. The soldier looked 
directly at him, and in so doing, saw the tiny cross on his 
lapel. He stiffened and remained standing. "Mind if I visit 
with you a spell?" Lynch asked. 

"I don't want no padre," Jackson said sullenly. "I ain't 
been sentence yet/' 

Lynch moved closer, put one hand on the man's shoulder, 
gently forced him back to the stool. "Feeling mighty sorry 
for yourself, aren't you?" 

"I don't want no padre." 

"Just as easy to feel sorry for yourself sitting as standing," 
the chaplain said. "You're getting a rough deal, aren't you, 
feller?" 

"I don't want no padre," Jackson repeated. 

Lynch nodded. "Can't say I blame you. Say, I read that 
confession you signed. What'd you want to do a thing like 
that for when it's a lie?" 

Surprise caused the black head to jerk upward, forcing 
the sullen antagonism momentarily into the background. It 
was followed by suspicion and fear, and Jackson opened his 
mouth with * C I don't . . ." but Lynch stopped him with a 
merry laugh. 

"I know. You don't want no padre. But what I want to 
know is why you signed that paper. You don't look like a 
guy would use a knife on anybody not even a Kanak." 

"I ain't use no knife on nobody," Jackson snapped, lips 
clamping shut on the words. 

Lynch smiled. "That's what I figured. So why did you say 

51 



Father Cyclone 

in the confession you did? Lieutenant Moscowitz says you 
told him it's not trueand I know it's not true because you 
can't lie to me. Nobody can lie to me, Mervin/' 

The Negro might not have heard, he showed so little in- 
terest. He sat still, leaning forward, chin on his hand, staring 
at the floor. 

"When 1 was twelve years old," Lynch said, conversation- 
ally, "a girl in my school nearly got kicked out because an- 
other girl said the first one had beat her up, hurt her, and 
tore off her dress. Even her own mother didn't believe her 
when she said it wasn't true, but I did. She looked into my 
eyes- and I knew she couldn't lie to me. So we went back to 
the school, and we got that other kid before the teacher and 
she had to admit she had been the one who lied/' 

Mervin Jackson glanced at the priest, returned his gaze to 
the floor, sullen once again. 

"All youVe got to do is tell the truth, Mervin, and stick to 
It. But youVe got to stick to it. Now, look at me/* 

The Negro looked up and into the dark eyes of the priest. 
He was not aware that he appraised the man who had come 
to see him or that he judged this stranger. He was not con- 
scious of having made any decision about Father Lynch, but 
the priest knew, and knowing, smiled gently. 

"All right, Mervin. Let's have itfrom the beginning/' 

"I ain't mucha a-muchness on no church atall," Jackson 
said, but Lynch merely waited, and the soldier went on. 

"We wuz drinkin' beer in town, me and a gang from the 
platoon. We coulda been a mite high, and when we come 
back to the truck, the Kanaks standin' by begin makin* dirty 
cracks like they does. Us guys wasn't gonna let no Kanaks 

52 



Father Cyclone 

get by with that, so we crack right back. Then one of them 
throw a rock at Rodriquez. 

"Ev'body know Rod's my buddy; we been together since 
we-all hit basic, and when I see him all over blood . . I 
git mad. I grab my knife, open it ... and them Kanakas 
run off! You ever see Kanaks fade in the dark? Wasn't more'n 
a second and they was all gone. 

<c We follow themfive of us. Me and another guy catch 
onebut when I see he ain't the one throwed the rock, I turn 
back. I figger Rod's hurted bad, but he weren't there.** The 
toneless recital stopped briefly, then went on. 

"While I was in the lockup, I hear tell one of our fellers 
catch the Kanak threw the rock on'y he was so big he beat 
up our guy somethin' fierce. So then the soldier used his 
knife. Couple other guys from the platoon got him away 
from therebut I didn't know a Kanak was kilt. 

"So after I see Rod's gone, I started outa the bushes. I sea 
them MP's comin', but I didn't know they wuz gonna pick 
me up. I ain't done nothin'. So help ine, that's ail-as I know. 
I come walkin* outa the bushes and they grab me. I didn't 
know nothin* 'bout no dead Kanak. I ain't done nothin', 
nothin* atalH" 

Lynch said nothing for a few moments after that quiet 
voice stopped. At last the bloodshot eyes in the dark, tor- 
tured face looked up at the priest. Lynch merely nodded, 
extending his pack of cigarettes. 

They sat smoking companionably. Mervin Jackson had 
lost some of his sullen despondency. The priest studied him 
without appearing to do so, searching for an approach to 

53 



Father Cyclone 

the questions he wanted answered, an approach which would 
not make the Negro crawl back into his silence. 

"The MP*s reported there was blood on your knife," he 
said. It was a flat statement to be answered or not as Jack- 
son wished. 

"Hit didn't have no blood oa it," Jackson spoke firmly, 
confidently. "Like I tole you. I had it open; I wasn't goin' 
after no Kanaks without nothin'. But I didn't use it on no- 
body. It was plumb rusty. Every damn thing gits rusty down 
here. Hit wasn't no blood, only rusty/' 

Larry Lynch nodded, accepting it without question. Once 
again they smoked in silence, and again the silence was 
broken by the priest. 

"You signed that confession and it's not true. Why'd you 
sign it, Mervin?" 

The young Negro's head jerked up; his mouth quivered. 
"Them HP's make me sign it." 

"Lieutenant Moscowitz said he saw you the same day you 
signed it. He said he couldn't find any sign you were . . . 
manhandled/' 

The sullen stubbornness returned and Jackson stared at 
the floor, Lynch tried another angle. 

"Once when I was about eight years old, we were playing 
a game of hide-and-seek. I hid in Mom's closet, and for a 
long time, I couldn't get out on account of there was no 
handle inside the door. Boy, it was awful. Ever since then, 
I can't stand it to be locked inespecially in the dark." 

Jackson inhaled deeply. "Me too, Padre. They keep me in 
that hole ... I duirno how long. Ail-as I know is, I'da sign 
anything to get outa there." He ended on a long, shuddering 

54 



Father Cyclone 

note. "I can't stari bein' lock up nohow. I git all choke up 
so's I can't hardly breathe. Then I start screamin'. . . ." 

"I know/' Lynch said. "Doctors have a name for it. But 
that wasn't all they did, or you wouldn't sign a lie. What'd 
they say?" 

"They say nobody gonna do nothin' 'bout no Kanak. Maybe 
I get company punishment ten day. Nobody say nothin' 
about no cote-martial/' His voice was bitter. "The lieutenant 
ain't gonna believe me!" 

"If he didn't, why do you s'pose he sent me here?" 

"You a padre. You figger maybe you make me start to 
pray, but I tell yer, I ain't know nothin' 'bout no religion 
and I ain't gonna do no prayin'." The heavy black face was 
stubborn. 

"You're wrong, Mervin. I'm not asking you to pray, but 
since you mention it, there's one thing I do want you to do." 
He pulled a tiny replica of the famed Hodegetria of St. Luke 
out of his pocket and handed it to the Negro. 

Jackson took it uncertainly, looked at it and looked back 
at the priest. "What I do with it?" 

"Keep it. It's a picture of a good friend of mine a rigjit 
powerful friend she is when you're in a jam. And we'ro in & 
jam, feller. Moscowitz has gotta have an angle to get us out 
of the mess you got us in with that confession. This is the 
Lady can help us find the angle." 

It was obviously an attempt to "give him religion," but 
the approach was so new it puzzled Jackson. "What you 
want I should do with it?" he asked again. 

"Talk to her. Just the same as you would talk to your own 
mother. You see, Mervin, she's God's mother and same as 

55 



Father Cyclone 

you couldn't tell your mother no if site asked you to help 
out a pal, God can't say no to His mother." 

"I ain't gonna do it!" All the stubborn resentment, the 
sullen fear was back. "I tell you I don't hold no truck with 
no religion. An* I ain't gonna do no prayin* fer nobody. 
Prayin' ain't gonna make no cote-martial believe me 'stead 
of two MP's." 

"She can make them believe, Mervin,'' Lynch said quietly. 
"I'm not asking you to pray, All I want you to do is talk to 
herlike she is your mother. You're the company champ 
boxer; you know what it means to have a good second in a 
fight?" 

"How you know about that, Padre?" Curiosity got the 
better of his fear, but only for a moment. "What for you git 
yourself all het up T)out me? I ain't nobody and I'm tellin' 
yer now, I ain't buyin' no religion, cote-martial nor no cote- 
martial." 

"Did I try to sell you any, Mervin?" Lynch asked and con- 
tinued without waiting for a reply. "I know that Lady. I know 
what she can do if you ask her right. We need a good sec- 
ond in our corner, and she's it. You just talk to her. Tell her 
the truth. She'll believe you, just as I do. Tell her we gotta 
make the court-martial believe you too. What can you 
lose?" 

"You ack like she's real!" Mervin Jackson said, puzzled. 

"She is real/' Lynch said with quiet assurance. "As real as 
your own mother. I call her my Lady of Perpetual Help be- 
cause she's always around when I need her. Will you take 
a chance on her?" 

56 



Father Cyclone 

Jackson was wary, but still curious. "You-all set a heap of 
store by her," he said. 

"iVe got good reason to/' Lynch answered. "She's never 
let me down if I ask her right/' 

"Okay," Jackson said. Til take a chance on her. Like you 
say, what kin I lose?" 



57 



CHAPTER FOUR 



It is doubtful if there is a more solemn occasion on an 
army base or reservation than a general court-martial. For 
such trials, the United States Army based on New Caledonia 
had selected the austere old French Tribunal probably one 
of the first buildings erected when the French took over the 
island in 1835. 

The building was surrounded by a high wall; a great iron 
gate cut through the wall and led to a flagstone walk lined 
with tall shrubbery, taller in places than the gate itself. The 
walk wound through a maze of tropic vegetation, opened 
out at a large fountain directly in front of the building, 
circled this fountain which was no longer in use, and ended 
in front of an imposing staircase, at the top of which was a 
large, colonnaded balcony that encircled the building. 

On three sides of the balcony massive oak doors opened 
into a wide, spacious room, and between the doors, great 
French windows let the pungent-sweet collection of tropical 

58 



Father Cyclone 

smells into the room, giving an illusion of coolness despite 
the heat. 

The nine members of the general court-martial selected to 
hear the case of Mervin Jackson sat at a long curving judge's 
bench which dominated one end of the room. The prin- 
cipals of the court-martial faced each other at one end of 
the bench: on the right were the judge advocate and his as- 
sistant; on the left, the defense counsel and the defendant, 
Mervin Jackson, looking forlorn and somehow alone. Jack- 
son sat motionless, hunched forward, his fingers gripping 
each other tightly. 

In the center of the judge's bench, clearly visible to every- 
one present, was the witness box. 

Mervin Jackson quivered when Lt Col. Julius Klein, presi- 
dent of the court-martial, opened the court with a bang of 
the gavel He seemed not to understand the proceedings 
clearly but stood when directed to answer as to whether he 
was satisfied with counsel. To this he replied "Yes," and then 
slumped down again in his chair, apathetic and uncon- 
cerned, while the trial judge advocate read the names of 
those present and asked if any member thought there was 
reason to challenge the presence of any person in that court. 

But when Father Lynch slipped through one of the French 
windows and seated himself unobtrusively on an empty 
bench far back in the room, Mervin Jackson's back squared, 
and his head lifted, and when the trial judge advocate barked 
the formal question at him, he stood straight, his voice firm 
and clear, to answer: "Not guilty 1" 

Alvin Moscowitz, sitting beside his client, was also aware 
of Father Lynch's presence in the courtroom. He saw the 

59 



Father Cyclone 

priest slide down in his seat and imagined the legs stretched 
out before him. Moscowitz, too, felt more relaxed and com- 
forted. 



The evidence against Mervin Jackson was formidable. It 
began with Sgt. Willis, the MP who had made the arrest and 
who told a straightforward, well-rehearsed, coherent tale. 
He and his partner, Forsythe, had heard the disturbance and 
hurried over to where the company truck was parked. There 
they found Rodriquez wounded, lying in the dirt with blood 
pouring from a gash in his face where he had been hit by a 
rock. A soldier told Willis the rock had been thrown by a 
Kanaka. 

"Somebody yelled that the Kanakas had run off, chased by 
some American soldiers. We took out after them and we 
found one American soldier who looked wild and untidy. He 
had no cap and his hair was all mussed and he was panting, 
as if he'd been running hard. He had an open knife in his 
hand and Forsythe pulled his gun and ordered him to drop 
it. His walk was unsteady and he smelled pretty strong of 
alcohol, so we took him to the station/* He hesitated, breathed 
deeply, went on in the same quiet monotone. "Later, when 
we found out that the Kanaka had died . . /* but the trial 
judge advocate stopped him. 

"Please confine your evidence to what you know of your 
own knowledge, Sergeant. Now, can you identify the soldier 
you arrested?" 

60 



Father Cyclone 

"Yes, sir. It was Private Mervin Jackson the accused." 

"Can you give us any additional information about the 
knife you mentioned? What became of it?" 

"I picked it up and turned it over to Sergeant McMullen 
at the MP station." 

"Describe it please, if you can." 

"Yes, sir. It was a large pocketknife with a black handle 
and a single blade about four inches long. There were blood- 
stains all over the . . ." 

Moscowitz jumped up, his voice crisp and hard. "Objec- 
tion! The witness is stating a conclusion, not a fact. I ask 
that the court direct that the answer be rephrased. There 
has been no qualification of the witness as an authority on 
bloodstains." 

"Everybody knows what blood looks like," the trial judge 
advocate snapped. "You don't have to be an expert to tell 
whether there's blood on a knife. I ask that the objection be 
overruled." 

Moscowitz stood his ground, his voice quiet. "If the court 
please, the witness testified as to bloodstains not blood. The , 
witness may be permitted to testify as to what he saw; he 
may describe it as he believes it to be. But to state cate- 
gorically that the stains he saw were bloodstains is a highly 
technical conclusion to which only an authority can testify. 
This witness has not been qualified as a chemist or other 
expert on bloodstains." 

Lt. Col. Klein listened attentively. When Moscowitz con- 
cluded, he turned to the officer on his right. "Will the law 
member rule on the objection, please!" he ordered. 

Capt. Culbert's voice was cold, his words lacking any in- 

61 



Father Cyclone 

flection except that they were decisive and without hesita- 
tion. "Objection sustained. Sergeant Willis, you will confine 
your answers to what you know to be a fact, and explain 
other matters as to their appearance." 

Far back in the courtroom, the lone spectator once more 
leaned back, legs outstretched; the cross on the rosary he 
held left a deep welt in the palm of his hand. 

"Well, sir," Willis was saying slowly, "the blade was about 
four inches long; all over it were dark red stains, like the 
kind of stain blood would leave on a knife." 

"Examine this object, Sergeant. If you can, please identify 
it" 

The trial judge advocate handed him a knife, its blade 
open. It was dark brown, showing none of the original shine 
of steel. 

"That's the knife Jackson had in his hand when we picked 
him up." 

"I/ the defense," sarcasm bordered the trial judge advo- 
cate's tone, "has no objection, I ask that this knife be marked 
'Exhibit A' and entered in the record," 

"No objection," Moscowitz said mildly. 

His cross-examination began in that same mild tone, but 
the line it took surprised the witness. "Sergeant, was it light 
or dark when you met Jackson?" 

"It was dark in the park, sir, but at the place where we met 
Jackson there was plenty of light from the stores and street." 

"Enough light to see someone coining toward you?" 

"Oh, yes, sir," Willis said. 

"Was Jackson walking, or running?" 

62 



Father Cyclone 

Willis hesitated, but only for a second. "He was walking, 
sir." 

"Walking toward you, or away from you?" 

"He was walking toward me." 

"That would be, then, in the general direction of the main 
thoroughfare, the road leading into town?" 

"Yes, sir. That's right." Willis was frankly puzzled, won- 
dering where Moscowitz was leading him; but the defense 
counsel left it, nodding as if satisfied. 

"Now, Sergeant Willis," his voice kept that gentle, even 
tone, "can you recall just where you and Corporal Forsythe 
stood? Were you in the light from the street as you went 
into the park toward the place where you met Jackson?" 

"We mustVe been, sir. We were coming from the lighted 
street . . ." He stopped, trying to recall his exact location, 

"Perhaps I can make it a bit more specific," Moscowitz 
said. "Would you say you were at all times visible to some- 
one coming down the path from the woods toward the 
street?" 

"Oh, yes, sir. I'd be willing to say that." 

"So, Private Jackson could not miss seeing you. And, hav- 
ing seen you, continued to come on toward you?" He waited, 
but as the witness again hesitated, he added, as if being 
helpful, "What I'd like to learn, Sergeant, is simply this; Did 
Private Jackson make any attempt to avoid you?" 

"No, sir. Jackson walked right into us, but you see " 

"Thank you, Sergeant." Moscowitz smiled. "There's just 
one other thing. Did you feel the blade of the knife youVe 
identified when you picked it up?" 

"Feel? No, sir. I picked it up by the handle, naturally." 

63 



Father Cyclone 

"Naturally," Moscowitz repeated. "And did you notice if 
the handle was dry or wet or sticky?" 

"The handle was dry, sir, but . . ." 

"Were there any stains on the handle, Sergeant?" 

"It was pretty old and dirty, but I don't remember no- 
ticing any stains on the handle that is." 

Moscowitz nodded with an air of reassurance to a man 
who had done his duty. "Thank you, Sergeant. Oh, by the 
way, were any laboratory tests made at the time of the arrest 
to identify the stains you . . . thought were blood?" 

Willis was startled. This was something which had obvi- 
ously never occurred to him. "Why . . . no, sir!" 

"Thank you, Sergeant. That is all." 

The trial judge advocate looked as if he wanted to ask 
Willis another question, but waved him down and called 
Corp. Forsythe to the stand. Forsythe's testimony corrob- 
orated everything Willis had said. When Moscowitz cross- 
examinedusing the identical questions he had asked Willis 
he received substantially the same answers. The corporal 
was relaxed and at ease when Moscowitz threw his bomb- 
shell. 

"Corporal Forsythe, while Sergeant Willis arrested the de- 
fendant, where were you?" 

"I ... tried to find the . . . others." 

"By the others do you mean American soldiers?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Did you find any American soldiers at the scene of the 
crime?" 

"They'd run away, sir. There were no soldiers there." 

"What about Kanakas?" 

64 



Father Cyclone 

"Only Kanaka there was the dead one." 

"Was there enough light in that section of the park for 
yon to be sure there was no one but the dead Kanaka there?" 

"It was pretty dark there, but . . ." Forsythe stopped, 
looking uneasily at the trial judge advocate. 

"But . . . ?" Moscowitz prompted. 

"Well, there was a light some distance off; it wasn't 
much. . . ." 

"Was it enough to permit you to see figures running off 
away from you, that is?" 

"I ... I ... guess so," Forsythe said. 

"Please tell the court what you saw, Corporal." 

"Well, there were some men running . . ." 

"Running, Corporal?" Moscowitz cut in. "Were they all 
running?" 

"I guess not. One of the men seemed drunker than . . ." 

"Please confine your evidence to what you know of your 
own knowledge, Corporal," Moscowitz snapped. 

"It seemed that one man had to be helped out of the 
woods," Forsythe snapped, his face red. "Two others helped 
him." 

"You did not follow?" 

"No, sir. It was my job to help my partner, Sergeant 
Willis, so I went back and reported to him about the dead 
Kanak." 

"Corporal Forsythe, how long have you known the man 
called Buzz Williams?" 

"Objection!" the trial judge advocate shouted. 

"If the court please," Moscowitz said quickly, "the de- 
fense can prove that Williams is pertinent to this case." 

65 



Father Cyclone 

Klein looked at Ca.pt Culbert, the law member, who said 
flatly: "Objection overruled/' 

"Please answer the question, Corporal/* Moscowitz in- 
structed. 

"I'm not sure, sir. About a year, I guess/' 

"You saw him the day after the arrest of the accused?" 

"I think that was the day/* 

"How did he appear to you, Corporal? Let me clarify the 
question further, please. Did Williams give the appearance 
of a man who'd been in a fight?" 

Forsythe hesitated briefly. "I ... would say so, sir." He 

took a deep breath, then went on. "He was pretty beat up, 

* 
sir. 

"Thank you, Corporal Where is Williams now?" 
"He was shipped out three days later to India/' 
Moscowitz spoke softly, confidentially. "He admitted to 
you that he had been in the fight in the park?" 
"Well ... I mean ... he ..." 
"Just answer yes or no, Corporal." 
"Yes, sir. But we had the guy who . . ." 
"Corporal Williams admitted to being with the men who 
were involved in the fight?" 
"The guys were giving him a send-off." 
"Did Williams tell you he had used his knife on a Kanak?" 
"He had to ... I mean, the Kanak gave him a beating 
and . . . well, he had a right to defend himself!" 
"Thank you, Corporal Forsythe. That is all." 
When Forsythe left the box, the trial judge advocate pro- 
duced Jackson's confession and tried to have it admitted into 
the record, but Moscowitz objected and the wrangle that 

66 



Father Cyclone 

followed was hot and bitter. The confession was then ad- 
mitted into the record. 

The trial judge advocate called the provost marshal who 
denied under oath that any duress had been used to obtain 
the confession, but on cross-examination Moscowitz forced 
him to testify that Mervin Jackson had been kept in solitary 
confinement for three days just prior to signing the con- 
fession. 

Immediately after this witness was excused, the trial judge 
advocate rested the prosecution's case. Moscowitz, however, 
instead of opening the case for the accused, requested a 
continuance until next morning. 

"Objection!" shouted the trial judge advocate. 

"On what grounds?" Moscowitz asked. 

"On the grounds that the defense has had sufficient time 
to prepare the case, that a continuance would merely be a 
waste of the court's time, that . . " 

Moscowitz stopped him by cutting in. "May it please the 
court, Major Peter Burling, a defense witness with vital and 
pertinent testimony, is not available, having been called to 
the north on regimental business. He is the first witness 
to be called for the defense. He will be here tomorrow 
morning." 

"The law member will rule on the objection," Klein in- 
structed. 

"Counsel for the defense has every right to request a con- 
tinuance if such request is necessary to protect the inter- 
ests of the accused. Objection overruled." 

The man who sat in the rear of the courtroom stood up 
when the gavel banged. His lips moved soundlessly as lie 

67 



Father Cyclone 

prayed: "Mother of Perpetual Help, help us now and al- 
ways." 

The rough ride made speech impossible. Father Lynch 
concentrated on hanging on while Moscowitz gave all his 
attention to navigating the jeep over the ruts in the road 
leading to the All-Services Chapel. When they reached the 
comparatively smooth section of the company street, Larry 
Lynch looked at the lieutenant and asked: 

"Scared, Tex?" 

"Scared stiff, Father," Moscowitz grinned. 

"Cheer up, feller. You got 'em worried." 

"Trouble is I am too!" 

"You're not giving the fellows sitting on the other side 
of that bench much credit, son," Lynch said quietly. "Of 
course the confession is bad, but you've got a couple good 
aces up your sleeve. And just because it was admitted doesn't 
mean the members believed it." 

"Don't be an everlasting optimist, Padre," Moscowitz 
snapped. "Three MP's and one provost marshal! Those men 
know better than to perjure themselves. When they swear 
that no coercion was used to get that confession . . /* 

Lynch laughed. "You're suggesting the officers sitting on 
that court-martial don't know MP's and how an MP defines 
such words as coercion and duress?" 

"No, Father. But memories can be short. When those 
guys swore under oath that no coercion or duress was 
used . . ." 

"They weren't lying, Tex," Lynch stopped him. "But that's 
not to say they were telling the truth! It's all a matter of 
definition. Their definition of duress doesn't happen to in- 

68 



Father Cyclone 

elude Jackson's claustrophobia and what three days and 
three nights locked in solitary can do to a man like Mervin." 

"You're on our side," Moscowitz said. "You'd find an 
alibi." 

"Jackson's got some mighty powerful people on his side," 
Lynch said. "He's got you defending him for one, and you're 
doing a mighty fine job of it. He's got me standing by, and 
you should know by now that Brooklyn never quits, 'spe- 
cially in the last inning. Jackson has Our Lady of Perpetual 
Help in his corner, and a fighter cant lose with her as his 
second. It's a tough combination to lick, particularly when 
a guy's innocent." 

"Is he, Father?" Moscowitz asked. "Is he innocent?" 

"For a doubting Thomas, you're a fine actor! Back there 
when you objected to Willis testifying about blood on the 
knife you were magnificent in your righteous indignation. 
Even Klein sat up and took notice and I'd have sworn you 
were convinced of Jackson's innocence." 

Moscowitz pulled the jeep to a stop, but the priest did 
not get out immediately. Instead he put his hand over the 
one which gripped the wheel and said gently: "The fight 
isn't over until the last bell rings, Tex. One of these days 
I'm going to introduce you to Our Lady. She's a right good 
arnicas curiae when you're in a jam, but in the meantime, 
here's something for you to mull over. You've created doubt 
in the minds of the judges about both the knife and the 
confession; when Dr. Burling testifies there's no blood, the 
prosecution's case will fold. Get along with you now and 
get some sleep. Quit worrying, feller. Remember, you're not 
in this fight alone!" 

69 



Father Cyclone 

Moscowitz watched the priest walking toward his own 
shack. He noticed that the step was jaunty, with a sugges- 
tion of a swagger in it. He smiled, pressed the accelerator 
and whispered softly, "Thanks, Brooklyn/' as the jeep moved 
forward. 



CHAPTER FIVE 



As the false dawn of the tropics crept over the horizon 
next morning, Glenn Kittler was mdely awakened by an 
eruption of sound in the immediate vicinity. Lying still, he 
identified it as persistent hammering from the direction of 
the All-Services Chapel. With astonishing alacrity, Kittler 
was up and beginning to dress, cursing the vandal who had 
disturbed his rest. 

He went to rout out the chaplain, but Lynches shack was 
empty, so he hurried directly to the chapel. Inside the door, 
he stood surveying an unbelievable scene. 

The partition which separated the chapel proper from 
what was formerly used as a sacristy had been ripped down 
and was stacked in one corner. The flooring, always uneven 
at that part of the place, now showed a gaping wound, and 
there, bending over to rip up another of the floor boards, 
was Father Lawrence Lynch. The priest's face was dirty, 
and rivers of sweat streaked down into his shirt; his sleeves 

71 



Father Cyclone 

were rolled above his elbows, and the shirt itself was half 
in and half out of his trouser belt. 

Kittler stared speechless for some moments. When he 
finally found his voice, he said exactly what he thought. 

"What in the name of hell you trying to do?" 

Lynch looked up, ignored the comment and grunted. "Hi, 
Champ, give me a hand here, will you?" 

Kittler, suddenly embarrassed by his choice of words, 
moved forward and grasped the floor board indicated by 
Lynch. 

"I hope you know what you're doing, Father," he said, his 
tone implying the apology he would not voice. 

Lynch, breathing harder than usual from his exertions, 
grinned. "Sure. I'm making the chapel larger." He looked 
around, waving his hand. "With that partition down, and 
an extension there for a sacristy . . /* 

"Mind telling me where you figger to get replacement 
material? We're in a war. Father! Didn't you hear? And 
this is the Army. You don't just pick up a phone and order 
stuff. Heck, you should know the score!" 

"I s'pose you mean lumber, nails, paint . . . that sort of 
thing?" Lynch asked, head cocked. 

"Uh-huh," Kittler nodded. "That sort of thing." He looked 
meaningly at the devastation around them. "You haven't 
been here long," he said, a measure of pity for Lynch's igno- 
rance in his tone, "not near long enough to know just how 
tough things can get in this man's army. Out here, you gotta 
make the best of . . ." 
A voice close behind him made him jump. He turned, but 

72 



Father Cyclone 

not so fast that he missed Lynch's chuckle and soft re- 
joinder: "The Lord will provide!" 

"Where d'yer want this stuff, Padre?" The voice belonged 
to a husky seabee in dungarees. "Lieutenant says for me 
and Joe to stick around and give yer a hand. Says you got 
a job t'do." 

"That's great, Bill. Great. Nobody can do a job like the 
seabees." The sailor dropped a load of lumber from his 
shoulder to the floor. 

From beyond the chapel door, a second Seabee yelled at 
Kittler. "Hey, Sarge, lend a muscle, will yer!" but Kittler pre- 
tended not to hear. He was watching Lynch, eyes narrowed. 
There was something about this deal he didn't like, but he 
wasn't sure what it was yet. 

The priest was explaining to Bill exactly what he wanted 
done, and suddenly Kittler knew the reason for his suspicion. 
Lynch wouldn't be around for any of the work! Oh, no. 
"Kittler here will show you if you need help. He'll help, 
and if it's not too much trouble . . ." 

"Forget it, Padre. Us and the Sarge kin fix her up right 
nice for you in no time flat." 

"That's what I call real cooperation between the armed 
forces," Lynch said. "Glenn, show the boys how a sacristy 
should look, and see they get plenty of chow. IVe got a chore 
to do in town, but I should be back in plenty of time before 
you finish." 

"Don't you fret none about us, Padre," Joe said, coming 
in with a load of lumber. 

"Bless you both. Someday maybe we'll make this a real 

73 



Father Cyclone 

chapel, with a real altar and hand-painted stations of the 
cross and . . ." 

Kittler had no conscious intention of speaking. "And I 
suppose you'll do the painting, Father?" It was pure sar- 
casm, but Lynch took it literally. 

"I've been quite an artist in my time," Lynch nodded, 
"When I was in South America " 

Bill's eyes opened wide as he interrupted. "Where at, 
Padre? Didja ever hit Rio?" 

"I sure did. What were you doing there?" Lynch asked. 

"Had me a job, one of them contract things you sign up 
fer where they ship you places for two years. Say, I never 
did see the like of them snakes they grow down there!" 

Lynch laughed. "I nearly got bitten by a jarraraca once. 
Serve me right if I had. I was stealing! Know those great, 
green, leafy plants look like pandanus?" Bill nodded, and 
against his will, Kittler found himself listening with interest; 
even Joe took time off to listen after dropping the lumber 
he carried on his shoulder. "Just as I started to swipe one, 
I noticed it had a fold down in the base of itsort of like 
a pocket. There was water in it and under the water a neat 
brown thing was all curled up and wound around himself- 
If rd touched that plant , . ." 

Bill whistled and Joe shivered, but Kittler s eyes narrowed 
again; he wondered if this was an act of some sort, if Lynch 
had an ulterior motive in telling the story and, if he had, 
what that motive was. Certainly the priest had traveled far 
from his own artistic talents, and Kittler was convinced this 
was not like Larry Lynch. 

"How come you figger that jarraraca didn't swipe out at 

74 



Father Cyclone 

you anyhow?" Bill asked. "Them things kin smell people, 
Padre." 

"That's what they say down there, Bill/' Lynch nodded. 
"But I wanted the plant for the chapel of Our Lady of Per- 
petual Help, and I guess she put him to sleep. Or maybe he 
was tight with all the water he'd been drinking. Anyhow, 
he was dopey enough for us to spade him in half." 

"What a break!" Bill breathed. "How long you was in 
S.A.?" 

"Three years-1934 to '37." 

"Gripes. Same time I was. Was you in Rio all a time?" 

"Nope. I went to Paraguay after I left Brazil." 

"Jeez, you musta seen plentya the country." 

"I sure did. And that's when I did my best painting, by 
the way. It was beautiful country, and while I was there, 
I heard of a kid back home who'd developed tuberculosis. 
Poor Kathy was dying, so I used to paint pictures of the 
countryside and write the screwiest letters you ever saw to 
go with them, but her parents told me she got a big kick 
out of them, and that was what mattered. After she died, 
I kept on painting. Say, if you guys pop in and see my Mom 
when you get back to the States, she'll show you some of 
the stuff. Some of it was good too, even if I do say it." 

"You would!" Kittler muttered, under his breath. 

"Boy, it's one swell place, S.A.," Bill said, nostalgia in his 
tone. "Ever go up to the Corcovado?" 

"Yep," Lynch said. "One of these days I'll tell you some 
real exciting stories about it, but right now, I gotta run. You 
stick around till I get back, and we'll finish this job to- 
gether." 

75 



Father Cyclone 

Joe laughed. "You don't know the Navy, Padre. And you 
don't know Bill and me. Why, with the help of the Sarge 
here/' his eyes took in Battler's spare frame and he shook 
his head doubtfully, but continued with a measure of as- 
surance, 'we'll have her done up brown long 'fore mess call. 
Don't you fret none and you ain't got no call to hurry back/' 

Glenn Kittler wanted to protest; he also wanted to find 
out where his superior was going. After all, that was part 
of his job, but before he could frame the question, Lynch, 
with a quick smile and a "Thanks, fellers; all the same, you 
wait for me/' was gone. Kittler cursed under his breath when 
the Seabee named Joe, on his way to the truck, shouted back 
over his shoulder, "Okay, Sarge. Let's go/' 



Moscowitz had Maj. Peter Burling on the stand when 
Father Lynch slid quietly onto the bench in the rear of the 
courtroom. Burling had already established his qualifica- 
tions as a doctor and his ability to testify on matters in the 
field of pathology, chemistry and medicine. 

"I showed you this knife/' Moscowitz was saying, "marked 
^Exhibit A' by the prosecution. You were requested to make 
certain tests and analyses on it. Have you done so?" 

"I have. Personally, I might add." 

"Thank you. Now, Major Burling, will you give this court 
a summary of your findings?" 

"Scrapings taken from this knife tagged 'Exhibit A' on 
analysis showed thirty-nine substances. A detailed list of 

76 



Father Cyclone 

them has been prepared and, if you wish, I will be glad to 
read . . ." 

"Thank you, sir/' Moscowitz said softly. "That will not be 
necessary, at least for now. Can you tell this court whether 
or not blood is included in your list of thirty-nine sub- 
stances?" 

"Blood was not among the substances found/* Burling 
said. 

The man far back in the courtroom relaxed. His fingers 
gripped each other until the knuckles showed white; they 
were unclenched as he made the sign of the cross. 

Moscowitz bowed slightly. "Thank you, Major. Now, will 
you tell the court just what the effects would be on a vic- 
tim of claustrophobia who has been locked in for three days 
and three nights." 

"Objection!" shouted the trial judge advocate, "on the 
grounds that it is incompetent, immaterial and irrelevant." 

"Major Burling has been qualified as a competent witness 
and is an expert in a matter which is not only relevant to 
this trial but vitally important to the case for the accused.** 

"Overruled," Klein said. 

"Please proceed, Major." 

"A claustrophobe could become almost violent after such 
a long period of incarceration. His judgment becomes 
warped; his mentality is almost submerged in an illogical, 
but uncontrollable panic." 

"Would such a victim sign a document which he knows 
to be untrue?" 

"Some of them would sign their own death warrant in 
order to get out." 

77 



Father Cyclone 

"Thank you, Major." There was a suggestion of unsteadi- 
ness in the young counsel's voice. "Your witness/' he said. 
As he returned to his seat, he mopped his forehead and 
the palms of his hands. 

The trial judge advocate stood directly before Maj. Peter 
Burling. 

"Major, is there any possibility of error in this matter of 
blood on the knife?" 

"No possibility whatever, sir," Burling said. "I'd stake my 
professional reputation on the fact that there was no speck 
of blood on the knife given to me for examination. The tests 
made were exhaustive; nothing was taken for granted as 
will be evidenced by this list of thirty-nine . . ." 

"Thank you," the trial judge advocate snapped, before 
reiteration could further damage his case. "Now, sir, having 
given us a lecture on claustrophobia, do you expect this 
court to believe the accused would confess to a murder 
about which he knew nothing just because he had been 
locked up?" 

"A claustrophobe, locked in such a cell as the solitary one 
at Paita, a small, windowless cell, could become an unrea- 
soning maniac. Given an instrument, he might commit sui- 
cide." 

"And did you," the trial judge advocate's tone became 
heavily sarcastic, "in your capacity as doctor, examine the 
accused to ascertain if he isor was a claustrophobe?" 

Maj. Burling spoke quietly but emphatically. "No, I did 
not. Claustrophobia is not an obvious disease nor one easily 
diagnosed. But if you've ever been stuck in an elevator with 
a victim of it ... believe me, sir, you'd recognize the 

78 



Father Cyclone 
symptoms without any professional knowledge or ability." 

"Thank you, sir/' The trial judge advocate now seemed 
anxious to discontinue the subject. "No further questions." 

Moscowitz proceeded with the case for the defense, call- 
ing three soldiers who had been with Jackson on the night 
the Kanaka was killed. Each one told substantially the same 
story. The Kanakas started the row; one of them had stoned 
Rodriquez, Jackson's buddy; the men from the platoon, in- 
cluding Jackson and Williams, started pursuit into the park 
after Rodriquez fell, but the Kanakas knew the park too 
well. 

Jackson was among the first to give up; he was worried 
about his friend, but before he got to the wounded man, 
he was arrested. He had no reason to attempt to escape; he 
was not with them when three Kanakas jumped Williams; 
Williams had begun to keel over, one said, before he pulled 
his knife to defend himself. Jackson was not with them when 
the Kanaka was stabbed. 

On cross-examination, the trial judge advocate tried to 
shake the soldiers, but the best he could do was , to estab- 
lish that none of them would sign a confession for such a 
reason as that given by the defense. 

At last, Moscowitz had Mervin Jackson in the witness box. 
Gently and quietly, he led the defendant through the story 
of that night in the woods. He helped Jackson tell the story 
in his own words but in a more cohesive way than he had 
told it to the priest at Paita, using Lynch's report to prod 
when Jackson faltered, making the story pointed where it 
counted. 

79 



Father Cyclone 

"Now, Mervin, when did you sign the confession which 
stated that you had stabbed the Kanaka six times?" 

Jackson's voice was lower. "Same day they let me outa 
that . . . place." 

"Why did you sign it if it was not true?" Moscowitz 
asked. 

"Lieutenant, I'da sign anything to get outta there. 'Sides, 
them MP's told me ain't nothin' gonna heppen t'me. I ain't 
done nothin' and they say did I sign the paper, they ain't 
gonna put me back in that hole." 

"But you knew the paper did not tell the truth. Did you 
say so to the MP's?" 

"Yessir, but they say Vhasa difference? Hit's on'y a Kanak. 
Nobody gonna do nothin' 'bout no Kanak. Ma'be I get me 
company punishment ten day . . . sometibin' easylike. No- 
body ain't say nothin' 'bout no cote-martial!" 

"Mervin," Moscowitz was very gentle, "remember you are 
on your oath before God to tell the whole truth. I am going 
to ask you one more question. I want you to think about it 
before you answer it. As God is your judge, did you sign 
that confession in good faith because it was the truth?" 

The Negro looked straight into his counsel's eyes, head 
up, shoulders back, voice firm. "I swear t'God, sir, I ain't 
stab nobody. I sign the paper like I tole you, but hit weren't 
true." 

"Your witness," Moscowitz said. 

The trial judge advocate made Jackson go over the story 
again and again, point by point, using every legal trick to 
shake his story. At times Jackson seemed to be confused, 
but he did not alter his story by any important detail. When 

80 



Father Cyclone 

he finally stepped down from the witness box, there was a 
grayness about his face, but as his eyes searched for and 
found Lynch in the dimness, his head lifted again and he 
walked to his seat. 

The defense rested, and immediately began the summa- 
tion by the trial judge advocate and the rebuttal by the de- 
fense. At last it was over. The president declared the court 
closed to deliberate on the evidence, and the members filed 
out slowly. 

Alvin Moscowitz sat still, hands limp on the table before 
him, eyes staring at nothing. 

Mervin Jackson's eyes searched the semigloom of the 
courtroom again. Now his shoulders were hunched, the fin- 
gers of one hand plucking restlessly at the edge of his jacket, 
the other hand a tight fist. 

The captain who had been trial judge advocate began 
collecting his papers, but with a weary, disinterested air- 
as if, now it was over, he was in a hurry to get back to 
something else. 

One man in the courtroom seemed completely relaxed. 
Father Lawrence Lynch sat confidently on the hard bench. 
Only the moving lips were evidence of his inner turmoil as 
he prayed, over and over: "Mother of Perpetual Help, help 
us now. Mother of Perpetual Help, help us now! 9 

It was twenty-nine minutes before the members filed back 
into the courtroom and took their seats. Klein banged his 
gavel and ordered Jackson to stand; Jackson's shoulders 
straightened as he braced himself for the blow he expected. 

Klein's voice was crisp: "This court finds the accused not 
guilty. Court adjourned!" 

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Father Cyclone 

Lynch waited until the court-martial officials had filed 
out, before leaving. As he passed Moscowitz, he whispered, 
"Wait for me, please/* He went directly to Mervin Jackson, 
now slumped in the chair where before he had been straight. 

Jackson's right hand was clenched into a fist; when he 
saw the priest, he opened it, stared at the crumpled paper 
he held, then looked up at Father Lynch. He tried to speak, 
but 110 words came. 

Lynch said it for him, his voice low. "She sure came 
through, didn't she?" 

Jackson nodded dumbly, his eyes suddenly wet. Lynch 
said nothing, one hand gripping the man's shoulder. At last, 
Jackson spoke. "You . . . you gotta gimme another one. 
Guess as how I ... clean fergot I had ... I reckon as 
how I mess hit up some." 

The priest pulled out of his pocket another tiny copy of 
the picture which had been reputedly painted by St. Luke 
and destroyed by the Turks in the year 1453. "She won't 
mind that, Mervin/' he said, handing it to him. " 'Specially 
if you figure she had a hand in it." 

Mervin Jackson shook his head slowly. "I gotta figger it," 
he said. "Ain't nobody coulda make them officers believe me 
'stead of them MP's lessen 'twas her/' He took a deep breath. 
"Padre, I talk ter her. Jest like you tole me; I talk to her . . . 
sorta like I'd a talk to Ma was she here. Funny, ain't it? I 
ain't got me no religion, but I kin talk to her. Seems like 
Padre, you think I gone nuts, talkin' so?" 

"No, son. But I think you should tell her thanks, don't 
you?" The soldier nodded, and Lynch went on. "And you 

82 



Father Cyclone 

won't forget to thank the lieutenant, will you? He did help 
some, you know." 

"You betcha. Yep. Ill do that, Padre/' His shoulders were 
straight again as he stood before Lynch. "I ... I guess as 
how I'll go talk f him right now." 

"Atta boy. And say, how's about popping into my quarters 
one of these days?" Mervin Jackson looked startled, and 
Lynch chuckled. "Don't worry. I won't try selling you re- 
ligion. But there's a little chore I'd like you to do for me, 
if you ever get to Brooklyn. You stop by and I'll tell you 
all about it." 

"Yes, sir. Ill be right glad." He saluted smartly, and Lynch 
waited, giving him time to talk to Moscowitz. When he saw 
Jackson start for the balcony, he went up to the lieutenant. 

"Congratulations, Tex," Lynch said. "That was a master- 
ful job." 

Moscowitz shook his head. "It makes me nauseated think- 
ing what could have happened if you hadn't taken a hand, 
and if you hadn't given me the courage to have that knife 
tested." He finished stuffing papers into a brief case, locked 
it, looked at the priest. "Father, you still Island Command, 
or have you been assigned to an outfit?" 

"Island Command," Lynch grinned. "The army hasn't dis- 
covered yet that Fm here. Hurry up and wait." 

"The Army!" Moscowitz said, all the bitterness of his stay 
on New Caledonia in his tone. "We've been asking for a 
chaplain you know what they call the 42nd QM? The father- 
less tank battalion. That's us. We've never had a chaplain. 
We've never even had a regular recreation officer except 
me. And believe me, this island's no place for guys who ex- 

83 



Father Cyclone 

pected to be shipped up and . . . nuts, Padre, we should 
have a chaplain!" 

"Better not put in for me, Tex. You'll be sorry," Lynch 
grinned. 

"Maybe," Moscowitz said. "Ever since you landed, you 
seemed to belong to the 42nd QM somehow. Maybe if we're 
the first to put in for you, if we said you'd been mixed up 
with us right from the start . . .** 

"I wouldn't do that, Tex," Lynch said quickly. Then, as if 
aware that he had very nearly betrayed his own fear of the 
army's familiar habit of consigning one to the oblivion of a 
file drawer, he changed to his usual grin. "Of course you 
should have a chaplain, and it seems to me that until I am 
reassigned, if I ever am, there's no reason we can't have a 
. . . well, a gentleman's agreement. I could adopt the 42nd." 

"You mean that, Father?" 

"I warn you, you may be sorry, but if that's what you 
want . . ." 

"That's what I want, Padre. If you knew the things this 
island can do to a man! The frustration, the monotony, even 
the very beauty of it. Padre, I'll bet that Kanak would be 
alive today if we'd had a chaplain to help keep the guys in 
line." 

"All right, Tex. You've got a deal," Lynch said. 

They were in the jeep, jouncing over the rough road 
when Father Lynch said: "By the way, what plans have you 
made to celebrate Passover?" 

"Huh?" Moscowitz choked, and Lynch laughed outright. 

"Too fast for you? Or is it that you just don't go in for 
religion?" Color made the lieutenant's face look darker. 

84 



Father Cyclone 

"You're not going to tell me you don't know about Pass- 
over?" 

"Of course not, Padre. But, as a matter of fact, I don't 
follow the rules much, especially since I've been in the 
army." 

"I hear tell there are plans afoot for a Passover feast in 
the hospital for most Jewish men in the Island Command/* 
Lynch said, his head cocked. "What about the 42nd QM?" 

"You're not suggesting that we send all the Jewish men 
in the 42nd downtown?" Moscowitz asked, shocked. 

Lynch grinned, nodded. "Why not?" 

"Father, there are more than a hundred of them. Trans- 
portation alone would be a major matter, and . . . oh, it's 
impossible." 

"Okay. So we bring the Seder to them." 

This time Moscowitz was startled. Suddenly the jeep 
seemed to leap under his pressure, but he said nothing for 
some seconds. At last, when he couldn't hold back any 
longer, he demanded: "How come this Jewish routine, 
Father? You're a Catholic priest! I don't get it. I . . ." 
Lynch's laughter stopped him. 

"Bet you don't know what *nem nit vinzeger vee zwelf 
dullar' means. Or, Jer kauf nit vinzeger vee zwelf dullar. 9 " 
Lynch grinned. "Well, I'll tell you." He didn't give Mosco- 
witz time to adjust to the sudden change. "One of 'em means 
don't sell for twelve dollars and the other means don't take 
less than twelve dollars. And twelve dollars was what my 
Pop and I paid for my confirmation suit down in Delancey 
Street when I was twelve." 

"What's that got to do with . . ." 

85 



Father Cyclone 

"My best pal was a kid named Ikey Cohen. His parents 
were dead and lie lived with his grandfather, so he sort of 
got adopted into our family. Mom always had plenty of 
room in her great heart for extras, but Mom was adamant 
about religion. Of course, Ikey was smart; he knew enough 
to find out a lot about his own rituals; he wasn't taking any 
chances getting in bad with Mom. He taught me to speak 
some Hebrew; he got me my first job in his uncle's shoe- 
shop; he was quite a guy only thing wrong with him, he 
got born in Manhattan instead of Brooklyn." 

Moscowitz brought the jeep to a stop before the All-Serv- 
ices Chapel. "I gotta hurry, Tex/' Lynch said. "A couple sea- 
bees are probably ready to slay me about now, to say noth- 
ing of one furious chaplain's assistant with a justifiable 
grievance, and before you're finished with me, you'll prob- 
ably hate me too, but don't say I didn't warn you that is, 
if you're still willing to go on with that deal we made." 

"I'm satisfied with it, Brooklyn/' Moscowitz said. 



Work was piled high on Glenn Eattler's desk, but he found 
it impossible to concentrate on anything for very long. In 
the middle of a letter, questions plagued him: What kind of 
man was this Lynch? How could he ever survive as assistant 
to a man who somehow managed to make him feel and act 
and look like a fool? Where was Lynch now? 

Klein had telephoned not once, but three times. He said 

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Father Cyclone 

it was urgent, and he intimated that it was peculiar that 
Kittler didn't know where Lynch had gone. 

Kittler had called every place he could think of without 
success. No one had seen his superior; no one had any idea 
where he might be, and several of them made snide cracks 
which he bitterly resented. Of course he should know the 
whereabouts of his boss! How could he explain to anyone 
Lynch's complete disappearance? 

And there was this matter of the rebuilding of the chapel. 
Why should he be stuck with it? He had enough work to do 
without becoming a carpenter! He resented the fact that 
the seabees seemed to get a kick out of finishing the job 
before Lynch returned; but the army technical manual for 
chaplains had nothing in it about an assistant becoming a 
builder. Nor did it say anything about an assistant becom- 
ing a wet nurse to his chaplain. 

There had been other calls in addition to Klein's, and 
each one increased his irritation at Lynch. He toyed with 
the idea of asking for a transfer but discarded it temporarily. 
After all, Lynch might not last long and another Father 
Svedas might replace him. Life on Noumea under the gen- 
tle, soft-spoken, easygoing priest had had many compensa- 
tions, and the job of assistant chaplain carried some prestige 
even more so when the chaplain was attached to the Island 
Command at large. 

If Klein called once more . . . and anyway, what in hell 
did he want with Lynch? If he had any illusions of having 
him transferred to the 42nd, he'd . . . 

The door opened and closed with a soft bang. "Hi-ya, 
Champ/ 7 Lynches voice was light and breezy. "How're my 

87 



Father Cyclone 

two seabees doing?" He moved directly to his own desk and 
began looking over the messages. 

Kittler grunted. "They're probably sleeping under the 
naoli tree behind the cookshack." 

"Oh? Then they finished work on the chapel?" 

"We finished before mess call," Kittler said. 

"Good job." Lynch ignored the emphasis. "Go flag 'em for 
me while I take a look." 

Kittler started to speak, began rolling down his sleeves 
slowly, his mouth a tight line. When he saw Lynch pick up 
one of the notes about Klein's calls and put it down with- 
out comment, he had to say it: "Klein told me it was urgent. 
I tried to find you everywhere." 

"Next time don't try, Champ. I usually turn upeventu- 
ally. If Klein calls again, say 111 see him later on, and if any- 
body else calls, say you'll get me as soon as you can. Right 
now I've got things to do. Tell those guys to get their truck 
rolling, will you. I'll meet 'em in front of the chapel." 

Kittler wanted to protest, to voice some of his mounting 
anger, to pin Lynch down. But there was an odd undertone 
of command in the way Lynch had spoken-a note of dis- 
missal. He shrugged, storing up his bitterness for the mo- 
ment, determined that immediately after the seabees left, 
he'd have it out with the priest, once and for all. 

He went to the cookshack and searched the area shaded 
by the spreading naoli, but the sailors were not there. Mc- 
Carthy told him grumpily that they had gone, after de- 
manding more coffee and whatinhell did the Navy mean 
getting guys into bad habits like that? But Kittler was hur- 

88 



Father Cyclone 

rying toward the front of the chapel, where he knew the 
truck was parked. 

He heard the motor turn over and ran faster. But when 
he turned into the company street, the truck was beginning 
to roll. He shouted, started to run again and stopped with 
a short curse. 

Seated next to the two sailors in the cab of the truck was 
Father Lawrence E. Lynch. 



89 



CHAPTER SIX 



The heavy track rocked over the rough, hilly road lead- 
ing in the direction of the naval personnel depot. Bill, in- 
tent on his driving, muttered his opinion of the Army, a 
man's spine becoming an accordion, and the Navy's efficiency 
in road building all interspersed with choice adjectives. Joe 
tried nudging him to shut up, but, not succeeding, turned 
to his right and tried to drown out his partner's comments. 

"Padre, how you fix it so's you wangled a whole load of 
lumber outa old Nicholas? S'far as I know, ain't nobody in 
this man's Navy kin do that, less'n maybe Lieutenant Coster 
say so, and even the exec's gotta say pretty* please to old 
Nick." 

Lynch chuckled. "Don't ask professional secrets, Joe. Say, 
isn't that shack we just passed a canteen?" 

"Uh-huh," Joe grunted, noncommittal. 

"What about a beer?" Lynch asked. 

Bill slammed the brakes so fast the truck lurched in a 

90 



Father Cyclone 

rat, throwing Lynch and Joe forward and stalling the motor. 
"Sorry, Padre/' he apologized. 

"Nix, Bill. Nix/' Joe kicked his shin. He turned to the 
priest again, and with reproach in his look and tone, said: 
"You want us should get ten days in the brig?" 

Bill started up the motor, muttering: "Ain't nothin* in the 
regs says the Army can't . . ." 

"Shut up," Joe said. "That shack's outa bounds for the 
Navy, Padre. O'course, if you got scrambled eggs in your 
cap . . r 

"Anything in navy regs says an army officer in a navy 
truck can't go in for some beer?" Lynch asked. 

"That's right, Joe!" Bill said eagerly. "Ain't nothing says 
a navy truck transportin' a army officer can't stop outside 
the canteen. And ain't nothin' says the Army can't do like 
it wants." Another sharp kick elicited a yelp. "Hey, what 
the . . ." 

"That ain't no place for no padre, Bill, and you know it," 
Joe snapped. "He's new around here. He don't know . . ." 

"Bet you a nickel," Lynch interrupted. "I can get in there 
and out again before it can contaminate me!" He jumped 
down from the truck and headed back. "Don't back up, Bill, 
but keep her humming." 

Bill was still rubbing his shin, but before he could finish 
giving his full opinion of Joe and his ancestry all of which 
Joe ignored in his intent scrutiny of the road ahead and 
behind Lynch was back with a paper bag. He handed it 
up to Joe, climbed in and took it back. 

"Just in case," he said. "They tell me there's a jeep with 
a couple SP's up ahead. Take it easy, Bill. These cans are 

91 



Father Cyclone 

open and beer don't look good on my suit if it spills. Keep 
her moving till you find a spot we can park off the road." 

"Better not, Padre/' Joe said. "You just hand her out and 
well take her as she goes." Lynch accepted the alternative 
plan and handed each of them a can of beer, keeping the 
third for himself. 

Unlike the army base, the naval personnel depot was not 
a sprawling camp but a tight collection of buildings which 
looked down from a high hill. Far off in the distance, Noumea 
was a tiny speck., and further away could be seen Admiral 
Halsey's headquarters and the beehive which was SOPAC, 
framed in the shimmering blue of the bay behind it. 

A single-lane road led to the reservation and the neat 
rows of tents and shacks a road guarded at the gate by two 
businesslike members of the Shore Patrol. 

Bill leaned over Joe. "Padre, you gotta put on your cap 
and button up your collar. Them guys is fussy who gets 
pass them." 

"Right/' Lynch obeyed immediately, his hat sitting at a 
jaunty angle atop his close-cropped dark hak. 

Joe glanced at him and grinned. "On you it don't look 
good/' 

"Where you want we should leave you, sir?" Bill said, un- 
consciously acknowledging the officer's insignia. 

""Somewhere near the executive's quarters/' Lynch said. 
Tve got to see Nicholas first to thank him for lending me 
the lumber and then I've got to thank the lieutenant for 
lending me you guys." 

"I like that lend' stuff, hey, Joe?" Bill laughed, pulling 

92 



Father Cyclone 

up before the guard at the gate. The SP saluted with his 
rifle and Lynch acknowledged the salute. 

"Captain Lawrence E. Lynch, Chaplain/' he said, and the 
truck was waved on. 

The late afternoon sun threw long shadows on the road- 
way where scantily leaved trees here and there defied the 
progress of the United States Navy. Bill swung the truck in 
an arc, and pointed. 

"You'll find old Nick down yonder, Padre," he pointed. 
"Go straight through the B.O.Q." 

"Thanks," Lynch said, making no move to descend. "Say, 
I didn't notice any chapel around here. Where do you guys 
go for service?" 

"When there's a battlewagon in, we have service on 
board," Joe explained. 

"You always go? Both, of you?" Lynch was busy tucking 
his cap into his belt and turning his collar inside. He seemed 
not particularly interested in their replies and apparently 
didn't notice Joe squirming. "Of course, I know how tough 
it can be ... what about you, Bill?" 

Bill looked startled. "Who, me, Padre?" 

"You, Bill." Lynch grinned. 

"Well, now, you see, it's like this. There's . . ." 

"Yep, I know all about it," Lynch said. "There were three 
men in a boat and the oars leaked. Say, don't you think you 
ought to come see if the chapel's okay now? What about 
six o'clock Sunday night? I'll be saying Mass there and it'll 
give us a good chance to see if we've got it big enough." 

"Bill's not a Catholic, Father " Joe flushed at LyncFs 
quick look. 

93 



Father Cyclone 

"I promise it won't show, Bill/' Lynch said. "What about 
it?" 

It was Bill's turn to squirm. "I just ain't what you'd call 
one o' them religious guys, Padre." 

"But you believe in God?" It was more a statement of 
fact, a matter not subject to question. 

"Sure I do/' Bill said. 

Lynch nodded. "Shows you got sense. Anybody in this 
man's Aimy or Navy who doesn't is plain crazy. Right?" Bill 
nodded. 

Suddenly, Lynch grinned. It seemed to bring them into a 
strange, close intimacy with him when he asked: "You ever 
talk to God?" 

"Huh?" Bill gasped, eyes wide. Joe looked as if he weren't 
sure whether to be shocked or startled. 

"You heard me. You should try it sometime. Come to 
chapel next Sunday and talk to God like He's somebody 
you know. After you talk to Him in chapel, you'd be sur- 
prised how easy it is to do it outside. And take my word for 
it, He can be mighty useful to talk to, specially when you're 
in a pinch. So I'll expect to see you both Sunday night." He 
was on the ground, ready to move off. "And thanks a lot for 
all the help today." 

Joe watched him stride off. "He's quite a guy, ain't he, 
Bill?" 

Bill meshed gears and stepped on the gas hard. "Yeah." 

After a few moments of silence, Joe asked, "You goin* 
Sunday?" 

"Dammit, I gotta, ain't I?" Bill snapped. "What the hell 
else can I do? You heard him." 

94 



"Father Cyclone 



On a naval shore base, where wives are not permitted, 
the street lined with shacks, dignified by small plates show- 
ing the name and rank of each occupant, is referred to as 
B.O.Q. Apart from those small plates, there was nothing to 
indicate that the occupants of the shacks were more exalted 
than the rest of the men, yet such a street is considered in- 
violateparticularly to the lesser gentry of the armed forces. 
All the more startling then were the incongruous sounds 
that arrested Larry Lynch's attention as he headed in the 
direction indicated by Bill. 

The name plate over the door was that of a rear admiral, 
but the comments coming through the open window were 
hardly of a military nature. Lynch turned his collar in, re- 
moved his cap and cautiously opened the door. He stood 
still, waiting until the poker hand being played was com- 
pleted. 

Five marines squatted in a semicircle on the floor, a stack 
of money before each of them. In the center, the current 
"pot" showed that the hands had created some excitement, 
and though two men had already dropped their cards face 
down on the floor, the other three scrutinized their cards 
intently. 

"See you!" one man snapped, pushing a pile of money 
almost all he had into the middle. 

"Too rich for me," a second said, laying down his cards. 

The third manthe one with the largest stack of money 

95 



Father Cyclone 

showed the five cards he had held close to his chest three 
queens, a ten and a six. "Three very pretty girls," he grinned, 
pulling the stack of money toward his pile. 

"Damn!" the first man showed three jacks, a ten and an 
eight. "How in heU . . ." 

Lynch cleared his throat, moved forward. 'The Army 
wants in. What's chances?" 

The marines looked up startled, but relaxed when they 
saw the G.L Several of them grinned broadly, and the first 
man said, "Army dough is as good as Navy dough any day. 
Shove over, Mack." 

Lynch squatted between the two of them, while another 
asked him: "Know what they say in the Navy, soldier?" 

Tm listening," Lynch said. 

"They say as how the guys in Washington ain't got much 
sense. If they'd pay off the Army and let the Navy shoot 
craps or play poker with 'em, Uncle Sam wouldn't have to 
pay the Navy . . . and everybody knows when the Navy's 
in, the Marines are in front." He laughed. "Just warning 
you, pal. Like Flick says, Army dough is good as any other 
kind." 

Lynch nodded. "Thanks for the warning. What stakes?" 

"Dollar limit," another marine told him riffling the cards. 
"Quarter opener." 

Lynch pulled some coins out of his pocket and added 
four one-dollar bills to them. "Like to start small," he 
grinned. "Makes the pile look better when it's another man's 
money. Say, none of you from Brooklyn by any chance?" 

"Naw," the dealer grunted. 

"That's real tough." Lynch studied his cards. 

96 



Father Cyclone 

"What's tough about it?" Flick leaned forward. 

Lynch shrugged. "Fair is fair/' he said. "You warned me; 
I figure I ought to warn you. I'm from Brooklyn, and when 
we play poker or anything else! in Brooklyn, we play for 
keeps." 

"Yah!" another marine made a rude sound. "Play cards/' 

It is axiomatic to poker players that an extra player join- 
ing a game usually changes the run of the cards, and fre- 
quently changes the run of luck. It was not surprising, there- 
fore, that the piles of money shifted somewhat, but it was 
astonishing how the shift seemed to settle into an ever- 
increasing stream in one direction before the newcomer. 

"Damn it," a marine called George barked, "he talks to 
the cards!" 

"Hun-nuh," Lynch shook his head. "I told you. I'm from 
Brooklyn, and they recognize me." 

"What the hell's Brooklyn got to do with a winning 
streak?" Chet demanded. 

"With an Irish fireman for a Pop, and Brooklyn behind 
you, you can't lose. Say, how'd you guys wangle a rear ad- 
miral's shack?" 

"This is the gyrenes, soldier. That makes a difference." 

"Yeah," Lynch said, head cocked. "But what if the chap- 
lain passed by and heard you?" 

The man called Spence laughed. "Shows how much the 
Army knows. Marines ain't got no chaplain, Brooklyn. The 
Navy takes cares of us, body and soul." 

"You mean you don't go to services?" 

"That's right. When there's a battlewagon in, we're sup- 

97 



Father Cyclone 

posed to show. But what the hell's that got to do with the 
price of radishes in China? Play poker." 

"I pass this one," Lynch said. "Don't s'pose any of you 
are Catholic?" 

"Three of us," George snapped. "Say, what the hell is this 
anyway, a prayer meeting?" 

"Nope," Lynch said. "Just wondered if any of you want 
a chance to win back some of this dough." 

"The night's young, feller. We got plenty chance yet," 
Flick said. 

"Sorry. I got a date with a guy," Lynch said. 

"You mean you're fixin' to quit now you got all the 
dough?" Chet was turning ugly. 

"Gotta," Lynch grinned. "But if you guys come over to 
the All-Services Chapel Sunday night to six o'clock Mass, 
111 give you your chance afterwards." 

Chet jumped up. "What the hell is this, a gag?" 

George's eyes narrowed. "Shut up, Chet. Just who are 
you, Brooklyn?" 

"Father Lawrence Lynch, Chaplain, attached to . . ." 

"Of all the dirty . , ." Chet stopped him. 

"Stow it," George snapped, and Spence spoke simulta- 
neously, "Shut up, Chet." Mack grunted, "Quiet, you damned 
fool." 

"Hey!" Lynch said. "The guy's got a right to say what he 
wants." Most of them were on their feet now, and Lynch 
got up slowly. "Maybe after he's said it, hell feel better 
and I can make that deal for Sunday." 

Chefs back was ramrod-stiff. "Sir, I ..." 

Lynch laughed. "You going mighty formal now, Chet!" 

98 



Father Cyclone 

"Lynch!" George said, thoughtful. "Gripes. I met a guy 
came on a ship with a padre named Lynch. Could be ... 
you're him!" 

*Tm afraid there's no doubt about it," Lynch smiled. 

Chet's anger was beyond control. "I don't care who he is, 
it was a stinking, lousy trick and by God, if he wasn't an 
officer, I'd . . ." 

Lynch's eyes blazed, but his voice was gentle. "You didn't 
know two minutes back that I've got rank," he said to Chet, 
rolling up his sleeves. "You don't know it now. I've got no 
insignia showing and you've got a right to tangle with any 
G.I. who's willing to tangle with you. And any man who 
says different, I'll swear he's lying." 

Chet flushed, but before he could move, Spence stood 
between the two men. "Father, maybe you should know. 
Chet's our boxing champ/' 

Lynch assessed the tall, broad-shouldered marine who 
glared down at him and shrugged. "My offer still stands," 
he said. 

Suddenly, the humor of it struck Chet. He laughed sheep- 
ishly. "Okay, Brooklyn. Skip it." The tension was gone as 
suddenly as it had come. "Just tell me one thing. Who in 
hell . . . excuse me, Padre . . ," 

"Hell's a good word. Go on, Chet." 

"Who taught you to play poker? And don't give us that 
Brooklyn routine." 

"A couple of marines on the way out here," the priest 
grinned. "Matter of fact, my Mom would have scalped me 
if she ever caught me playing cards for money/' 

"How come you ... I mean . . ." Mack looked from 

99 



Father Cyclone 

Lynch to the money on the floor. "That's all yours. Yon 
weren't planning on letting us win it back?" 

"Certainly not/' Lynch said. "I'm not bribing you. If yon 
get it back, it's because you win it." 

"Sure. But I thought . . . aren't you priests, that is ..." 

Lynch waited, but Mack couldn't go on. At last the priest 
looked from one man to another until he had scanned the 
entire circle of faces. "You want to know how I, a priest, 
can keep money?" he asked at last. "Til tell you, but you've 
got to give me your word you'll keep it a secret." Once again 
the dark eyes searched each face, and each man in turn 
nodded. "The day after I landed, I heard about Ducos." 

Chet gasped. "Ducos! Padre, that's out of bounds!" 

Spence looked scared. "The lepers!" he whispered. 

Mack's face turned brick red. "You been there?" When 
Lynch nodded, he wiped his forehead with the palm of his 
hand. "You gonna send your winnings to Ducos? Sorry, 
Padre. Make believe I ain't said nothing." 

Lynch nodded again. "You promised, remember. And 
now, what about my deal?" 

"You got a deal, Father," George said, quiet. 

Lynch glanced at his watch. "Yipes, I've kept that exec 
waiting for nearly two hours. I'll catch it sure." He was 
gone before they realized that he intended leaving. 

"My God!" Chet breathed. "That guy shoulda been an 
actor." 

"What about it, Chet? Sunday, I mean?" 

Chet groaned. "Now I gotta go to church yet!" 

"You mean ynu're really going?" 

100 



Father Cyclone 

"You're all going/* George said firmly. "You gave your 
word, and by God, 111 see you keep it." 

"George is right," Chet said. "And if he needs help . . * 



Lt Harry Coster, executive officer of the naval procure- 
ment depot, puffed restlessly on his limp cigarette, lit an- 
other from its half-burned stub, and inhaled deeply. He 
wished fervently that the man who sat in his office would 
go. He cursed himself for agreeing to this appointment. He 
wondered what his visitor wanted. 

The chaplain had talked about everything under the sun 
except why he had telephoned for this appointment. He 
had been inexcusably late; he hadn't even apologized or 
explained. God! This lousy war! You were at the beck and 
call of every crackpot with an ax to grind. And chaplains 
were the worst. Always wanted more than anybody else. A 
bunch of procurers, always grubbing for some sort of stake. 

"My Mom used to say it wasn't safe to give me an inch!" 
the chaplain was saying. "But you've got to know Mom be- 
fore you cansay, it's not so far from Jersey to Brooklyn. 
What about it, Lieutenant? If I give you the address, will 
you pop in and see Mom one day?" 

"Sure, Father. Sure," Coster said, hoping to stem the tide. 
"Now, if youll tell me what you want." 

"I promised Mom she'd hear from me every day of her 
life, and I've figured out a routine . . ." 

101 



Father Cyclone 

*Ym sorry, Father/' Perhaps a firm approach would do it. 
Tve got a report to turn in at SOPAC. I'm late already." 

"Why didn't you say so before?" Lynch asked, sitting up 
straight, eyes bright. "My gosh, if I'd known, I'd never all 
right, Lieutenant. I won't hold you up, and I really am 
sorry." 

"If you'll just tell me what you want, Father." That girl 
in Noumea wouldn't wait forever; she'd get a kick out of 
becoming a report to SOPAC but hell, it was the only thing 
could make this . . . His thoughts stopped, shocked into 
attention by the chaplain's words. 

*. . . and if you'll get us the matzoth and kosher wine . . " 

"I beg your pardon, Father?" 

"You haven't been listening!" Lynch said reproachfully. 

"Of course I have/' Coster protested. "But I thought you 
said you wanted matzoth and kosher wine." 

"I did," Lynch said. "You can't have a Seder without them, 
and you know how it is in the Army. There's to be a cele- 
bration at the base hospital, and if I went to the High Com- 
mand and asked for matzoth and kosher wine for the 42nd 
QM Mobile . . ." 

<f l didn't know you'd become attached to the 42nd," Coster 
said. 

"I haven't. I'm still officially Island Command, but . . . 
weVe sort of adopted each other." 

"Why can't the men of the 42iid go to the hospital for 
their Seder?" 

"There's over a hundred of them. And getting them to 
town . . " 

"But you can't conduct a Jewish Seder, Father!" Coster 

102 



Father Cyclone 

had actually forgotten for the moment the girl who waited 
down in Noumea. "Why, I've never heard of such a thing! 
It ... it's indecent. It's against regulations. I ... you . . . 
you re ^ . . . I understood you re a . . /' He stopped, afraid 
of saying the wron g thing. 

9 Lynch n^ded. "That's right. I am a Catholic priest But 
I'm also a chay.^ an( j ^ on iy one near g^ug^ to the 
42nd to be of help v, ^ men ^ it 
"But a rabbi ... I m^ n ^ ^ 
"You know where there is 



we can impress j^ serv . 

. V* 

icer 

"As a matter of fact, I know there a~> severa l m t ^ Coster 
began and stopped. 

"Exactly," Lynch said. "The island of New 
an area of over six thousand square miles, 
armed forces are spread out over distances from one c^ 
the island to the other, or so it seems to me. Of course, T 
haven't been here long enough yet to know ? but they tell me 
the 42nd has been called the fatherless tank battalion be- 
cause they've never had a chaplain." 

"All the same, Father, a Passover celebration isn't like a 
... a ... Catholic Mass. You don't just decide to have 
one and have it! You've got to follow the rules. The food, 
it's got to be prepared by . . " 

"I know," Lynch interrupted. "I can arrange for that." 
"But if you've got a kosher cook, he could make matzoth. 3 " 
Lynch smiled. "I wouldn't exactly call him a kosher cook. 
Of course we'll sterilize the utensils, and hell follow the 
rules to the letter, but I don't think even McCarthy can 
make matzoth." 

103 



Father Cyclone 

"McCarthy?" Coster gagged on the name. 

"Company cook for the 42nd. So if you'll guarantee tie 
matzoth and wine . . ." he shrugged. "It'd be a cinqk for 
the Navy, but you know how it is in the Army." _/' 

Coster nodded, his mouth feeling stiff. "You!, get your 
matzoth and wine, Father. It'll take doing, ' 

9 jT 

em. y^ 

Lynch stood up immediately. "Bless pX Lieutenant. Now, 
I'll get out of your hair and let yoj^* to your date. Thanks 

' 



1 r, 1 

That's all right, Fathe^ oster murmured. For the mo- 
ment, the crack abopX^ date went unnoticed, even the 
date itself forgotV^^ atzot '' 1 an< ^ kosher wineand a Seder 
coolfei by l^ky- Great God! 



Long before it was time for the Sunday evening Mass to 
begin, Glenn Kittler was at the chapel because Lynch had 
told him to be there. He didn't mind that too much, but he 
had no intention of permitting the priest to detain him after 
Mass. He had a date in town for dinner and had arranged for 
a ride in a supply depot jeep. He hoped fervently that 
Lynch wouldn't preach, wouldn't take too much time getting 
started, wouldn't go through his "vestment routine." 

Lynch arrived shortly after five and increased Kittler's 
irritation by patrolling up and down the company street, 
hailing every passing soldier, calling an unbelievable num- 

104 



Father Cyclone 

ber of them by first name, seeming almost to force them into 
the chapel. There was something wrong about it, something 
cheap, Kittler thought. Like an evangelist getting customers 
for a revival meeting. 

The strange thing was the number of men sailors, marines, 
soldiers who headed directly into the chapel! Stranger still, 
it seemed obvioip that many of them were not Catholics. 

Long before he lighted the altar candles, Kittler thanked 
his stars he had had the foresight to borrow extra benches 
from the mess to fill the open space made by the new parti- 
tion. 

He had assumed Lynch would "put on an act" with the 
vestments and. laid them out in full view, but when the 
sailor from SOPAC who was to be his second server asked 
"Is he gonna put on a show?" Kittler snapped at him in fury, 
irritated that his own thought had been verbally expressed. 

Lynch went to the altar, put on his robes, Deposited the 
covered chalice, stepped back and began the Masz without 
any preliminary comment. He read the Gospel, and Kittler 
bit his lip: Lynch intended to preach! He might have known. 
He expected bombast; instead, Lynch spoke quietly. 

"You remember how that company clerk pestered you un- 
til you took that application form and signed up for your 
$10,000 government life insurance? Life insurance is a great 
idea, and you're glad you're insured. Lucky for you too that 
you have a steady job so you can meet the monthly pay- 
ments." His voice filled the stillness of the chapel. 

"Of course, no insurance can keep, preserve, safeguard and 
insure your never losing your natural life. Yet there is an 

105 



Father Cyclone 

insurance which will build up your soul's life. Not alone build 
it up, but keep it healthy, preserve it so that you can never 
lose it. 

"This insurance is Holy Communion. You have to make 
your monthly payments too. The simplest statement of the 
policy is "HOLY COMMUNION ONCE EVERY MONTH EVERY YEAR 
OF YOUR LIFE/ That's your contract, men. And you can't af- 
ford to let a month go by without paying. 

"7 am the resurrection and the life" That is your bene- 
fits: Life of the soul and resurrection of theJatSdy. See, even 
the body cannot lose its life since Christ, by reason of the 
Blessed Sacrament, will give the girof His resurrection to 
your body. 

"Now, along with this lifc^ insurance, you will have to 
have accident and fire Insurance. Regular inspections, re- 



pairing possible traps- 'and patching the tires each month. 



That helps. jMt is your Examination of Conscience. That 
is your cb^ck list. Take that list to the insurance office the 
coj^fe^sional. Take it to your insurance agent your priest. 
Monthly Confession is the only way to patch up the past 
accidents and avoid absolutely any further smashups or acci- 
dents of mortal sin. 

"Every mortal sin is a three-alarm blaze. All hell breaks 
loose and one flame fans another, and soon your soul is a 
roaring inferno, your conscience hell on earth/* 

His gestures were meager, his enunciation clear and sharp. 
He was talking in a casual, intimate way to each man, reach- 
ing out to them, talking a language they understood. He 
paused briefly to make his point the more emphatic. 

106 



Father Cyclone 

"Are you protected? Do yon carry life insurance? Have 
you paid up on the accident and fire insurance? 

"This is strictly business talk. How's business ... of your 
salvation? In case of accident the accident of mortal sin- 
call on a priest in Confession. You can tell how you're listed 
in Heaven's Dun and Bradstreet by asking yourself when 
was your last Confession and Communion. 

"What about back payments? Are they long overdue? 
Your priest is your good insurance salesman. Get around and 
see him pronto, immediately, and insure your eternal life 
against eternal death, accident or fire by a good Confession 
and Holy Communion. 

"Immediately after Mass, I'll be waiting for you. God bless 
you and keep you smiling always/' 

He raised his hand in the sign of the cross over them, 
turned and began the Credo. Glenn Kittler, kneeling behind 
him, made the response at its conclusion automatically, his 
mind in a tumult of conflict It had been so short, so pungent! 
It had lasted less than three minutes! The men had liked it! 
It had been addressed to the Catholic men; Lynch had 
simply ignored the others. Then, why had he gotten them 
there? There could be no doubt about the fact that he, and 
he alone, was responsible for their presence in the chapel 
at that time. 

The Mass ritual went on through the beginning of the 
Offertory, the washing of hands, to the moment when the 
priest turned and said aloud: "Orate, fratres; ut meum ac 
vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud Deum Patrem 
omnipatentem" When he had finished, Lynch stood there, 

107 



Father Cyclone 

hands uplifted, waiting; most of the men looked up, wonder- 
ing what was to come. 

"Did you hear that, men?" Lynch spoke quietly as before, 
but every man heard him. ft 'Orate fratres'fx&y, brethren. 
That means you each one of you; 'Pray that my sacrifice and 
yours may be acceptable to God, the Father Almighty. 9 It 
doesn't matter what your religion is those of you who are 
not Catholic. You are sharing in this sacrifice I am about to 
offer to God, the Father Almighty. Pray with me now, for 
you are as much a part of this as I am. Pray that my sacrifice 
and yours may be acceptable to God." 

When the Mass was over, Kittler wasn't sure whether he 
was annoyed at Lynch for what he felt was lack of respect 
for the Mass, or whether he was annoyed at himself for let- 
ting the priest make an impression on him, because he could 
not deny to himself that Lynch had made an impression. 

He began packing the Mass kit hurriedly, noticing with- 
out interest the long lines forming outside the confessional. 
He was in a hurry; he had a jeep waiting to take him to a 
delightful evening in town. The chaplain would be stuck 
there for a long time by the looks of it. 

When Father Lynch finished his prayers of thanksgiving, 
he passed close to Kittler on his way to the confessional and 
said, "Wait for me, Champ. There's something we've got to 
do." 

Kittler started to explain, but stopped. The priest was no 
longer there. Anger welled up in him and his fingernails dug 
into his palms as he stood still, cursing. For a brief moment, 
he was tempted to ignore the order, but there are some 

108 



Father Cyclone 

things not even a chaplain's assistant can do in the Army in 
wartime. 

Glenn Kittler went to find the supply sergeant and the 
jeep determined that one day, somehow, Father Lawrence 
E. Lynch would pay for his disappointment. 



109 



CHAPTER SEVEN 



The days and weeks that followed should have formed 
themselves into a patterna routine into which a man's job 
falls and in which he can make plans for tomorrow and to- 
morrow. But this was never true with Glenn Kittler's job as 
assistant chaplain to Father Lawrence Lynch. 

He never knew, when he got up in the morning, what the 
day would hold for him. He could be sure of one thing only: 
that sometime during the day, and somewhere on New 
Caledonia, he would serve a Mass. In the beginning, he used 
to anticipate Lynch by setting up the Mass kit in the All- 
Services Chapel, but so often did the chaplain breeze in, 
ordering him to pack the kit because he had arranged to say 
Mass somewhere else, that Kittler decided to wait until the 
last minute before starting. He hoped sometimes that it 
annoyed Lynch to have to wait and stubbornly refused to 
ask the priest beforehand where and when the Mass would 
be said. 

110 



Father Cyclone 

Lynch made no sign that he noticed it. In fact it seemed 
to Kittler that Lynch deliberately ignored him unless he 
wanted something extraordinary done. 

And Lynch had some extraordinary ideas. Never a day 
passed but he thought of some new scheme, some new con- 
struction plan, and always, as in the case of the chapel and 
the seabees, it was Lynch who started the job and Kittler 
who had to carry it through to its conclusion. The priest had 
a genius for getting whatever he wanted. Kittler thought of 
him as the "greatest procurer in the world." But it was Glenn 
Kittler who had to become the politician, the good friend of 
supply sergeants, the stevedore to warehouse managers, the 
assistant to procurement officers and men on K.P. duty alike. 

Kittler's bitterness and dislike for the chaplain grew like a 
canker, yet he managed to conceal his reactions, speaking 
seldom, going about his work and accomplishing the virtu- 
ally impossible at the behest of the chaplain. Lynch wanted 
a choir; Kittler got one, organized it, led it, though he was 
admittedly no musician. Lynch decided the 42nd needed a 
recreation room; Kittler got one, then had to keep it clean. 
Lynch wanted an athletic supply for the "Rec Room"; he 
got it and his assistant had charge of it. He wanted a library 
built into one corner of the room; he started the job and 
Kittler finished it. 

Lynch had a habit of telling any man on the island who 
had a problem that "Kittler will fix it." Once a dog belong- 
ing to the mailroom crew became ill, and the men brought 
it to Kittler. He could find no vet, and it took him hours to 
persuade a doctor to officiate, but it was done. A steady 
stream of men came to the office for one thing or another 

111 



Father Cyclone 

invited by Lynchbut it was Kittler who became teacher, 
adviser, priest to most of them. 

But more than anything else, Lynch's habit of disappear- 
ing for hours at a stretch infuriated his assistant. The wine 
supply had dwindled to almost nothing, but when Kittler 
tried to find the priest to warn him of it, Lynch had vanished 
and immediately after Mass I Part of Kittler's job was re- 
sponsibility to the High Command for his superior. He was 
expected to know where the priest was and to get him when 
he was wanted, but most of the time, he had no notion 
where Lynch went on his mysterious errands. 

One morning Lt. Col. Klein telephoned. He wanted Lynch 
and he wanted him immediately. Kittler said he'd try to lo- 
cate the priest, but when Klein called for the fourth time at 
noon, there was still no sign of Lynch. By five o'clock, Kittler 
had reached the boiling point, and when Lynch breezed 
in, sunburned and beaming, with his usual, gay "Hi-ya, 
Champ!" Kittler was ready for him. 

"Where Ve you been?" he demanded. "I've been trying to 
find you all day!" 

"On a picnic," Lynch grinned. 

"You might have told me," Kittler snapped, 

"Maybe I was scared you wouldn't let me go," he said. 

This made Kittler suddenly aware of their relative posi- 
tions. "Colonel Klein wants to see you, sir," he said stiffly. 
"He has been calling since this morning." 

Lynch moved quickly to his assistant's side, touched his 
shoulder lightly. "Don't be irked with me, Champ," he said, 
an odd appeal in his tone. 

Kittler's fists clenched, and his face became red. He started 

112 



Father Cyclone 

to speak, but Lynch stopped him with a laugh. "I'll bet by 
now Klein's good and mad. One thing you can always count 
on, Champ. When a guy's angry, you can do what you want 
with him. His defenses are down and he's fair game." 

Whether it was meant as a lesson or a warning, Kittler 
never knew. Without giving him time to answer, Lynch 
swung on his heel and was gone, leaving his assistant de- 
feated, frustrated, furiously angry both at himself and at the 
priest. 



Lt. Col. Julius Klein was half sitting, half lying on his 
bunk when Lynch finally found him. His face was blue, and 
he was fighting for breath. The priest moved swiftly. "Here. 
Stretch out flat." He swung the man's whole body, lifting his 
legs so that he lay full length on the cot. 

'1 ... don't . . . want . . . Father . . ." 

"Shut up," Lynch ordered, beginning to take off Klein's 
shoes. "Open your belt, if you can." 

"Please . . ." Klein tried again, 

"If you don't shut up, I'll make you," Lynch threatened, 
sliding a pillow under Klein's head, working it down under 
his shoulders and propping him up with it so that he rested 
against the head of the bed. "Now you sit tight and I'll get 
the medic in." 

"No," Klein said, his eyes dilated and his lips still blue. 
"I don't . . . want . . . anyone ... to know. It'll pass." 

"Sure. So will you," Lynch snapped. 

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Father Cyclone 

"They'll . . . ship me out. I ... I ... can't ... go now. 
Just overwork. A little . . . tired. The 523rd . . ." 

"Yeah, I know. Had this before?" Klein's eyes blinked and 
he nodded. "As bad as this?" 

"Sure," Klein gasped. His eyes flickered and the word 
wasn't as emphatic as he obviously intended it to be. 

"You're lying/' Lynch said. "Don't you know yet you can't 
lie to me? Ever had a doctorthose other times?" 

"In an hour . . . Ill be fit as . . ." 

"Nuts/' Lynch said. "I'm going for the medic." 

Color was returning to the pinched, gray face. "Father, 
please. They'll ship me out and I can't go now. I've got a job 
to finish." 

"Sure. I know all about that. But a dead man's not much 
use in this man's Army. You've got to have a medic, and I'm 
going to get you one." 

"It's my ticker and my responsibility," Klein began, but 
again Lynch stopped him. 

"No. You made it my responsibility when you sent for me ? 
and I can't accept it as such unless you have a doctor in. 
Since I can't refuse it and quit on you, you've got no choice." 
At the door, he turned and winked. "I know a guy. He's in 
the Navy. He'll come see an old plug-ugly with a bum 
ticker." 

Relief showed in Klein's eyes. "Thanks. Then nobody need 
know." 

But Lynch was evasive. "We'll see about that" he said, 
"after we hear what Pat Sheehan has to say. Where's Harry?" 

"I ... sent him off ... this morning. When the pain 
first started." 

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Father Cyclone 

"I suppose you told him you had indigestion," Lynch 
guessed, and Klein nodded. "You think Harry's a fool?" 

"In a coupla hours . . . thisll pass. I left the office as soon 
as it started/' 

"All right/' Lynch persisted. "But you could pass with it, 
like I said. Now, don't you move not even a finger till I 
get back." He made no sound as he closed the door. 

Klein had no idea how long it was before Lynch returned, 
but when he did, he was followed by a lieutenant com- 
mander. 

"Meet Pat Sheehan, Colonel Julius. He's from Brooklyn 
too and that makes him a right guy." His light tone changed 
when he turned to his companion. "Give him the works, Pat. 
And don't listen to any of his bilge." 

The doctor pulled a stethoscope out of his pocket and 
moved toward the cot. "Father Larry is building himself a 
reputation. Around Turtle Bay there's a saying if a thing's 
not nailed down, it's not safe when Brooklyn's around. Now 
he's snitching navy lingo for the Army." While he talked, he 
worked, his movements swift, effortless, assured. "Can you 
breathe deeper, please?" 

"I ... I'm afraid I ... can't," Klein gasped. 

The doctor nodded, took his blood pressure without com- 
ment, pulled a hypodermic case from another pocket "I'm 
going to put you to sleep, but medicine's not enough for this 
sort of thing you know." 

"What'd you tell him?" Klein asked Lynch accusingly. 

"I didn't. When he gets through poking and pinching you, 
he 11 tell you. Right, Pat?" 

115 



Father Cyclone 

The doctor wiped Klein's arm where the needle had dug 
in. "What do you want me to tell him, Father?" 

Lynch looked at him swiftly, then back at Klein. "Wait. 
Colonel Julius, you want it straight?" 

Klein nodded, fear clouding his eyes. 

Lynch said, his eyes on Klein: "Give it to him, Pat. He can 
take it and I want you to know, Colonel Julius, I haven't 
discussed it with him/* 

Klein nodded. 

"It's not good, sir," Sheehan said. "A bum ticker, like 
Father said when he asked me to come. Coupled with high 
blood pressure, overwork, and too many of those/' he pointed 
to the dead cigar on the table. "Two-three days in bed here, 
maybe. But after that out!" His gesture was eloquent 

"As bad as that?" Lynch asked, startled. 

"Could be worse, Father. I'd prefer to have him in sick 
bay." 

Klein's mouth, less blue now, set in a tight line, his eyes 
were on Lynch. "I trusted you . . ." he began, but the priest 
stopped him. "You're too old to try walking a tightrope now." 
Lynch turned to the doctor. "Pat, if he obeys orders . . . ?" 

"His chances would be as good as the next man's, no bet- 
ter." 

"And if he ships out?" 

"A whole lot better. How long since you had leave, sir?" 
Pat asked. 

Klein's eyes flickered and Lynch laughed. "Don't believe 
him, Pat. He's going to lie. From what he's told me, I think 
close to three years." 

"They won't let me come back if I go now," Klein mut- 

116 



Father Cyclone 

tered. "I've got to finish the reorganization of the 523rd. Tve 
got to stay." His eyes began to glaze as the opiate took effect. 
Then he was asleep. 

"He won't go/' Lynch said with certainty. "Could be 
maybe he could have grippe here a few days maybe you'd 
sort of drop by for a game of pinochle?" 

"It could be, Father, but frankly I don't like it. Complete 
, 
rest . . . 

"Know what I've discovered? When a guy's got his heart 
set on doing a job, he can usually take plenty of punishment 
doing it," Lynch said. 

"Right, but when a guy's heart stops working, he dies. 
He'll do for nine-ten hours. When he wakes he'U be feel- 
ing chipper. Keep him flat and I'll be over after chow for 
that game of pinochle." 

"Thanks, Pat. And God bless you. Come along and I'll take 
you back to Turtle Bay." 



Glenn Kittler had spent many hours in serious and search- 
ing thought since the moment Lynch left to see Klein. He 
had tried to evaluate the chaplain, tried desperately hard. 
And now he had come to a decision. 

Lynch's inexhaustible energy very nearly overpowered the 
slower, more methodical Kittler. His easy, rough comarad- 
erie with the enlisted men was, in the eyes of his sober and 
sedate assistant, vulgar. His lack of what Battler called re- 

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Father Cyclone 

straint, Ms undignified attitude with regard to his position as 
chaplain, were inexcusable. 

Yet Lynch was a perfectionist in the matter of work, and 
demanded the same perfection in his assistant, without 
keeping him informed of details of which he should have 
been cognizant. 

Kittler resented the fact that Lynch could goad him to 
open anger. He was revolted by the priest's intimacy with 
some of the men. It was the only word he could think of to 
describe what he considered unpriestly actions as, for ex- 
ample, the day he heard Lynch's voice from a shack along 
the company street: 

**! love you very much. You're the only girl in the world 
for me and , . ." 

Kittler had paused, waiting for the voice to go on. When it 
did, the priest said: 

"But look, Fred, don't you think you should tell her you're 
saving all that money for her?" 

"Hun-nuh, Father Larry. Leave us skip that. If she's gonna 
wait, she's gonna wait. If she ain't, I don't want her if she 
only wants my dough." 

That was a job he, Kittler, should have been doing. No 
one knew better how many men there were in the army who 
couldn't write letters. He had written many such letters, and 
that was his job. 

Most of all, Kittler resented this business of Lynda's "mar- 
riage" to the 42nd QM Mobile, Lawrence Lynch was Cath- 
olic chaplain for all service troops in the Island Command 
with no chaplain of their own; this business of Klein calling 
him and of Lynch obeying the call griped him almost be- 

118 



Father Cyclone 

yond endurance. Lynch, and Lynch's assistant, were at- 
tached to the Island Command, not to the 42nd. 

He had no idea when Lynch's light went on. He was in his 
own shack, bent over his portable typewriter, working on 
the final draft of his request for transfer. He didn't plan to 
discuss it with his superior, but simply to put it on his desk 
for signature. Lynch had to okay it, of course. And Kittler 
was sure he would without question. 

He wasn't aware his door had opened or that Lynch stood 
behind him, watching him through narrowed eyes. His back 
stiffened when he heard the familiar chuckle, the jeer in 
Lynch's gay voice. 

"So you're gonna quit me?" He couldnt know what Kittler 
was writing! "G'wan. I know what you're thinking. IVe 
known for a long time." Kittler yanked the request for trans- 
fer out of the machine and swung around, eyes blazing, face 
hot. "J ust a Brooklyn bum! Huh?" Incredible how the man 
could read ones mind. "Come on, Champ. That's it ain't it?" 

If anything, the lapse into what Kittlea: termed "The Act" 
only added fuel to the flame of his anger. He was standing, 
unconscious of having gotten up. This time he was deter- 
mined not to become involved in any sort of verbal duel with 
this man who always managed to defeat him. 

"You don't like it/' Lynch was saying, exaggerating the 
roughness. "You'll never like me. You don't like the way I 
work. Admit it, wretch. You think I'm no good, but why 
don't you say it out loud? Come on, ya louse!" Suddenly the 
tough stance changed, the harsh voice became a chuckle. 
"May as well, you know, Glenn. You would have to answer 
if I asked you in confession, you can't lie in there!" With one 

119 



Father Cyclone 
of those lighteninglike changes, the mobile face sobered. 

Lynch put his hand on the younger man's shoulder. Dark 
eyes searched gray-blue eyes which at first refused to meet 
them. 

"Okay, Champ. You win. Let's have it out? The whole 
gripe!" 

Glenn Kittler knew he was beaten again. He didn't want 
to talk, but the words poured out "I've worked with other 
priests two of them before you. I never had any trouble 
before, but you . . . you . . . heck, you drive a man mad. 
I can't figure you, Father, I just can't.'* 

"What can't you figure, Glenn?" 

Battler's mouth was dry; his fingers trembled and his face 
was hot. "I'm no mind reader. I don't know half the time 
where you are, what you want done, what you're up to. I'm 
responsible to the Command when you're wanted, but I 
never know where to start looking." 

"That's not all of it," Lynch said. "It'll make things easier 
if you spill it all now. Get it off your chest not that stuff 
you just threw at me, but the real gripe." 

"All right," Kittler snapped. "If you want it that way. Some 
of the guys say . . . they think you're . . . common. 
You've got no ... no priestly dignity. They say . . . they 
think . . ." 

"The point is, you feel that way, too, isn't it?" 

"I ... I guess that's it," Kittler said. 

"So you're asking for a transfer?" 

"I figured . . . I've been thinking for a long time maybe 
it'd be better if I transferred out and let someone of your 
own type take over." 

120 



Father Cyclone 

"Just what is my type, Glenn?" Lynch was probing re- 
lentlessly, pushing him to a wall, forcing him to say things 
he had never meant to say. 

"I dunno, Father. I just can't figure you. I guess if s what 
they call an inferiority complex/' 

Larry Lynch's eyes opened wide and a dark stain touched 
his cheek. "You can't stop now. Go on. What makes you think 
I've got an inferiority complex?" 

"I don't know!" Kittler said, helpless. "Maybe the way you 
. . . you cater to the mob. This Brooklyn routine of yours 
. . . your . . . your good-fellow act . . . as if it's self-glori- 
fication. Sometimes you act like you're the buddy of every 
guy on the post." 

"Is that bad?" Lynch asked. 

"That's not what I mean. It's not . . . Oh, hell. I can't ex- 
plain it. Sometimes you act like you're a kingpin; there's 
nothing too big for you. Why, I wouldn't put it past you to 
pull any kind of stunt even to staging a Mission in St. Jo- 
seph's Cathedral and expecting the whole Island Command 
to show. The fact that nobody's made a successful Mission 
there would automatically suggest to you that you re the guy 
to do it and get the place mobbed. It's something I can't 
explain." 

Lynch waited, motionless. When Kittler stopped, the priest 
shook his head. "You're mixed up, Champ. And you're all 
wrong, in spots. So I act like a bum? But did you notice how 
often it pays off? I rave about Brooklyn some of the fellows 
even call me Brooklyn. But that routine, as you call it, is al- 
ways good for a laugh; and when a man laughs, like when 
he's angry, you can reach him. Sure I could sit here in the 

121 



Father Cyclone 

office all day; that'd be a cinch. But what about the guys who 
wont come in here? The fellows who really need me won't 
come looking for me; I've got to go to them." 

"But that doesn't excuse all the . . ." Kittler stopped 
abruptly, suddenly conscious of where his thoughts were 
leading him. 

"Say it out loud, Glenn. WeVe not mincing words now. 
Cheapness. Commonness. Are those the words you were 
thinking? All right. Let's use them. But suppose I knew you 
had no religion and I tried to sell it to you right off the bat, 
would you buy it? If you talk a language a man understands, 
you get his attention. You've got to be one of them, make 
them like you, forget you're different; and you can bring 
them around. My system works/* 

Kittler glanced at the request for transfer. "All the same, 
Father, it seems to me . . .* 

"Hun-nuh, Champ. I've known for a long time how you 
felt; don't ever expect me to change to your way of think- 
ing. You'll change to mine eventually; you'll see I'm right, 
too. But you've got to stick around. You've got to be here to 
see I'm right. You'll stick because I can't get along without 
you and you know it!" 

"All right, Father/' Kittler conceded, to his own surprise. 
"I'll stick, but at least you know where I stand." 

Lynch's hand dug into his shoulder. He nodded, turned 
and started for the door, stopped and looked back. "By the 
way, that's a swell idea of yours. St. Joseph's Cathedral 
should hold a lot of guys. How about starting the Mission on 
April 17th? That should give us time. Get some notices 
printed, will you? We'll send out letters to all service men on 

122 



Father Cyclone 

the Island. Like you said, maybe we can get the whole Is- 
land Command to show." 

Kittler stood staring at the closed door, then sank into his 
chair. "Damn!" he muttered 



It was late morning when Lynch entered the shack where 
Lt. Col. Klein lay on his cot, propped high, reading a com- 
pany report and smoking a long, fat cigar. His color was 
better and his eyes were no longer glassy, but now they 
were ringed by dark, heavy circles. 

Without preamble, Lynch went to him, took the bulky 
report out of his hands and the cigar out of his mouth. "Flat, 
Pat said. And that means flat with no work and no smok- 
ing." 

"But Tm fine. Fine. Feel like a new man. All I needed was 
a good sleep and I slept like a baby." 

"Okay," Lynch said. "So you want the medics in." 

"It was just a passing spell, Father. Honest. I ..." 

"Do you want me to turn in a report?" Lynch asked. 

"Certainly not. You promised." 

"Very well, then. Now, I want your word, Colonel Julius. 
As an officer and a gentleman, if you are one. You'll stay in 
that bunk till Pat Sheehan gives you permission to get up or 
111 report you to General Gilbreath himself if I have to." 

"Good Lord, Father, you've got a bunk like this. You know 
what it feels like!" Klein pleaded, but Lynch was adamant 

"Do I get your word?" 



Father Cyclone 

Klein capitulated. "You win, but it means youll have to 
do liaison between the Command and this room. Of course, 
we'll have to tell Harry something, but . . ." 

"I'm still waiting for your word, Colonel Julius/* Lynch 
said. 

"I promise to stay put till Sheehan releases me. Is that all 
right?" 

Lynch nodded. "Pat looks young, but he's quite a lad. One 
of the best heart men in this man's Navy. You sure do meet 
up with all kinds of people in the service. Rabbi Chapman, 
now . . r 

"You said I wasn't to be disturbed," Klein said, as if ward- 
ing off a blow. "If you want the other Island Command chap- 
lains to pool their wine, that's your lookout. You leave me 
be." Klein made a face, pushed his sparse hair back. "I'm a 
sick man," he said. "With Passover coming up . . ." 

"We'll have plenty when we get it for the 42nd Seder/' 
Lynch said. "And by the way, don't forget we're counting on 
you to head the Seder." 

"Father, don't you realize Passover begins at sundown on 
Good Friday?" Automatically, he put the cigar back into his 
mouth; Lynch took it from him and put it back on the table. 

"I've already told you; you're to conduct the service, not 
me if that's what's worrying you. Didn't you tell me once 
you're from a rabbinical family? I've arranged for the 
matzoth and kosher wine, and McCarthy will prepare the 
food." 

Once again, Klein started to get up. "No! This cant hap- 
pen to me. It can't. McCarthy preparing a Seder! My God!" 

"You've got nothing to worry about, except, of course, 

124 



Father Cyclone 

youVe got to study up on all the ritual and prayers. That's 
one thing you can do, lying here." 

"Look here, Father. When the Elihu Thompson went 
down, you explained why you learned Hebrew, but this . . . 
I don't get it.* 

"It's my job to understand the symbolism of all faiths so 
that I may teach the Catholic faith to a man originally of 
another, if he wants to learn it. I'm not saying I know the 
whole Seder ceremony, but I have studied it enough to know 
what's right." 

"I suppose I should have expected it," Klein grunted. 
"Next thing I know you'll be trying to make me into a Cath- 
olic." 

Lynch eyed him quizzically. "You know, Colonel Julius, 
that's not a bad idea." 

"Hey! You leave me be! I'll handle your Seder, 'specially 
since I've got no choice. But all the same, if you figger to 
talk Rabbi Chapman into pooling his wine with you that's 
your lookout." 

Lynch laughed. "You know, I don't think I'll bother. I've 
got a better idea. Now, my friend, for a few minutes we're 
going to disobey Commander Patrick Sheehan. Get in there," 
he indicated a curtained doorway, "and stay there, and for 
the love of heaven, don't peek." 

"What's this all about?" 

Lynch glanced at his watch, out the window, and down 
at Klein. "Git!" he snapped. Klein got. He heard movement, 
voices, but did not look, and tried not to decipher the whis- 
pers. In a few minutes, Lynch called him back and literally 
pushed him into bed. He sank into unbelievable ease and 

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Father Cyclone 

comfort; after the hard bunk he knew he had a mattress 
under him. 

"Where in hell . . . where'd you get it?" he gasped, 
"Short of stealing it/' 

"Shush!" Lynch warned. "Borrowed. That's why I didn't 
want you to see the guys who brought it. Just in case the 
admiral should miss it and get ideas." 

Klein wanted to get up, but Lynch kept him down. "The 
admiral! You're mad. You must be. Get it outta here! Get it 
out! If it's found here . . ," 

"It hasn't even been missed yet," Lynch grinned, "May as 
well enjoy it while you can. Tomorrow's another day. And 
meantime, the admiral's off on a jaunt, I hope." 

The sick man didn't hear the last two words. Reassured, he 
lay back, luxuriating in the softness under him. "I always did 
say the Navy boys get all the breaks. Thanks, Rabbi Lynch. 
Like you said, may as well enjoy it." 

Had he known what the morrow would bring, it is doubt- 
ful Klein would have slept at all that night. 



126 



CHAPTER EIGHT 



St. Joseph's Cathedral stands proudly atop the highest of 
all the hills in the city of Noumea. Its twin towers that 
stretch like reverent fingers into blue skies seem to reach 
across the land toward the port where troopships dock and 
men pile down to the shore, inviting them all to come and 
worship God Almighty. Between the towers a white cross 
gleams, small, yet dominating. 

The climb up Cathedral Hill is steep and long, the road 
rocky and uneven, lined here and there with naoli shade 
trees. Slanting streets turn off at sharp angles, and the per- 
sistent rains wash rivers of mud from them which sometimes 
become tiny hills at the street corners. 

Father Lynch's jeep climbed Cathedral Hill easily and he 
swirled it to a flourishing stop at a small postern gate behind 
the cathedral a gate which leads through a lovely garden 
to the rectory. He could see the stooped, bearded man who 
bent over his vegetables, and guessed him to be Father 
Noblet, pastor, and the object of his visit. 

127 



Father Cyclone 

With his usual thoroughness, Larry Lynch had made it his 
business to learn all he could about the cathedral and the 
French priest from the beginning when the Marists had 
first come to New Caledonia thirty years ago. He knew of 
the struggle they had had, their labors among the New Cale- 
donian natives, their difficulty in keeping the mission going 
during the past few years. The old pastor's French had be- 
come a French-Kanaka patois, difficult even for his com- 
patriots to understand. Lynch had never mastered French, 
and as yet knew little of the Kanak tongue. 

He had no intention, however, of permitting language 
difficulties to block his campaign, but when he saw the old 
man puttering in his garden, his cassock a shiny, rusty black 
in the early morning sun, pity clutched at his heart. 

He rattled the knob on the gate, and the old priest looked 
up, smiling and waving his hand, as he had greeted thou- 
sands of Americans who found their way to his little garden. 
He returned to his work, and Larry Lynch opened the gate. 

"I'm Father Lynch of Brooklyn," he announced, more from 
force of habit than anything else, forgetting entirely that 
with his collar turned under and his cap stuck in his belt, 
there was no sign of rank or calling to help the Marist priest 
bridge the gulf of language. "I've come to borrow some of 
your wine." 

Father Noblet looked up, smiled graciously, and with a 
gesture offered Lynch the freedom of his garden. 

Concentrating on what he wanted, Lynch tried to make 
the priest understand, 'Tin fresh out of wine," he said, his 
voice louder, trying to force comprehension in a tongue for- 
eign to his listener. "You got any you can spare?" 

128 



Father Cyclone 

"No speek 'Merican, M'sieu," Father Noblet used his one 
stock phrase, and the form of address brought realization to 
Lynch. He pulled out his collar, grinned, and pointed to the 
tiny cross on the lapel "Padre," he said, still loud. "Vino. 
Vinum. Vino for Mass," he said. 

"Ah! Le vin pour la Messe, mon pere?* Understanding 
lighted the old, lined face and Father Noblet beckoned 
Lynch to follow him into the sacristy in the rear of the 
cathedral. He went directly to a wall cabinet, opened a wine 
case and took out a bottle of wine which he handed to the 
American priest with the graciousness of a king bestowing 
a favor. 

The walk across the threadbare oriental rug was enough 
to make Lynch fully aware of the poverty around him. The 
fine carved work on rare old wood that lined the room was 
beautiful, but it showed the indefinable streaks caused by 
dampness and humidity in the tropics. The furniture was 
well made, but there was little of it; a once white wall closet 
was slightly ajar, its warped doors swinging on rusted hinges, 
and through the opening, Lynch caught a glimpse of thread- 
bare vestments. 

He had a folded bill in his hand and tried to leave it un- 
obtrusively on the table, but the old man saw it and shook 
his head vehemently. "Mais non. Non, mon pre. C'est pour 
le Bon Dieu" 

Lynch flushed. "G'wan. Take it," he insisted as Father 
Noblet tried to force it back into his hand. "Buy yourself a 
cigar," he made a motion as of smoking. The old man smiled 
and nodded. Very simply, he took the bill, said a soft 
"Merci" and put it into his pocket with an old-world bow 

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Father Cyclone 

which somehow conferred an honor by his acceptance of 
the gift. 

It was then that Father Lynch broached the second object 
of his visit. "Say, how's about us giving a Mission in there?" 
he asked, his head indicating the cathedral. He experienced 
a" sense of frustration when the Marist priest again smiled, 
nodded, and indicated that he was welcome to go into the 
cathedral. Once again he used a louder tone. "Missionaire/' 
he said, accompanying the word with the sign of the cross. 
He was rewarded by the light which instantly brightened 
the old man's face. 

"Ah, oui!" The Marist bobbed his head excitedly. "La 
Mission. Mais oui! Bien sur" 

Father Lynch grinned his relief. "Bon. Bon," he repeated. 
"April 17" He took out his notebook and pen and wrote, 
"Mission, April 17-April 23," tore the page out and handed 
it to Father Noblet 

There was complete understanding and great happiness in 
the old, lined face, "Mais owl C'est possible et cest tres 
bien" 

Lynch indicated his desire to go into the cathedral, and 
with a deep obeisance, the old Marist opened the door for 
him, turned, and went out again into his garden. 

Light filtered in from somewhere high in the great dome. 
It sent a shimmering beam to outline the white figure of the 
crucified Christ on its great golden cross over the tabernacle, 
throwing the shadowed outline of the whole Crucifix onto 
the white wall behind it; it glanced off the gold leaf of the 
tabernacle, whitened the cream-aged white of the altar cloth 
and the magnificent carved altar itself. Sharper, heavier sun- 

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Father Cyclone 

beams accentuated the two white angel statues on bronze 
pedestals which flanked either side of the altar. 

The rows of beautifully carved wooden benches stretched 
far back into the vast dimness of the cathedral, giving a deep 
peace and serenity to the place. 

As he knelt at the foot of the altar, some of this peace en- 
tered the soul of Larry Lynch. Something about the cathe- 
dral recalled vividly to his mind that far distant day when 
he had officiated at his first High Mass, made him think of 
Mom's lips opened, tongue extended, face lighted with love 
and joy as her own son placed her own God on it. He thought 
of his Pop, tears creeping down the wide Irish face, and of 
Mary lovely, dark-haired, dark-eyed Mary. He had himself 
performed the marriage ceremony for his sister the little 
girl who had defended him because he had hated so much 
to explain. 

The boys had been there too: Tom and Matt and Phil; 
and Lillie-Anne; and the sweet young girl who was his sister 
too, but who had become Sister Mary Joseph and no longer 
belonged to them at all. 

His eyes stung for a moment, and he prayed for the wel- 
fare of each one of them, making once again the act of re- 
nunciation by which he had dedicated them to the care of the 
Mother of God, deeply, humbly grateful for the blessings 
which had come to him. 

"And now, O Lady of Perpetual Help, by that name I beg 
you once more to come to my aid. This Mission we plan 
needs your help and your blessing to make it successful. Men 
who will come to it may not get another chance to attend 
an earthly Mission; move their hearts so that they will come; 

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Father Cyclone 

show us the way to help them, so that when they come be- 
fore your Beloved Son in sudden death, they will be ready 
and He will welcome them to His Sacred Heart. Give us 
the words to say so that each one of them will receive Him 
in the Holy Sacrament before the Mission is ended. 

"O, my Mother, since it has pleased Your Beloved Son to 
keep me here in this backwater of war, help me to help 
others who will go forward to do His work; show us the way 
to help them to be steadfast in the Faith, ever ready to do 
His bidding, even unto death, so that we may all say with 
one heart and one voice: Thy Will be done!" 



During that day, Father Lynch was in and out of the 
shack where Lt. Col. Klein rested on the soft navy mattress, 
enjoying it to the full, actually studying up on the ritual of 
Seder. Lynch had removed all other reading matter. 

Lt. Commander Patrick Sheehan came early in the eve- 
ning, and it was from him that Lynch and Klein heard the 
"news which very nearly brought on another heart attack. 

To Sheehan it was a tremendous joke. Someone had stolen 
the admiral's own mattress a specially built job. His shoul- 
ders shook with laughter over the discomfiture of the whole 
naval base, but when he described the admiral's wrath and 
added the statement that orders had been issued that "every 
inch of the island was to be searched," Klein blanched. 

He lay still until Sheehan left, but only because Lynch's 
hand on his shoulder kept him down. The minute the door 

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Father Cyclone 

closed, lie was out of bed and staring at the mattress as if it 
had become a coiled snake. "'Get it outta here!'" he tried to 
shout, but his voice was hoarse with anxiety. "Get it out! You 
know whatll happen if it's found here?" 

"It won't be/' Lynch soothed. "Relax, Colonel Julius. ItTl 
take those MP's and SP's at least a couple of hours to cover 
the bay area, much less . . ." 

"You don't know when they started!'* Klein sputtered. 
"How in hell you gonna get it back? If they find it here . . " 

"They won't, I told you." Lynch was stripping the bed. 
"We'll get it back the same way it came/' he said. 

"Don't act dumb," Klein snapped. "You think two men 
carrying a mattress won't be spotted a mile off with the 
whole U.S. military police force searching for it? Why, be- 
fore they go half a mile . . ." 

"Oh, they're not going to carry it back," Lynch grinned, 
remaking the cot. "Youre going to find it for the boys." 

"Me?" Klein stared, horrified. "You gonna get me impli- 
cated in this thing?" He began to look apoplectic. "You can't 
do this to me." 

"Relax, Colonel Julius. As C.O. of the 42nd, wouldn't you 
be expected to know of this search? And what more natural 
than that you should discover the admiral's lost mattress 
stashed away in the quarry back of the amphitheater? Now, 
when you find that out, what do you do? Why, you call 
Turtle Bay and . . " 

"Who's gonna get it to the quarry? You still got to get it 
outta here, and soon as you try that . . ." 

"You forget how dark it is outside?" Lynch finished mak- 
ing up the cot. "Now, you get back in there, and turn your 

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Father Cyclone 

face to the wall. And when I come back, keep it that way. 9 " 
He patted Klein's head gently. "You leave it to me/* and 
then he was gone. 



The beginning of Lent had trebled Glenn Kittler's work, 
and though the situation between himself and Lynch had 
eased somewhat, two Masses a day one each morning and 
night and all the extra services Lynch insisted on were be- 
ginning to tell on him. 

Plans for the Mission to begin April seventeenthjust eight 
days after Easter had to be sandwiched in with his other 
work, and every day Lynch came up with new ideas, new 
plans, new work to be done. An organist would be required; 
Kittler had to find one. Programs, schedules had to be pre- 
pared and printed; Kittler had to get them done. Lynch 
wanted a photographer; Kittler had to arrange for one. 

By the time Palm Sunday came around, Glenn Kittler be- 
gan to wonder if he could survive the nightmare which he 
knew the last week of Lent would be. 

On Monday morning, as the sun came up, he dragged his 
weary body out of deep slumber and since it was too early 
for the first mess, he went to the cookshack for breakfast. 
McCarthy, the chief cook, could talk of nothing but Lynch's 
active participation in the preparation of the Jewish Seder 
to be held on Good Friday night, news of which had not 
reached Kittler before. 

Glenn Kittler would have resented being told that he was 

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Father Cyclone 

intolerant; he would have denied being shocked; he would 
have fought bitterly any suggestion that he was anti any- 
thing. 

Yet, he could not deny that Larry Lynch had managed to 
flout his most deeply rooted religious principles, the funda- 
mental beliefs by which he had been raised and by which 
he lived. 

His resentment of the priest's camaraderie with the men 
returned, multiplied a thousandfold by this newest desecra- 
tion. The things he had voiced to Lynch, the "coarseness" he 
had resented, were as nothing compared to this. Helping 
with a Seder was bad enough, but doing it on the very night 
of Good Friday! It seemed the last possible word in bad 
taste. The coincidence of dates the fact that Good Friday 
and the first Seder fell on April seventh was beside the 
point. 

This time the priest had gone too far. This time his appli- 
cation for transfer would go through. It was waiting on 
Lynch's desk. 

The difficulty was that Lynch rarely bothered to look over 
the papers on his desk, and Kittler saw him infrequently, ex- 
cept at services, when it was out of the question to discuss 
the matter. It was frustrating to wait a whole week, and he 
took a mental vow that Easter Monday would settle the 
matter for good and all. 

He was up early and ready for Lynch that Monday morn- 
ing. He headed for the office shack, and stopped when he 
spotted the priest, sleeves rolled up, beside the jeep not far 
from the cookshack. Father Lynch was methodically load- 
ing it with a startling collection of food! 

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Father Cyclone 

Puzzlement made Kittler pause; he could recall no special 
occasion for this. Whatever Lynch was up to was a private 
project of his own. 

"Hi-ya, Champ," Lynch called over his shoulder. ''Don't 
stand there gaping. Give me a hand with this stuff." 

"What you doing, Father? Starting your own army?" Curi- 
osity got the better of his annoyance. 

"Nope/* Lynch grinned. "Just throwing a little party/' 

Obviously the assistant was not expected to participate 
in it, and this fact didn't help the situation. 

"Just a little gathering of a few hundred or so?" Kittler 
asked, his tone loaded with sarcasm. In spite of himself he 
was helping load a case of canned peaches. "May I be per- 
mitted to ask who for?" 

"Sure," Lynch said. "It's for the Protestant chaplains on 
the whole island. I threw one for the Catholics; remember 
that day I went on the picnic? So I figured . . ." He stopped 
to swing a heavy box onto the jeep. 

"If the Protestants want a picnic, why can't they get their 
own food?" Kittler asked. 

"Because I got it just as easy for them as I got it for the 
Catholics." 

"I'll bet!" Kittler grunted, all his anger returning, "As if 
we haven't got enough trouble already! First the Jewish 
Seder on Good Friday and now . . . Seems like you're 
showing a lot of concern for straying sheep, Father." 

Lynch stopped work, turned and looked at Kittler, eyes 
narrowed. Then he nodded. What he said was surprising; 
more so was the conciliatory tone in which he said it. 
"They're good guys, too, Champ. And that's important. Just 

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Father Cyclone 

because a man wasn't born a Catholic is no sign he's going 
to hell; a man who goes regularly to his own church, lives 
up to its rules, obeys the letter and sense of the law he's got 
a fair chance of heaven too/* 

Tm not knocking the Protestants/* Kittler said, finding 
himself on the defensive and furious about it. "You never 
heard me . . ." 

"I heard a guy tell a snide joke about Protestants a couple 
days back. A guy named Hoary. A lot of the fellows .laughed, 
including you. Like you thought it was funny." 

"So it was/' Kittler said. "A darn good yarn . . ? 

But Lynch stopped him. "A man's religion is one thing no- 
body's got a right to joke about, and nobody's got a right to 
ridicule it. You might remember that, Sergeant/' His voice 
was cold, his look sober. 

He climbed into the jeep, kicked the starter and was off. 
A cloud of dust enveloped Kittler who stood there, fists 
clenched. He could never explain afterwards why he swung 
on his heels, went to the office, and furiously tore the appli- 
cation for transfer into tiny pieces. 

The days which followed were packed tight with work 
for both the priest and his assistant. Lynch seemed to have 
entirely forgotten their sharp encounter and, it seemed to 
Kittler, went out of his way to be nice, considerate, even 
gracious. 

The assistant could not understand his superior, nor could 
he figure why he stuck to Lynch when his every inclination 
was to ask for transfer. He told himself the priest was "put- 
ting on an act," getting set to "put on a show" with the 
Mission. 

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Father Cyclone 

It had to be a complete success so long as Lynch had a 
hand in it, and to insure it, the man was tireless, nauseatingly 
energetic. Every post on the island had to be visited; every 
Catholic chaplain on the island had to be invited to partici- 
pate. 

"Look at itr Lynch waved the list of preachers at Battler, 
who had spent more than two hours looking at it, making 
programs and schedules. ''"Did anybody ever see such a list 
of preachers for a Mission? Twelve, Champ! Twelve priests 
joining together to preach the first American Mission in the 
Pacific. That makes it six times bigger than any Mission any- 
where/* 

"Not the -first, Father/' Kittler said. "Not in the Pacific and 
not even in the cathedral." 

"You still don't think it'll be a success?" Lynch grinned. 
"That's because you've got no faith. You don't know yet what 
Our Lady of Perpetual Help can do, Champ. Stick around. 
We're going to make this a communion drive. Well have 
four priests hearing confessions every morning and night, 
and before we're through, every Catholic man on the island 
will be at the communion rail." 

"You think guys will hike down to the cathedral for morn- 
ing Mass, Father? You realize how far some of them have to 
come?" 

"Hike up, Glenn," Lynch said, and Kittler knew that he 
had suggested a new train of thought to the priest's agile 
mind. "You know, I think you got something. So well fix it 
so they won't have to. Here, take this down: Visit your local 
Catholic chaplain. Offer him your aid to make the Mission a 
success. Find out the best time for you to receive Holy Com- 

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Father Cyclone 

munionin the morning, if you fast from midnight; in the 
afternoon, if you fast four hours from solid food and one 
hour from nonalcoholic liquid" 

The priest's eyes were bright as he studied his assistant. 
When Kittler looked up, he grinned again. "That do it?" 

"What do you want me to do with it?" Kittler asked him. 

"Get it printed. Have it plastered on every available spot 
on every post. Give a thing enough publicity, and the mob 
will flock around." 

"Even with all the publicity we've already given it, the 
cathedral's still a pretty big place, Father," he said, voicing 
the thought which had been in his mind for some days. 

Lynch laughed. "Five will get you ten that when I say the 
opening prayer of the Mission, St. Joseph's Cathedral will be 
packed to the doors." He searched his pocket, placing a dime 
triumphantly on the desk. 

Kittler put a nickel beside it. "You got a bet, Father. And I 
hope you win," he added, his tone doubtful. 

Neither of them could know then that Father Lynch 
would not be there when the opening prayer of the Mission 
was said. 



139 



CHAPTER NINE 



Glenn Kittler left the office immediately after mess on the 
night of April seventeenth to make final preparations at the 
cathedral and to be there in case any of the men arrived 
early. He did not know, therefore, of the call that came for 
Father Lynch a few minutes later. 

He was busy distributing missals, booklets of prayers, and 
programs of the Mission and was not aware that the priest 
had not arrived. He was surprised at the turnout of men and 
too busy to notice the absence of his superior. 

It was a steamy hot evening, and men sat close together 
inside the cathedral, sweating. It was not fair to keep them 
waiting. Kittler, suddenly aware of the time, asked Father 
Francis J. Bottler, an army chaplain, to open the Mission. 
Father Edwin Paulmann, of the Navy, was programmed to 
preach that night, so apart from the opening, it really didn't 
matter that Lynch was absent. 

Except to Kittler. The irony of it did not occur to him. 
Nothing mattered but his anger at the priest for "pulling a 

140 



Father Cyclone 

disappearance" at such a time, It was his show; lie should 
have been there. There was no excuse for his absence* 

Hours later, lying on his cot, his head aching with ex- 
haustion, he tried to rationalize it, to analyze Lynch the 
man. He wondered why he stuck around when he wanted 
so much to be transferred; he asked himself all the million 
questions which plagued him and which he never could get 
around to asking Lynch. 

Sleep began to enfold him, relaxing his tired muscles, re- 
leasing him from the tensions of conflicting emotions. He 
was not aware that his door had opened; the sudden switch- 
ing on of the light made him blink. "What the hell/* he mut- 
teredand recognized his visitor. 

He raised himself on his elbow, but made no move to get 
up. "What happened to you?" he demanded, wholly uncon- 
scious of his tone* 

"I've been A.W.O.L.," Lynch said, trying to grin. 

Now that the light no longer made him blink, Kittler 
thought the priest looked tired, drawn; there were lines 
around his eyes Kittler had never noticed before. "How'd it 
go, Glenn?" Lynch spoke with deep concern, though he tried 
to make it sound flip. "Come on, Champ. Give. Let's hear it 
all/' 

The impulse to jeer was almost irresistible. Kittler wanted 
to taunt the priest, keep him in suspense, jeer at him because 
despite his absence the Mission got along. Instead, he sat 
up and gave a succinct report of the evening's work. 

Father Lynch sat on the shack's one camp chair, slumped 
down, legs stretched out before him, the tired lines around 
his eyes deeper. At last he spoke: 

141 



Father Cyclone 

"Just like an actor missing his cue on opening night," he 
said wryly. Kittler said nothing, waiting. Lynch never ex- 
plained, never told him where he had been when he dis- 
appeared on one of his mysterious errands. Would this be an 
exception? 

"A troopship was shoving off for combat duty," Lynch 
said, studying the tips of his shoes. "The men sent word to 
Klein asking him to get me. I went out there to hear confes- 
sions and to say Mass. You should have seen me! Right smack 
in the middle of Mass, I felt the rumble of engines under me 
and then the ship quivered. It was the most extraordinary 
sensation I've ever had in my life!" 

He looked up at Kittler and shook his head. "Of course, 
with every Catholic man on board receiving Communion, it 
wasn't until over an hour later that I got up on deck. And 
there was Noumea slipping away in the background! Talk 
about being A.W.O.L.!" 

"Whafd you do?" Kittler betrayed his own intense in- 
terest. 

Lynch shrugged. "What could I do? It was another hour 
before we passed the lighthouse where the pilot was to leave 
the ship. I had to climb down one of those snaky three-inch 
things the Navy calls ladders into a swaying, bumping tea- 
cup of a pilot boat. And what a sea! Queer how smooth it 
looks from high up. Believe me, it was rugged. Three hours 
in a teacup in that sea ... brother, I'll take vanilla." He 
shook his head and grinned. 

"Know what it made me think of? When I was ten, I got 
smart; bit of a show-off I was. Made myself a pair of skis out 
of the staves of a barrel, and tried 'em out on one of the hills 

142 



Father Cyclone 

near home. Before I started, it was swell: everybody telling 
me how fearless I was. I made it with a couple of broken 
bones, but man alive, was I scared! Wonder what makes a 
man want to be a pilot?" 

He sighed deeply again, stood up slowly, looking down at 
his assistant. 

"Thanks, Glenn." And he was gone. 

Curiously, Kittler wasn't sleepy any more and he wasn't 
tired. He finished his cigarette, stared at the closed door, 
pulled out the light, and was instantly asleep. 



There could be no question of the success of the Mission. 
Every service was packed, and every priest who participated 
gave tribute to the fine organization and preparation which 
went into it. They worked hard: Lynch's ambitious plan to 
have four priests hear confessions every night had to be 
changed to every available priest every night, with even 
Father Noblet taking a turn. The money which found its 
way into the box placed near the door was more than the 
cathedral had gotten in the last three years. 

Lynch had arranged to tave the final Mass and Candle- 
light Benediction at the same time, and it was the crowning 
glory of the Mission. Men crammed into every corner of the 
cathedral, overflowing down the steps, onto the lawn and 
even down to the brink of the hill. As far as the eye could 
see, the night was lighted by flickering candles. 

Two bishops were there to preside: Bishop Brisson of New 

143 



Father Cyclone 

Caledonia and Bishop Wade of Noumea. No man missed a 
word of what was said because Lynch had ordered Kittler 
to have the Signal Corps set up a public address system. 

When it was over, Glenn Kittler felt limp with exhaus- 
tion, but his job was far from complete. The cathedral had 
to be thoroughly cleaned and nothing was more repugnant 
to him. Pamphlets, missals, hymn cards had to be gathered, 
bundled, and returned to the office, and he suspected if he 
delayed too long, the jeep would not be waiting back of the 
sacristy where Lynch usually parked it. At best, he would 
have objected to the long hike back to camp, but in the 
pelting rain which began as the service ended, it was out of 
the question. 

Arms loaded, Kittler arrived at the parking place in time 
to see the taillight vanish around the twisting turn at the 
hilltop. Hurrying back through the cathedral, he hoped 
against hope to catch a ride back, but the slope was empty. 

Kittler dropped his bundle, expressing in a low tone, but 
in eloquent language, his opinion of Lynch and the whole 
business. As his slow-burning anger reached its peak, he 
jammed his helmet down, hitched up the cuffs of his trousers, 
and picked up the bundle. He stumbled down the hill, and 
this time he knew he was through. Nothing Lynch could say 
now would make any difference. 

A jeep coughed as it swung around the sharp curve and 
came to a stop beside him. Father Barge of the 6th Naval 
Construction Battalion leaned over. "Hop in, Glenn/' 

Kittler threw his bundle under the seat and climbed in, 
muttering, "Thanks, Father." 

"Don't thank me/' Father Barge said. "Brooklyn sent me 

144 



Father Cyclone 

back for you/' They drove in silence for some minutes, and 
as if the priest sensed Kittler's antagonism, he said gently: 
"You know, Glenn, it was the Apostles who did the dirty 
work for Jesus Christ. I mean stuff like rustling the food, 
sleeping quarters; all the chores of living. He was always too 
busy teaching and preaching to remember things like that" 

"Lynch isn't Jesus Christ," Kittler snapped. 

"Right," Barge said, then chuckled. "He's quite a guy. He 
drove you like a slave, but he drove us all! And youVe got to 
admit he drove himself harder than anybody. When a man's 
got a fire burning inside him, there's not much anybody can 
do about it." 

"That's not to say he's got to burn up the rest of the 
world," Kittler came back. 

"You just don't understand Larry. He's so fiendishly hungry 
for souls! If he thinks he can work his way inside a man, 
win him back to God, so far as Larry is concerned, almost 
anything goes." 

"Don't try explaining him to me, Father. I work with him" 
Bitterness put a rasp into Kittler's voice. "There's a lot of 
good chaplains in this man's Army; they don't charge about 
like a tornado. They're not God! I hate that man!" he flung 
out, then added apologetically: "I'm sorry, Father." 

"Don't be," Father Barge said. "You U feel better for get- 
ting it out of your system. But remember that's the kind of 
man Lynch is. You either hate him or you love him." 

"Maybe. There's a lot of guys think he's God's little 
brother, but so far as I'm concerned . . ." 

"Even when you're hating him most," Barge interrupted 
as if Kittler had not spoken, "you can't help loving the guy. 

145 



Father Cyclone 

You mark my words, one of these days you'll come to know 
him and when you do, I'll bet youll almost idolize him. And 
remember I told you." 

Kittler's laugh was harsh. "Yeah! I wouldn't wait, Father/' 

"Right," Father Barge nodded. "But remember wKat I 
said. Meantime, you couldn't fix it to get transferred to the 
Navy, could you?" 

This time, the laugh was genuine. "Thanks, Father. I ap- 
preciate that." 

Tm not kidding," Barge echoed the laugh. "You tell 
Brooklyn if he doesn't behave, 111 fix it to get you trans- 
ferred as my assistant regardless of your army unif orml" 



Kittler went to the office, deposited his collection of left- 
over material, and was about to head for his own shack 
when a note in Lynch's handwriting caught his eye. It was 
pinned to a letter the priest had scrawled, and it said: "Have 
the attached mimeoed for distribution to the boys." 

He read the letter: 

In the South Pacific 
Mothers Day, 1944 
Dear Mom: 

This should reach you in time for Mother's Day. The 
rest of this book shows you what I've been doing lately. 
This picture shows you where you can find me on Mother's 
Day. Again, as I do every day, I'm going to thank God for 
that swell Mother He gave me. May He help me always to 

146 



Father Cyclone 

remain as good as you think me to be and 111 ask the won- 
derful Mother of God to keep an eye on you and empty 
heaven of its best blessings for you because only the best 
for the best and my best is you. 

With love, always yours, 

Kittler flung it back to the desk in disgust More grand- 
standing. It was too much. 

His wet clothes were sticking to him; he had gotten soaked 
again when he collected the bundles from under the seat 
of the jeep. He was hungry but too tired to go to the cook- 
shack for food. Back in his own quarters, he had removed 
one soggy boot before he realized that he had no cigarettes. 

He scoured the room, hunting for a butt. Unsuccessful, he 
weighed the relative values of a trip to the cookshack to 
scrounge food and smokes as against bed and decided am 
the latter. 

He sat on his chair, took off the second boot and fired it at 
the door. As it landed, he spied a half-burned cigarette 
stump, leaned down to get it and was bumped on the head 
by the door which opened at that moment. A kick failed to 
shut it. Wearily he got upand looked directly into the 
amused eyes of Father Lawrence Lynch. 

"Hi-ya, Champ. Mind if I come in a minute?" The priest 
moved to Kittler's cot and threw himself full length on it. 

Kittler's look reflected his thoughts, but he said: "No, sir. 
So long as you don't mind if I go on stripping." He turned 
his back and peeled his shirt. 

"You're pretty fed up with me, aren't you?" Kittler ignored 
the question, determined not to become involved in a row 
with Lynch this night. 

147 



Father Cyclone 

While Kittier continued to remove his wet clothing, the 
priest lay prone, hands under his head, staring at the ceil- 
ing, At last he chuckled softly. "Getting set to quit me 
again? 30 

Kittler had an almost irresistible impulse to hit the chap- 
lain, and had Lynch been standing, he might have done so. 
Instead, he glared down at this man who had tormented him 
for months, hating Lynch as he would not have believed it 
possible for him to hate any man. It had ceased to be a 
matter of transfer now. He wanted to hurt Lynch, use phys- 
ical force, land a solid one on that insouciant grin. 

As if he could read Kittler's mind, Lynch got up, moved 
swiftly and stood before him, his square ruggedness some- 
how discounting the difference in their height. His hands 
were on Kittler's shoulders, gripping them hard, but his voice 
was almost a whisper. 

"YouVe had a rough week, Champ. I want you to know 
how much I appreciate all you've done. But I know you 
didn't do it for me. You did it for God. Always do everything 
for God, Glenn. You can't go wrong that way. Always keep 
Him right there, beside you. Let's work together, you and I, 
for God. And be patient with me." He stopped, waited, felt 
the tension in Kittler's shoulder begin to ease, and smiled 
gently. "Maybe someday you'll understand the kind of dope 
I am. But meantime, we're pals, aren't we?" 

Glenn Kittler was determined not to be won over. He 
would not permit himself to be taken in by this new act. He 
refused to let Lynch get under his skin with a few soft 
words; yet, unwillingly, he felt the tautness leave his body, 
felt himself relaxing. He breathed deeply. 

148 



Father Cyclone 

Lynch nodded, dropped his hands. "God bless you, Glenn, 
and may His Blessed Mother watch over you always and 
keep you happy/* 

He went as silently as he had come, leaving Kittler 
strangely released, yet somehow bewildered. It was some 
minutes before he saw the can of beer, the paper-wrapped 
sandwich, and underneath the sandwich, a package of ciga- 
rettes. 

He shook his head, punctured the can on a nail and began 
munching, wishing he could understand the man who had 
brought them, wishing he could reconcile his distrust of 
Lynch and Lynches motives with the man's extraordinary 
changes of character. 



The next morning, he scanned the dummy of a booklet 
the priest had asked him to look over. 

"There's enough stuff here for a thirty-page book, Father. 
If you expect the guys to send this home as a souvenir, aren't 
you forgetting the cost plus postage?" 

"I figured it'd run to thirty-two," Lynch nodded. "On the 
front outside cover, a picture of the outside of the Cathedral 
this one. On the back, what about this with all the fellows 
kneeling inside. It's a grand picture." 

"But the cost," Kittler began, then thought of something 
else. "Besides you can't mimeo pictures/' 

"I wasn't planning to. I thought of using microfilm.* 

149 



Father Cyclone 

"What a hope! You've gotta have top priority . . ." 

The priest nodded, grinned. "Uh4iuh. But I got an angle. 
We'll use some copies of the letters to the men . . ." 

"Where's that going?" Kittler asked, pointing to the Moth- 
er's Day message. 

"Right smack in the center. And opposite it, this picture 
taken during Mass. That will give both a real meaning, sort 
of a personal letter each guy can sign and send home to 
his . , ." He stopped, eyes narrowed, as he watched Kit- 
tier's face. The picture showed Lynch as celebrant, standing 
before the altar in that most solemn moment in the Mass 
when he had raised the Chalice for the adoration of the 
faithful, with Kittler and the other two men who had as- 
sisted at that Mass kneeling behind him. 

"Bet a nickel 1 know what you're thinking," Lynch 
grinned, and Kittler had the grace to blush. 

"I don't know what you mean, Father," he said. 

"Why won't you ever be honest with me? You're saying 
to yourself, "Here it is; more self-glorification/ Right?" He 
waited and Kittler nodded dumbly* "Good. Now we're being 
honest. But aren't you forgetting one thing? I'm sending 
one of those booklets to my Mom, too." He cocked his head. 
"Maybe when you meet her you'll understand. I think you'll 
love her, too. You'll love the white kitchen with its window 
overlooking the bit of a yard where she insisted on growing 
flowers. 2 ' 

A glow of reminiscence came into his eyes. "Once she 
said something about them, and I wrote a poem about it 
and sent it to a magazine. I was a seminarian then, and 
thought I was pretty good! I wrote: 

150 



Father Cyclone 

My tulips and hyacinths are all in full bloom 
They are beautiful this year a riot of color 
They stand in all their beauty like so many chalices, 
Offering to our Blessed Mother their perfume of love. 
I call them my children because they grow 
Where you all used to play a few years ago. 

He sighed deeply. "She was happier about that ten-dollar 
check than if I'd sent her a million dollars." 

For some moments Lynch, sat still, his eyes dreamy, look- 
ing back into the past. "Shell appreciate that booklet, Glenn. 
Shell know why it was prepared, and why that picture went 
into it. And youll understand too/* He looked directly at his 
assistant. "Will you promise me something, Glenn? Will you 
go and see her when you get back?" His smile was oddly 
young and somehow sad. "You can tell her you didn't quite 
approve of her Lala, and shell probably laugh because shell 
understand. Shell understand about that letter too." 

Kittler had heard Lynch extract the same promise from 
hundreds of menheard it and had always been suspicious 
of it yet when he was himself asked to promise, he could 
only nod. This new Lynch was someone he was unsure of, 
someone he was afraid of, if the truth were told. He felt 
shaken^ 

As if he regretted having exposed himself to Kittler, 
Lynch spoke sharply now. "It doesn't seem to occur to you 
that a chaplain's family has as much right as any other sol- 
dier's to know whafs been happening to him and what he's 
doing. Now, the main job will be narrowing it down-4his 
lesson on prayer by Father Bottler is a must. And Father 
Marshall's piece." 

151 



Father Cyclone 

The shift was fast, even for Lynch, but Kittler was grate- 
ful for it. 'What about this one by Father Schenkel?" he 
asked. 

"Yes. Oh, and I want Father Barnett's 'Design for Liv- 
ing.' And the daily program besides some letters, and plenty 
of pictures. That . . " 

He stopped as the telephone rang. Kittler answered it 
with his stock phase, "Chaplain's Office, Kittler speaking," 
listened, and handed the instrument to Lynch. "Moscowitz. 
He sounds scared/* 

Father Lynch wasted no time in preliminaries. "What 
gives, Texr 

Kittler could hear the rasp of the lieutenant* s voice 
through the instrument. "Sorry to trouble you, Father, but 
this is an S. O. S." 

*TH be right over," Lynch said, replacing the instrument 
at once and pushing back his chair. "If you want me, 
Champ, at least this time you'll know where to find me, for 
a little while!" 

Kittler felt his face get hot again. Lynch had an uncanny 
way of reading his mind. He wondered what had happened 
to upset the usually calm Moscowitz. 



152 



CHAPTER TEN 



Lt. Alvin Moscowitz was frankly worried. His hair, usu- 
ally neat, was ruffled by restless fingers; his eyes had heavy 
circles under them, and his face was drawn and tense. 

Last night's freak accident, resulting in Fred Hunt's death, 
had nothing to do with the case against Sam Laney, but Mos- 
cowitz suspected it would somehow militate against his 
client. Fred's death had upset him horribly; he had known 
and liked the boy, and somehow Fred and Sam had become 
so much one, he couldn't think straight about either. 

He studied the pictures and maps which told so plainly 
the part of the story Morton hadn't been able to tell. Fred 
and Morton had been traveling the Bouleupari Road, en 
route to Finger Pier No. 2, each driving a truck loaded with 
ammunition. Bouleupari "The Nightmare" road. Its narrow, 
twisting, mountain slopes were lined with treacherous turns 
and flanked by steep cliffs which, in places, dropped off into 
nothingness; its steep banks and rocky terrain were laced 

153 



Father Cyclone 

with bumps and holes. It was dangerous in good weather, 
suicidal on a night heavy with fog, rain and storm as last 
night had been. 

Morton, in the lead truck with a defective windshield 
wiper, switched positions with Fred's truck in order to use 
the latter's taillights as a guide, he said. He was to blink 
his headlights if he had any difficulty following. When he 
did, Fred stopped and leaned out of the open door of his 
truck to see what was wrong. Fred had forgotten that he 
was on the crest of a hill, and he was off balance when his 
truck started down. He tried to reach the brake, but the truck 
hit a bump and swerved, throwing him down into the ravine. 

What a lousy, filthy way to fight a war! When you got 
into the service, it was to fight Japs; the only Japs he'd ever 
seen were the PW's on Paita. Klein would throw the book 
at Sam Laney just because there had been a series of acci- 
dents. As if Sam had anything to do with Fred Hunt's death! 
There was no parallel between the two accidents. 

He had to put Fred out of his mind. He knew he must 
concentrate on Sam and Sam's defense, but frustration cut 
deep within him, and right now, he hated everything about 
the Army, his job, this war, and particularly New Caledonia. 
He looked up when the door opened. 

Father Lynch stood watching him. The chaplain's ap- 
pearance had an extraordinary effect on Moscowitz, who 
rose automatically, unaware of the stiffness in his move- 
ment and the tenseness in his whole bearing. 

"Thanks for coming, Father," Moscowitz said. "I ... Tm 
sorry I had to bother you, but this business about Sam Laney 
. . . For the love of God, Father, why in hell should a kid 

154 



Father Cyclone 

like Fred get it like that? Dammit . . ." he stopped, embar- 
rassed. "Excuse me/* 

"That's all right, Tex/' Lynch said. "Relax, son. And be- 
fore we start scolding God, and arguing with Him about 
what He thinks is best for us let's get on with Sam Laney. 
He's the fellow you're defending in the court-martial? 
What's the charge?" 

"Intoxication. Last week he cracked up a truck while driv- 
ing under the influence of liquor/' He inhaled deeply. 

Lynch raised his eyebrows. 

"Last night's was the third crack-up in two weeks, Father. 
Morton wasn't drunk. He was not to blame for the acci- 
dent. It wasn't his fault his windshield wiper went on the 
fritz. But Morton had had a couple of beers and Fred Hunt 
was killed. Klein is sore as hell. He's got to make an exam- 
pleand I'm afraid Sam Laney may be it.* 

Lynch stood there, digesting it At last he nodded. "Okay, 
So let's go see Klein before he makes it official." 

"The damn shame," Moscowitz said, "is Sam's a lot like 
Fred a right guy. He's never been in trouble before. He ... 
Fred would do something about it if he could. He wouldn't 
want his death to ... Sam was slated for OCS, but with this 
on his record 

Lynch gripped the younger man's shoulder briefly. "I be- 
gin to understand why you've got to get Sam off. And I 
think Fred will understand too. Come on. If we tackle Klein 
together, we can't lose. Let's roll." 



155 



Father Cyclone 



Lt Col. Julius Klein glared from the lieutenant to the 
chaplain and shook his head emphatically. "The answer is 
still no" he said, crisp and hard. Til have no more drink- 
ing in this outfit" 

"You think breaking a decent kid will stop intoxication?" 
Lynch demanded. "Every man's entitled to one mistake, 
and you know this is the first" 

"He should have thought of that before he got drunk/* 
Klein snapped. "They all worry about their record when 
it's too late. I'm going to show this outfit I mean business, 
and that's all there is to it." 

"But, sir," Moscowitz finally got in, "Laney is good officer 
material. You said so yourself, and if you sentence him, this 
will kill his chances." 

"He should have thought of that too," Klein said. 

"Look here, Colonel Julius," Lynch leaned over the desk, 
his eyes intent on the man behind it. "You want to sentence 
Laney. All right. You do it." 

Moscowitz looked worried; Klein was surprised into an 
involuntary: "What?" 

Lynch nodded slowly. "That's right. You sentence Laney 
... to DCS!" 

Klein's mouth fell open. "You think I'm a fool, Father? A 
man is guilty of intoxication, cracks up a truck, and you 
suggest I forget the charges and promote him?" 

"It's because I know you're no fool that I make the sug- 

156 



Father Cyclone 

gestion. You're too smart a soldier to waste good material 
just to prove a point. You know Laney is good; a good sol- 
dier with the makings of a good officer. And look at the 
credit you'll get for having picked him!" With one of his 
lightning changes, he laughed. Both men stared at him in 
surprise. "What a melodrama! Something for the books, Colo- 
nel Julius. A Catholic priest and a Jewish lawyer battling a 
Jewish C.O. to make a Protestant soldier an officer! You gotta 
admit that leaves no room for argument." 

Unwillingly, Klein nodded. "I guess I know when I'm 
licked," he said. "Take your Protestant and send him to OCS. 
But I promise you that if I ever hear he's so much as had 
a beer so's anybody could notice it on himTil see he gets 
everything the law allows." 

"You got a deal," Lynch said, with a sly wink at Mosco- 
witz. "What's more, 111 lay you odds ten to five Laney be- 
comes one of the best officers in the whole H.Q. Service 
Command." 

"Dollars, Rabbi?" 

"Nickel and dime, of course," Lynch grinned, putting his 
dime down. 

"You got a bet!" Klein said, adding his nickel to it. 

A year later, when Lt. Samuel Laney was invalided home 
with a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross 
with Cluster, Lt. Col. Klein wished he could pay Father 
Lynch that small bet. 



157 



Father Cyclone 



Glenn Kittler felt that he was beginning to know Father 
Lawrence Lynch better than his own mother knew him; yet 
not a day passed but Lynch could surprise him out of this 
certainty, and frequently infuriate him by throwing his pre- 
conceived notions into chaos. 

He watched the priest closely in his dealings with the 
men who were lucky enough to catch up with him in the 
office, hoping to find a weakness he could use to advantage. 
Against his will, he was forced to admit that his superior 
was a brilliant man, and even when Kittler was irritated 
almost beyond endurance, he felt a grudging admiration for 
the majesty of the man's mind. 

Lynch never seemed to sleep. Often, late at night when 
Kittler returned from visits to town, he could see the chap- 
lain in his own shack the curtain pulled back for every 
breath of air poring over a thick volume and writing furi- 
ously on the note pad beside him. He came to know that 
Lynch was intimately familiar with the sciences, music, art, 
literature and politics; he had studied pharmacology as a 
hobby; he could discuss any subject expertly, and he was 
never without an opinion. What was even more irritating 
was the fact that he had never, so far as Kittler knew, been 
proven wrong. 

But to the average soldier, sailor, marine, he was still 
Brooklyn, the rambunctious, sensational, unpredictable, al- 

158 



Father Cyclone 

ways good for a laugh, always a "right guy" to his assistant, 
he was always a grandstander. 

No wonder then that when Lynch began planning for a 
giant Memorial Day service which was to be participated in 
by all faiths, all ranks, all chaplains in the Island Command, 
Kittler had his own Ideas as to the reason for it. When Lynch 
ordered him to get permission to have it plugged over the 
Island Command's "mosquito network/' he was sure that he 
was right And when he designated the amphitheater, which 
he had used for that first Christmas Eve Mass, as the site for 
the service, Kittler's mouth became grim; he went about the 
job of making preparations with passive resistance, expend- 
ing no effort that was not absolutely necessary. 

If Father Lynch noticed it, he gave no sign. On Memorial 
Day, Kittler found a list of instructions neatly tabulated on 
his desk: the raised platform was to be draped with bunt- 
ingno suggestion of where it was to come from; chairs and 
a small table; a flag draped at half-staff; seating arrange- 
ments for speakers and chaplains. Lynch was going to "put 
on a show/' but it was Glenn Kittler who had to set the 
stage. 

Afterwards, Kittler had to admit it was impressive. Every 
chaplain in the Command was there: Catholic, Protestant, 
Jew. Army, Navy, Coast Guard every branch of the armed 
services was represented. And long before the combined 
band opened the ceremony with the national anthem, every 
inch of space within the amphitheater was packed, with 
men squatting along the dirt "aisles/* on stones, on the 
ground beyond the arena, grateful for the amplifiers which 
helped them hear what they could not see* 

159 



Father Cyclone 

Just before the gun salute and taps, Father Lynch as if 
by unanimous consentsaid the closing prayer, one he had 
written himself. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Soldier, Defender, Savior, Victor God 
Who fought this warfare we call life, and died once to con- 
quer death, and made the endless, undying Victory of Your 
Resurrection a guarantee of our own eternal life, today we 
pray to You for our dear heroic dead to lead them unto life 
without end with You. 

Christ Who walked upon the wild green waters, reach 
Your hand of mercy down to rescue those who went down 
to the sea in ships and walked the ocean's floor in sub- 
marines. 

Sailor Jesus Whom Peter waked from sleep upon the deep 
to calm a fearful deathly tempest, wake all our brothers 
who drank death below the angry brine. 

Lord God of Hosts of Heaven and the armies of earth, 
call home from the silent mounds of little tombs the men 
who sleep beneath a foreign soil; the men who tilled the 
laughing green fields of America. 

Nail-pierced hands, shake those strong hands that held the 
gleaming blades of plows nosed into the many silver-rainy 
springs to overturn our native land for planting whistling 
wheat and golden corn. 

Nail-daggered feet of Jesus, lead the shoeless, frozen, 
broken, wounded feet of men who walked behind the mule 
and stepped upon the tractor's treadle down countless scarlet- 
ribboned rows of springtime cotton fields. 

Back of God bowed under the burden of Your Cross, brace 
the cracked backs of mortar teams and pack men, the backs 
used to bear crates and sacks and bales of food and fuel of 
America. 

Wounded Savior, be Samaritan and sooth the sore and 

160 



Father Cyclone 

painful gashes gushing bright young blood like mouths that 
cry for sympathy. 

Scourged Jesus, make whole and well the bodies of our 
buddies whipped and scourged by swiftly searing shrapnel. 

Thorn-crowned Captain, disentangle doughboys ensnared 
in webs o pain on barbed-wire fences. 

Christ of the Garden of Gethsemane, O lonely, blood- 
sweating, agonizing Son of God, beneath the heartless trees 
and sniped at with a stinging kiss from a betrayer., lend aid 
and sympathy to our marines and scouts and reconnoiterers 
squirming in steaming, stinking, serpented death in some lost 
tropic hell. 

Dying Saviour, at Whose death the very earth quaked and 
the thunder exploded to wake dead men from age-old tombs 
while live men cried for very Me, save from mangled shrap- 
nel-splattered tank or truck or shattered engine room the 
scattered bleaching bones and bid them vest in flesh to have 
the body live again refreshed after death's little sleep and 
have that body go to meet and greet the soul and come with 
You to Your triumphant Resurrection. 

Dead Jesus, from the foxhole of Your sepulchre, walk the 
battlefields, and roll away the walls of earth upon new 
tombs, and call from nameless, crossless and forgotten graves, 
machine gunners and miners and artillerymen. 

Jesus, Judge of the living and the dead, Who will come 
again upon the glorious clouds of Heaven, bring back 
to the hangars of Heaven all Your human angels who, in 
planes, plummeted through time and space and crashed into 
eternity. 

Last but not least, welcome home Your other Christs, Your 
chaplains whose only weapon was the brave cross on their 
collars, who were sped into eternity to meet The Christ as 
they stooped to give You to wounded men at death, 

Jesus, Man and God, You are our resurrection and our 
way and our life. Hear our prayers for the dead and give 

161 



Father Cyclone 

them all eternal rest, and someday, soon or late, we most 
surely will follow them; so for ourselves we beg the strength 
and grace of preparation for a happy death after these few 
years of life and liberty they saved for us, all united at home, 
in the land of our eternal freedom with You and the Father 
and the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen. 



Kittler, standing on the rim of the arena, watching men 
moving silently away, was amazed at their thinking faces, 
the quiet decorum of their exit. He would have denied ve- 
hemently that Lynch's prayer had moved him, yet he knew 
that so long as he lived he would never forget the firm, ring- 
ing voice with all the overtones and undertones of a great 
actor, that made every sentence come alive. 

And like the great actor he was, Lynch avoided the anti- 
climax. He disappeared with the last note of taps, once 
more leaving Kittler to get back to the office as best he 
could. 

It didn't help that Frank Fogarty stuck around at Lynch's 
request, he later learned to give him a hand or that the sup- 
ply truck from the 42nd mess, with McCarthy at the wheel, 
was there to take him back to the office. 

Some of the "brass" wanted Lynch, to tell him what they 
thought of the service, but Lynch wasn't around. Worse, 
Kittler had no idea where he had gone or when he would 
return, and knowing Lynch's closemouthed method of opera- 
tion, Battler guessed that it would be some time before he 
saw his superior. 

162 



Father Cyclone 

As a matter of fact, it was not until next morning that he 
did see him, and that was at Mass where he had no chance 
to talk to him. He was resigned to a certain extent; he ac- 
cepted Lynda's vagaries knowing he could do nothing about 
them. But while his sense of frustration was not diminished 
by his acceptance, there was one thing he was determined 
not to do. He had heard Lynch say many times that "an 
angry man or one who laughs is vulnerable because his 
defenses are down"; Glenn Kittler was determined Lynch 
would never catch him angry again. No matter what the 
chaplain did, no matter what harebrained scheme he came 
up with next, he Kittler would take it in his stride. 

All the same, when he returned from mess to find sheets 
of foolscap with Lynch's scrawl on them and a note tagged 
to them reading: "Make four copies, please. We're on the 
airl" he was furiously angry. 

He read it through. It started with a brief commentary 
explaining that this was to be the Catholic Hour on the 
Noumea mosquito network, and as a starter, the rosary 
seemed a good subject to talk about. 

"The rosary is the most human and divine of prayers. It 
is human because anyone can say it. We clasp the crucifix 
which has been blessed. We kiss it as a token of reverence 
for a grand service done us by our Big Brother Who is God. 
We say the Our Father on each large bead, then let our 
thumb and forefinger count off each smaller bead as we 
recite each Hail Mary. 

"After ten of these, we bow our head and salute the 
Trinity: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the 

163 



Father Cyclone 

Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever 
shall be, world without end. Amen. 

"We meditate on the sorrowful events in the life of Christ, 
the solid, serious business of God being scourged and 
crowned with thorns, losing His friends and being betrayed 
and turned over to death and buried in a stranger's grave. 

"We sympathize with Mary, holding the dead body of her 
Jesus on her lap and begging our Mother of Sorrows to 
soothe the empty hearts of other mothers and hands robbed 
of the little consolation of holding their shattered sons in 
their arms even if only to wash them for the burial. 

"The rosary is the Bible in the mind; it is the Bible by 
heart as well as . . /' 

He stopped, looked up to find Father Lynch watching 
him, a quizzical expression in his eyes, 

"They want it by three o'clock," Lynch said. "It's got to 
be censored." A strange elation crept into his tone. "Well 
wow them! We'll make it the best radio show on the 
island . . , " He stopped, his tone changed. "All right, 
Champ. Let's have it. What's the gripe this time?" 

Kittler shook his head; he wouldnt let Lynch bait him. 
"An angry man is vulnerable!' He would not permit himself 
to be angry. But he heard his own voice: "A lot of the guys 
think you're a publicity hound already. So now you're prov- 
ing it!" 

"Sure I am, Champ. Any priest worth his salt knows the 
value of publicity. He must be kept in the public eye. He's 
got to make people realize he's human too. This . . . why, 
this chance is too good to pass up. We'll be the sensation 
of the South Pacific. We'll put Tokyo Rose out of business 

164 



Father Cyclone 

you wait and see. The whole island will sit up and take no- 
tice, and what's more, we'll publish each broadcast in the 
news. If I've got to be a publicity hound to reach just one 
guy who wouldn't otherwise come to me . . ." 

Kittler broke in with unexpected violence, "They know 
where to come when they're in a jam!'' 

"Is that bad?" Lynch asked. 

"No, but you don't need cheap publicity to . . ." Kittler 
stopped, aware suddenly that he was doing the very thing 
he had sworn he would not do. 

"The men must be made to understand that their chaplain 
is not much different from them," Lynch said patiently. 
"That he's a regular fellow who plays baseball and poker 
and pinochle. They must be made to feel their chapel is 
their hangout because their chaplain is human." 

"But this . . . this stunt is no way to do it!" 

"This is no stunt, Glenn." The priest's voice was hard 
now. "We've got a job to do, a big job. It's results count 
out here; not method." 

"And what about the ones you alienate? Don't they 
count?" 

Father Lynch looked at his assistant for a long minute. 
Then, unexpectedly, he smiled a warm, deep smile which 
lighted his face. His head lifted, his shoulders squared. 

"Our Lady will take care of them, Glenn. You see, she 
knows what I'm trying to do. Shell never let me down she 
never has." He was speaking of someone very close, very 
dear, someone on whom he leaned heavily. And almost im- 
mediately, with another of his swift changes, his tone be- 

165 



Father Cyclone 

came sharp: "Please make four copies at once/' He swung 
on Ms heel and was gone. 

Kittler began typing. Back in the recesses of his mind a 
new idea about this man who tormented him began to take 
shape, to grow. When it became a certainty, it was too late. 



166 



CHAPTER ELEVEN 



Throughout the long summer of 1944, Father Larry Lynch 
remained officially "unattached/' one of the chaplains of the 
Headquarters Service Command, yet somehow probably 
because the 42nd was closer to the chapel than most other 
units it was generally accepted that he was chaplain for 
the 42nd QM Battalion Mobile. 

The priest was a dynamo, knowing no exhaustion and 
needing no rest. With the help of seabees, and of course, 
Kittler, he rebuilt the whole chapel and, as he had prom- 
ised, himself painted a full set of stations of the cross for 
it. He built and discarded two altars before he was satis- 
fied with the third, permanent one in the chapel. Getting 
paint for the building was a problem, particularly since 
weather played havoc with it; yet Lynch got it, painted 
and repainted the building, and always with Kittler doing 
what he considered to be the lion's share of the work. 

Frequently, Lynch would start the job, leaving his assis- 
tant to finish it, over what seemed insurmountable obstacles. 

167 



Father Cyclone 

Supplies were difficult to secure due to shortages and pri- 
orities; helpers were rarely available at crucial moments. 
Yet, Lynch always got what he needed; and helpers jumped 
if he so much as whispered the need for them. 

And through it all, the Catholic Hour, a regular Sunday 
morning feature over the "mosquito network," was a source 
of worry and extra labor for Battler. No matter what else 
there was to do, the broadcast had to be prepared; Lynch 
insisted on careful files of everything he said and did, and 
each week, a reprint of the broadcast appeared in the island's 
"Daily News." 

Once, the original script of a broadcast disappeared one 
even Kittler conceded was among the best. It was "The Sol- 
dier Who Knifed God" and Lynch, the dramatist, used vivid, 
searing words to tell the story of St. Lionel, the Roman 
centurion who had stabbed the dying Christ and who fell 
to his knees afterwards with the historic words: "Truly this 
Man is the Son of God." 

Kittler offered to get a copy of it from Station AES, but 
Lynch demanded the original; he had corrected it in pencil, 
had made last-minute changes on it, had his timing on it, 
and he wanted it for his files. Kittler found it later in one 
of the books on Lynch's desk. 

The files were another source of worry to Kittler. Lynch 
insisted that copies of every letter to and from servicemen 
had to be carefully filed as well as all general notices, bul- 
letins, speeches, and copies of the daily news bulletin car- 
rying a schedule of all religious services. 

One day he asked Lynch: "What are you planning to do 
with aU this stuff, Father?" He was referring to an overflow 

168 



Father Cyclone 

of early material which had become a clutter in one corner. 
"You sure can't be figuring on shipping that back to the 
States?" 

"I'm figuring on just that/* Lynch said. 

"But there's tons of the stuff. You'll need a whole cargo 
vessel and most of it is just . . . just . . ." He choked back 
the word. 

"Junk?" Lynch said it for him. "That junk, Champ, is im- 
portant, at least to me." 

"Because you wrote it?" 

Lynch stared at his assistant a moment. "You'll never be- 
lieve my motives to be anything but self-glory, will you?" 

"It's none of my business," Kittler said, swallowing hard, 
a subtle elation behind it because he felt he had cracked 
the chaplain's defenses. 

"That is quite true," Lynch said. "But it doesn't explain 
anything, does it?" 

"Perhaps if you did explain occasionally . . /' 

"All right, Glenn. You've heard me talk about The Fam- 
ilyand mind you I use caps, see. One day you'll meet them: 
Matt and Phil and Lillie she was in the Waves but she's 
married to a commander in the submarine service now 
he's somewhere out here in the Pacific, and nobody, includ- 
ing Lillie, has any idea when or if they'll hear from him, 

"Ann was a policewoman before she married an army 
major, who is somewhere in North Africa where he's been 
for more than a year already. Tom's on a navy carrier, also 
out here in the Pacific, but all The Family knows of him 
is ... a San Francisco post office address. And Kitty . . . 
little, dainty Kitty is a nun austere Sister Mary Joseph 

169 



Father Cyclone 

who can't hide the impish twinkle in her eyes or her sense 
of humor, thank God. 

"Mary . . . Mary is taller than I am and though I'm the 
eldest, it was always Mary who had to fight my battles . . . 
I guess I was pretty soft at that. But Mary is somebody spe- 
cial. I send everything to Mary; she knows when is the 
right time to trot it out for Mom like the Mother's Day 
message I sent last year. I had it recorded." 

He was a different person now, a dreamy-eyed youngster, 
letting the man who did not understand him catch a glimpse 
of something he kept carefully guarded at all times. 

"I had one of the boys in the Signal Corps do it It wasn't 
much of a thing, but it meant a lot because Mary played 
it for Mom on Mother's Day ... I remember . . ." He 
stopped, lost in thought for a moment, and when he spoke 
again, his voice was vibrant, intimate, as he reread in his 
mind's eye the message he had sent home: 

Hello, Mom. Today is Mother's Day in 1943. First of all, 
Mom, thank you for being my mother. . . . You're a won- 
derful mother all right. No one could have a better mother 
than you. 

Maybe being this far away is a blessing. It makes us see 
how much we love you. No matter how busy and interest- 
ing our day or work may be, no matter how tired or sleepy 
our nights, you know that you are in my mind and in my 
heart all the twenty-four hours of every day* 

Mom, I love you. And because of you, I pride myself on 
being the best officer in the best army on earth. You gave 
me my life and I am here to learn as fast and as well as pos- 
sible the best way to defend and protect your life and my 
own. I am here because I believe in you. 

170 



Father Cyclone 

This little time away doesn't keep us away from each 
other, and I didn't leave you when I left home. You are 
always in my heart. . . . 

Don't worry about me. God bless you, Mom, for that won- 
derful mother He gave me. God give you all the wonderful 
things I want for you which only God can give you. 

When he stopped, he was lost in thought, and Klttler sat 
still, eyes stinging and a tightness in his throat. He wanted 
to say something, do something, but he didn't know what. 

Father Lynch stared out the window for nearly a full 
minute. When he looked at his assistant, a dark stain was 
on his cheeks, his voice was low and quiet. "Sorry, Glenn. 
I didn't mean to go soft on you." 

"I'm sorry, Father/' Glenn Kittler heard himself saying. 
"I didn't mean ... I ... what I meant was ... oh, hell!" 

"Exactly," the priest said and grinned. 

Kittler's knees felt stiff when he stood up. "Maybe we can 
get it on micro . . ." lie said. 

"Thanks," the priest answered. "If you can . . . well send 
the rolls to Mary. She'll know what to do with them." He 
got up quickly and the door slammed after him. 

The empty, silent room seemed cold to Glenn Kittler. Un- 
bidden, the words of Father Barge came to his mind: "Even 
when you're hating him most, you can't help loving the 
guy." And through them echoed Father Lynch's voice as it 
came each week over the radio in his signature: "God bless 
you always and Mary protect you." Suddenly the chill 
seemed to leave the room. 



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Father Cyclone 



The reorganization of the 523rd Quartermaster Group 
was completed and, inevitably, the 42nd QM Battalion Mo- 
bile was absorbed into it. 

Some weeks after its completion, Father Lawrence Lynch., 
now Chief of Chaplains for the Group, sat in the office of 
Col. Klein in Col. Klein's chair behind Col. Klein's desk. He 
watched the irate colonel pace restlessly to the door and 
back, the usual cigar clamped between his teeth. 

It was Lynch who broke the silence. "So I've been a bad 
boy again, Colonel Julius? What have I done this time?" 

"You give me trouble, Father Larry/' Klein's face was 
grave, but it took on a deeper hue as Lynch grinned and 
nodded. Klein continued with the accusation: "You've been 
to the leper colony at Ducos!" 

Lynch laughed outright. "Christopher Michael! So you 
finally heard about that Well, if you must know, IVe been 
going three times a week ever since I landed." 

Klein recoiled. "Dammit, man, don't you know that's out 
of bounds?'* 

"Not for doctors. And where doctors go, chaplains can go. 
And since you've brought up the subject, Colonel Julius, 
what about lending those poor devils our movies, after we've 
used them, of course." 

"Are you mad?" Klein spluttered. "Are you suggesting 
that we send . . ." 

"Oh, no/' Lynch cut in quickly. "Didn't I ever tell you? 

172 



Father Cyclone 

I'm a camera hound. I've been watching Hugh and I can 
handle that projector as easy as . . ." He stopped when he 
noticed the look in Klein's eyes. "Leprosy is infectious, not 
contagious. And I really haven't got it yet!" 

Klein was obviously annoyed that the priest had read his 
thoughts. "You listen to me, Father. There are no Catholics 
at Ducos. That takes it out of your province/* 

"You're wrong," Lynch leaned forward to interrupt* "A 
man with a working faith is a man close to God, and a man 
with any kind of faith who doesn't work at it has something 
wrong with him which it is my job to help him straighten 
out. If I can't make him into a good Catholic, I do the next 
best thing, which means make him a good Protestant or a 
good Jew." 

"I understand that/' Klein snapped. "Haven't I accepted 
you as Rabbi Lynch? But Ducos is out of bounds. You got 
no right to go there at all." 

"Maybe you're right. All the same . . . look, Colonel 
Julius. When I was a kid it wasn't easy for Mom, manag- 
ing with only Pop's salary as a fireman. There were a lot of 
us, and things were expensive; and right after the first 
World War the most expensive thing in the world seemed 
to be coal." 

"I can't see what that's got to do with Ducos," Klein 
snapped when Lynch paused for breath. 

"You will. Where we lived in Brooklyn then, it was still 
country. Back of us were bushes, and back of them an old 
shack. There was an old woman we called her the *goat 
woman' because she raised goats for milk she sold she lived 
in that shack . . ." he stopped to laugh. "Mom never could 

173 



Father Cyclone 

figure why her coal disappeared till Mary made me tell 
about stealing it for the goat woman. She trounced me but 
good. Afterwards, she kissed me." 

He stopped, his head cocked at the man who stood watch- 
ing him, then he grinned again. "Bet you a nickel you don't 
get the point/* 

"You lose/' Klein snapped. "So how long you been taking 
our films to Ducos?" 

Lynch put back his head and roared. "Only about three 
or four months," he said, when he could speak. 

"And this poker fund. A percentage of every game. Does 
that go to Ducos, too?" 

Lynch whistled. "You have been getting around. You know 
what? Sometimes it's a good idea for a C.O. not to know 
some things/' He wagged a finger at Klein. "Could be it 
might keep him out of a jam if he don't." 

"Sure. But could be it keeps him out of a game too, Rabbi. 
Or did you ever think of that?" 

Lynch grinned. "You got a date, Colonel Julius." 



Long before Christmas, 1944, the anniversary of Lynch's 
arrival on New Caledonia, word filtered through to the Port 
of Noumea of the amazing "island hopping" of American 
forces: Midway to Guadalcanal, down in the Solomon 
Islands, at almost the same time; Wake Island and New 
Guinea. Look at the map and take your pick. Where next? 

A forced lightness in the voice of Tokyo Rose, a new note 

174 



Father Cyclone 

of fear in her delivery as it came through the microphone. 
Impossible to figure, to guess where the next bloody land- 
ing might be. Makin? Impossible . . . and the Stars and 
Stripes floating proudly where the Rising Sun had flown on 
Makin. 

Saipan? It will never be attempted! No beachhead could 
break through the defense on Saipan, but the beachhead 
had become a conquest; another island jewel snatched from 
Nippon, another glowing record. 

Where next, Aceldama? The war lords in Tokyo studied 
the pin-pointed maps with worried frowns. 

Coupled with the record were whispered words of fear- 
ful losses. Young boys, aged by war, passed through Noumea 
on the way "Back" back to the United States and Home- 
in their eyes shadows of things beggaring description, but 
for all that, with heads proudly high. 

The Immortal 27th Division, crowned again with glory. 
Again it had weathered the inferno . . . Makin . . . the 
hell of Saipan. Bruised, battered, depleted the Immortal 
27th! 

And as word drifted back, other whispers of losses among 
those whose "only weapon was the brave cross on their col- 
lars," the insignia which was a symbol of peace . . . the 
tiny cross which for nearly two thousands years had been 
the sign of love, not the hate of war. 

Father Meaney, Chaplain of the 165th Infantry of the 
27th Division, wounded on Makin. 

Father McCabe, Chaplain of the 165th Infantry of the 
27th Division, wounded on Saipan. 

And the 165th Infantry ordered back for "rest and re- 

175 



Father Cyclone 

habilitation" . . . back but only as far as Espiritu Santo- 
minus a Catholic chaplain. 

In the All-Services Chapel on Noumea, built and rebuilt 
by Father Lawrence E. Lynch, the priest knelt in prayer. 
The confident assurance, the swagger, the impudence which 
had become familiar in every corner of New Caledonia . . . 
gone; in their stead, a great humility mingled with a great 
love in the words: 

"O Lady of Perpetual Helpby that name I beg you, help 
me to do the Will of my God and my Lord. Beloved Mother, 
show me the way to do the right thing. You know what I 
want, my Mother. Yet it is not my will, but the Will of your 
Beloved Son which must be obeyed. Teach me to obey, to 
say as He said: 'Thy Will be done, O God!' 

"But if it is His will . . . help me, O Mother of Perpetual 
Help. Show me what to do. Your Beloved Son can refuse 
you nothing. As you have never refused me, ask Him to 
look with favor on my prayer. I have done what I can here, 
my Mother. And there is so much to be done there! So many 
of your sons, speeding to eternity, with none to light the way. 
Ask Him to give me the grace to go to them ... to help 
them. Show me the way. It can be done, but only with Your 
help, Mother of Perpetual Help. Help me to do what I can 
, . for the greater glory of Your Beloved Son, my Lord 
Jesus Christ. Amen.'* 

The sun that had been hidden by clouds came out as the 
priest crossed himself, and a beam of sunlight found the 
bowed head of Father Lynch and rested on it as if in bene- 
diction. 



176 



Father Cyclone 



Father Lynch sat behind Col. Klein's desk, his shoulders 
hunched, as he watched Klein slump in a campstool. 

"I won't do it, Rabbi/' Klein insisted. "And you can't talk 
me into it. So that's final. Besides, what the hell gives you 
the idea that getting into the surplus pool will get you a 
transfer? And why the devil do you want a transfer any- 
how, just when you got things the way you want 'em?" 

"Could be that's the reason," Lynch said. 

"You listen to me." Klein bit savagely through his cigar. 
"No man such as you are could live on an island like this 
for a whole year without making enemies. You know what 
they'll say when they hear you're asking for a transfer, when 
they know you asked to be put into the surplus pool?" 

"Colonel Julius, the guys you call nay enemies are the 
ones I class as good joes; I'm not worried about them. It's 
only the ones who need God whom I can't afford to offend 
or have for an enemy. So the good joes will say I'm grand- 
standing, looking for self -glory." He laughed as he saw by 
Klein's face that those were the very words he had been 
thinking. "It doesn't much matter what they say or think, 
just so long as they can't say I've given scandal, or that I 
have lost one lad who needs my help in finding God." 

T[ can't argue with you, Rabbi Larry. Not on that score. 
But does it happen to occur to you that a transfer to the 
27th Division could defeat your own purpose?" 

177 



Father Cyclone 

Lynch's eyebrows raised and lie sat up straight. "I 
don't know what you mean/' he said. 

Klein used the cigar to punctuate. "The 27th lias just fin- 
ished two of the toughest assignments on record. Chances 
are they're out and for a very long time." 

"Give you odds, Colonel Julius, ten to one," Lynch said, 
smiling. 

"What on?" Klein asked. 

"On your "chances are' and on the certainty that the 27th 
will be right in there pitching, wherever and whenever the 
next one happens to be. And while you're at it, aren't you 
forgetting that you made me a promise?" 

"You can't hold me to that!" Klein snapped. "You made 
me promise before I knew it was a transfer you wanted. 
Hell, Father, don't you realize the minute you're in the pool 
the whole island will know it?" 

"Uh-huh," Lynch grinned. "But they'll say I'm a bad boy. 
They'll say I've been thrown into it, which should take some 
of the curse off the grandstand item. They'll even say I'm 
in disgrace. What a disgrace! To be punished by transfer 
to chaplain of the 165th Infantry Regiment of the 27th Divi- 
sion!" He ended on a laugh. 

"What makes you so sure? You could be shipped some- 
where else." 

"The 27th is asking around for a Catholic chaplain with 
an Irish name," Lynch grinned. "I'll be the only one in the 
surplus pool who fits." 

Klein's eyes opened in surprise. "HowM you know that?" 

"Oh, I get around as I've told you before. And now that's 
settled, about that one week furlough . . /* 

178 



Father Cyclone 

"Hey! It's not settled, and how in hell did you know about 
the furlough? I only signed the order this morning!" 

"My private espionage system works wonders!" Lynch 
said. "I'm going to New Zealand since there's not enough 
time to go home. I'd like to see it." He cocked his head at 
Klein. "By the way, I understand youVe been ordered back 
on official business. Don't forget you made me a promise." 

Klein lifted his hands in horror. "Not again! I'm making 
you no promises. It ain't safe." 

"You already have! Will you go and see Mom when you 
get back?" 

"Oh, that! You know I will." 

Colonel Klein was to visit many times the solid, strong- 
faced, quick-moving woman who was Father Larry's "Mom." 
He was to become a close friend of the quiet, older edition 
of the man he called his Irish Rabbi. But the visit which 
made an indelible impression was the first. 

"I don't know what we'd have done without your son," 
he told them. "He has been a tremendous influence for good 
among the men." 

"Is he all right? Is he ... safe?" Breathless fear filled 
the mother-face. 

Klein laughed. "Safe? On New Caledonia? Why, we're as 
far from war there as you are here in Brooklyn." 

"God be praised for that. Tell me how he looks. Is he 
well?" 

"Well and strong and fine. One of the best." He sipped 
the tea she had made for him, lifted it in silent tribute to 
his friend. 

"God bless you for coming," Larry Lynch's mother said. 

179 



Father Cyclone 

"You know, Colonel, my Lala promised I'd hear from him 
every day till the day I die no matter where he is. You 
won't believe it, but never a day passes without a letter, a 
telephone call or a visit from a friend of Lala's like you 
maybe. Every day I hear from him." 

Years later, when he was national commander of the Jew- 
ish War Veterans and the honored guest at a communion 
breakfast of an American Legion post of Catholic War Vet- 
erans, Klein repeated those words . . . and they were still 
true. 



180 



CHAPTER TWELVE 



Father John Byrne, chaplain of the Field Artillery bat- 
talions of the 27th Division had been home on furlough. 
He was returning to his base Espiritu Santo but was de- 
layed on New Caledonia awaiting an air ferry back. It was 
three days before he got one and he used those three days 
to good advantage. 

Tall, spare and keen, the priest had been with the 27th 
since it first left the United States. He was as much a part 
of it as the men who had come with him through Makin 
and Saipan; he had been with his men every inch of the 
way. He knew and loved his division; he knew and loved 
the men he served. 

But it was almost impossible for him to care for the men 
of two different regiments and do for them the things he 
felt should be done. He knew that the 165th was beginning 
to feel jittery about this business of a chaplain. They liked 
him, but they preferred to have a chaplain of their own. 

181 



Father Cyclone 

The man who was called "Brooklyn" or "The Champ/' as 
often as he was called "Father Larry" or plain Padre, was 
in New Zealand on a week's furlough when Father Byrne 
arrived on Noumea. But he heard a lot about Father Law- 
rence E. Lynch, and most of what he heard, he liked. There 
were some things he didn't like, but the 165th needed a 
chaplain too badly to let them stand in the way. 

This particular chaplain seemed to fit the qualifications 
demanded by the men of the 165th. They were rigid in 
their demands: they wanted a priest, and they wanted one 
who would live up to the traditions of the Old Fighting 
69th, traditions established by Father Duffy in the first 
World War. Father Byrne knew those traditions well; he 
had come directly to the Armed Forces from Father Duffy's 
own parish, Holy Cross, on 42nd Street in Manhattan. 

"He's got an Irish name," Byrne told Father Yarwood, 
Division Chaplain. "And he's from New York Brooklyn, ac- 
tually. To me he sounds like the 165th, and I think the men 
would go for him." 

"He's too good to be true," Father Lafayette Yarwood 
had good reason to sound cynical. It wasn't easy to get any 
kind of chaplain for the 165th! "And if he's that good, you 
know as well as I do, he won't be available." 

"As a matter of fact, that's one thing about him I don't 
like too much," Byrne said. "I can't figure why he's avail- 
able, or why he's in the surplus pool." 

Father Yarwood jumped up. "What? For the love of 
Heaven, Johnny, if he's in the pool, let's grab him before 
somebody else beats us to it." 

"You don't think we should find out why?" Byrne asked. 

182 



Father Cyclone 

"I got an idea-from things I heard he's a bit on the radical 
side." 

"I don't care what he is or why he's in the pool, so long 
as he is in it. Ill requisition him at once. If he's any good 
as a chaplain, and the men like him, I can't see that any- 
thing else matters." 

Father Byrne hesitated to express the idea which had 
been growing into a certainty the more he thought about it, 
but since this seemed to be his pigeon, he thought, he had 
very little choice. "It occurred to me that he might have 
had himself put into the pool." 

Father Yarwood looked surprised. "Are you crazy? Why?" 

"Because he's smart," Father Byrne said. "It would be 
one way of getting requisitioned into the 165th." 

"A glory seeker?" Yarwood frowned. 

"I'm not saying he is," Byrne said, "but things I heard . . . 
he's no retiring violet, apparently. And he's smart, too. Smart 
enough to know if he's in the pool, we'll ask for him. You 
think there's a chaplain in service doesn't realize it's an 
honor to take over Father Duffy's outfit particularly a New 
Yorker?" 

"You make it sound logical, Johnny," Father Yarwood 
nodded. "All the same, if he's that smart, he must know 
we're getting set for another tough assignment. If it's just 
glory he wants, he must be willing to risk a lot for it." 

"I don't know" Byrne admitted. "But I wanted you to 
know how I felt about it. If you're satisfied, I am." 

"Thanks. I appreciate that," Father Yarwood smiled. 
"What I'm concerned with now is, can we get him in time 
so he can train with the men before we push off?" 

183 



Father Cyclone 

"We can try. And say, talking of pushing off what about 
that Mission for the division I suggested. You give it any 
thought?" 

"Y^es, Tve thought about it," Yarwood said regretfully. "I 
don't think the men would respond, and frankly I can't say 
I'd bilame them too much." 

"I still think they'd like it," Byrne said, a stubborn note 
in his voice. "It wouldn't have to be a long-winded busi- 
ness, Wouldn't you at least sound out the other chaplains 
and see how they feel about it?" 

1 could do that," the division chaplain said. Father Byrne 
let it go at that; it was as much as he could expect for the 
moinent. 



Ever since the day when he had spoken so revealingly 
of Ids family "let his dukes down" was the way Kittler 
thought of it Father Lynch seemed determined to alienate 
his assistant anew, as though he resented having permitted 
anycHie inside his guard. Yet there were other moments as 
when Lynch unconsciously showed glimpses of another side 
of his nature, glimpses that betrayed his deep reverence and 
love for the Mother of God and his worship of God. 

Kittler spent many fruitless hours trying to analyze the 
man, For nearly a year now, they had worked side by side, 
and yet at times, Lynch still made him feel inadequate. 
Sometimes, it seemed, he had no patience with Kittler, as 

184 



Father Cyclone 

if the gap between them was far too wide to bridge. This 
usually happened after the priest had allowed an almost 
violent humility denied yet terrible in its intensity to seep 
through his "front." 

Kittler began to feel that Lynch's very "rowdiness" was a 
blind, even though his casual approach to the men never 
failed to offend Kittler's sense of the dignity of the chap- 
lain's office. Yet, looking back afterwards, he was forced to 
admit that the year he had worked with the priest was 
one of the most satisfying of his life. 

Rarely did the chaplain ascend the altar for Mass with- 
out some incident which, at first, profoundly shocked his 
assistant; later, on reflection, he realized that the men liked 
it, appreciated it. Sometimes Lynch had the altar turned so 
that he faced the men throughout the Mass, ordering them 
to watch his every movement. He frequently ordered them 
to recite parts of the Mass aloud in English while he read 
it in Latin: the Confiteor, the Credo, the Pater Noster. But 
no matter how unorthodox his actions, he succeeded in mak- 
ing the men aware of the Miracle about to be enacted before 
them. 

Kittler knew now that, despite the feeling of continued 
strain and his wish that he had hit it off better with the 
priest, he had a deep affection for Father Lynch, When he 
learned from Chief Cook McCarthy that Lynch had been 
ordered transferred to the 27th Division, he was genuinely 
distressed, though he would not have willingly admitted it. 

But he was also deeply shocked. It was December twen- 
tieth when Kittler heard the news, and Lynch was due to 
leave two days later! Worse still, McCarthy had it on excel- 

185 



Father Cyclone 

lent authority that it was the priest himself who had re- 
quested the transfer! 

Staring out the window of the office much as he had 
waited a year ago for the new priest Kittler thought of the 
many times he had himself written a request for transfer. 
He shook his head, remembering Lynch's uncanny ability 
to know the right moment to appear and talk him out of it. 
And now, . . . 

He saw the jaunty swagger, the close-cropped bare head 
as Lynch came down the company street, and went to his 
desk, pretending to concentrate on something in the type- 
writer. As always, he told himself he must not let Lynch 
get him into a row. He'd say nothing about the transfer. 
He'd remain quiet, controlled; Lynch wasn't catching him 
with his defenses down! 

Lynch's greeting was the usual "Hi-ya, Champ!" and 
Kittler heard himself snap: "So you wanta be a hero!" 

The priest pretended not to understand. "What gives? And 
where'd you get that crazy idea?'* 

"Quit stalling," Kittler barked. "I always knew you were 
an egomaniac. So now you wanta get yourself killed. You're 
always in such a rush," the words were tumbling out, speak- 
ing themselves, giving Kittler no time to think them or 
phrase them, **. . . always hurrying somewhere for some- 
thing. You never stop to think. You decide to do things like 
thatF He snapped his fingers and his gray-blue eyes flashed 
his fury, 'Then you expect somebody else to come and get 
your dirty work done. You can't get away with it forever. 
You . . . you . . " The ache in his throat stopped him. 

186 



Father Cyclone 

"You're unusually severe with me today, Champ," Lynch 
said gently. 

Kittler shook his head as if to clear it, but the fury rushed 
up in him again. "You . . . you figure if you're a hero, 
maybe . . . maybe . . . Dammit, one day 111 write a book 
about you. I'll put in it all the conceit, all the common, all 
the damned stuck-up . . . This is one time you've bitten off 
a big chunk. You can't get away with it. I tell you, it's just 
. . . just . . ." He had no idea how incoherent it sounded; 
it didn't matter. 

"What'll you call it, Kit?" Lynch asked, using for the first 
time a name only Kittler's closest friends used. "Something 
like Everything's Part of the Act?" His tone was teasing. "Or 
maybe something dumb like Looking for Death? You still 
think I'm phony, don't you? That I'm putting on an act?" 

"What else can it be?" Battler wished his throat didn't 
ache. "Everything's got to be done in a hurry. Life, death, 
even the Holy Mass. So Lynch makes it hurry, hurry, hurry, 
like a circus barker. I just wanta know what you figure to 
gain by getting yourself killed. A medal? So what?" 

"What makes you think I'm that dumb?" Lynch asked 
him. 

"You can't kid me, see? I know you. You think you're a 
great dramatist, see. You gotta strut your stuff, see." He 
punctuated each one with a stab of his forefinger on Lynch's 
chest. "You . . . you . . . why, it'd shame you to die slow. 
You gotta go dramatic." 

"You don't think much of my faith, Glenn," Lynch said. 
"What you're suggesting sounds a lot like suicide." 

"All right Then why'd you fix it to die like this?" 

187 



Father Cyclone 

"If you insist can you think of a better way?" Lynch 
asked, "If I am to die, is there a better way than in the 
service of my God, for whom I was ordained a priest, and 
of the men I love, for whom I became a chaplain?" 

Kittler wanted to say something, but when he opened his 
lips to speak, no words came. Whatever the priest saw in 
his face seemed to satisfy him; he nodded, touched Kittler's 
jaw gently with his closed fist and smiled. 

"Always remember to do everything for God, Kit. He'll 
bless you and keep you smiling, and may His Blessed Mother 
watch over you." And suddenly he was gone. 

Kittler's eyes stung and he brushed his hand over them 
impatiently. He inhaled deeply, a long, shuddering breath. 
"I love that louse, that wretch, that . . . that . . . damned 
Brooklyn," he muttered, wholly unaware that he spoke the 
words aloud. 



The chaplain's office was oddly quiet; it had been so for 
nearly a week now, empty of the vital presence which could 
irritate Kittler to distraction, yet he found it difficult to con- 
centrate on the work piled high on his desk, most of it taken 
from Lynch's files; he was sorting it for microfilm. 

The hurt of Lynch's departure without a word of fare- 
well had lessened somewhat; there were times when he was 
glad the priest had chosen to disappear. But even yet, though 
the chaplain's jeep was at his disposal, he had no desire to 

188 



Father Cyclone 

go anywhere or do anything but the job he had promised 
Lynch he would do on the files. 

He had not looked at the mail as yet and picked it up 
now with indifference. The sight of his name in LyncKs 
familiar, unmistakable scrawl snapped him to attention. He 
ripped open the large envelope and stared at the photostat. 
It was headed in caps: 

COMMENDATION 

FOR OUTSTANDING SERVICES 

CAPTAIN LAWRENCE E. LYNCH, 0-428150 

CHAPLAIN'S CORPS, UNITED STATES ARMY 

and below that, a block of text: 

You are highly commended for outstanding services in 
the South Pacific Area from December 1943 to December 
1944. As chaplain representing the Catholic faith in the New 
Caledonia Island Command, you have had a stimulating in- 
fluence on a great number of troops. These men, whose work 
was carried on under difficult and trying circumstances 
through long hours of day and night without adequate recre- 
ation or rest periods, have found you always ready as their 
constant advisor and benefactor, as well as religious leader. 
You realized early in your stay the important part a man 
of your calling could play in furthering the war effort by 
maintaining contact with the troops under your care. To 
that end you were always available to care for their wel- 
fare. You did not wait for their request for assistance, but 
sought them out at their work and in their organizations, in 
order to administer to their needs. You were tireless in your 
efforts, always inspiring men to greater devotion to God and 

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Father Cyclone 

Country. The exemplary manner in which you performed 
your job, above and beyond the call of duty, reflect good 
credit on yourself, your profession and the military service. 

(signed) F. Gilbreath 

Major General, USA. Commanding 

Glenn Kittler read it through, without emotion, until he 
saw the familiar scrawl across the bottom: 

"I owe this to you for your grand cooperation, patience 
and understanding. Thanks, Champ. God and Mary love 
you and bless everything you do. Father Larry, Brooklyn." 

Glenn Kittler didn't bother to wipe the tears from his 
eyes, letting them run, unashamed, down his cheek. His 
chest was tight when he prayed: "God keep you safe, Father 
Larry." 



The Army High Command refers to such places as Espi- 
ritu Santo, largest of the New Hebrides group, as a "rest 
center," In army jargon this means literally the reverse of 
a place of rest. 

There is no time for rest in active warfare; men "on the 
line" know that. They well know the torturing need for rest 
and sleep, a need which can be worse than wounds or ill- 
ness. But when they are back of the line, they know that 
"rest" means hardening: preparation for days when rest is 
utterly impossible, preparation for the next push, rehabilita- 
tion and the filling in of vacant spaces in the unit line. 

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Father Cyclone 

Raw, untried, and unseasoned troops must be taught the 
business of active war. They must learn the new tricks their 
brothers learned in combat at the cost of limbs and the 
lives of buddies. They must learn how to become part of a 
fighting unit, as a finger is part of a hand and a hand part 
of the arm, a long, grueling process of daily, hourly work. 

Every man on Espiritu Santo came to know that this was 
no "rest" billet that "rest center" was a misnomer for the 
staging area where the very intensity of their training 
warned them the next job would be "It." Day after day, 
officers and enlisted men went through all the rigors of ac- 
tual warfare. A man could gripe to his heart's contentthat 
was his privilege as a free man, his heritage as a soldier- 
but there were no "dry runs" here, and he knew it. As easy 
to die by the accidental shot of a buddy, if a man was care- 
less with live ammo, as by enemy fire on the line. 

Damn nonsense working on front-line rations with a 
cookshack right there waiting for orders. But men who 
crawled through stinking jungles, learning that life could 
depend on the speed of digging a foxhole, had no time for 
meals. 

Nights and days spent in foxholes seemed so unnecessary 
here, but how else to learn the checkerboard system of "time 
in and time out"? The ability to live without sleep or rest 
could mean the difference between life and death! 

Espiritu Santo, nearly twice as long as its forty-five mile 
width, is a lovely, tree-shaded, heavily wooded island, dotted 
with streams, many of them navigable for long distances by 
small craft. It has some excellent harbors and some not so 
good, but most of them ideal for "landing tactics." Mt. Santo, 

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Father Cyclone 

along the coastline to the west, with a peak of 5,520 feet, 
has at its base beautiful, broad and fertile valleys where an 
enemy might be expected to lay in wait. 

"Santo" has rough roads and hidden places where a 
swampy, steamy morass might be filled with deadly snakes. 
The Japanese knew how to protect themselves from snakes; 
Americans must learn. Soldiers of the Rising Sun could lurk 
safely in swamps; Americans must search them out. 

There are places on "Santo" where the sun beats down 
mercilessly on treeless, shadeless spaces such a space, for 
example, as that occupied by the 27th Division. 

The 27th Division was spread out in a vast T-shaped area, 
with division headquarters the crossbar of the T and the 
rest subdivided into sections. The regiment farthest from 
headquarters was the 165th Infantry. 

The physical plant was no different from Camp Wheeler 
in Georgia, Camp Polk in Louisiana, or a camp on the edge 
of the Mofave Desert but this was not the United States, 
and that made a difference. 

There were other differences. The pitiless sun wasn't the 
same nor the sudden, heavy rains which beat down on tent- 
covered shacks. The insects swarming in droves after dark 
were not the same; they forced stringent regulations. No 
man moved after dark without his mosquito repellent; no 
man left the button of his collar or cuffs open after sunset, 
from general to buck private. 

The men were the samewith the same hates and loves 
and fears and boredom. Griping helped some, but griping 
could not assuage prickly heat or the eternally damned crud 

192 



Father Cyclone 

the fungus infection with no remedy, which itched unbear- 
ably and drove a man to the brink of insanity. 

Griping couldn't ease the terrible hunger for loved ones, 
the yearning for "home/' the waiting, waiting, waiting. 
Sometimes a chaplain could help, but the 165th had had 
bad luck with chaplains. Nobody could expect them to go 
"up" without a chaplain, and their chaplain had to be some- 
thing special everybody knew that! 

The small chapel in the exact center of the 165th section 
was empty. Next to it, a regulation canvas tent set aside for 
the regiment's chaplain was also empty. Time was running 
out. No man knew how long they'd be here, and a chap- 
lain had a right to get to know guys; they had a right to 
get to know him. Would he be "regular"? Or ... 

Lt. Col. Joseph Hart, regimental executive officer of the 
165th and second in command to Col. Girard Kelley, sat 
beside Lt. Col. Dennis Claire, 3rd Battalion Commander, 
in the officers' mess, and Claire told him news which was 
already three days old. 

"You're mad! He couldn't have been here three days and 
us not know it. Where in hell has he been? Doesn't he eat?" 

"In the men's mess," Claire said with a grin. "Even they 
didn't know who he was." 

"But . . . dammit, why wasn't I told?" the executive of- 
ficer demanded. "Surely Father Yarwood knew!" 

"I doubt it. Seems he wanted to get oriented before an- 
nouncing his arrival. If it hadn't been for the notice on the 
bulletin board, I wouldn't have known it yet. Mass, tomor- 
row morning at half-past five, it said, and it was signed 
Father Lawrence Lynch. So I called Yarwood." 

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Father Cyclone 

"We'll have to have a chat with this Father Lynch/' Hart 
said. "He doesn't seem to know there are some regulations 
in this man's Army. If he's triyng to be a smart guy, we'll 
have to teach him some army manners." 

"Maybe he's just dumb/' Claire said. "Sometimes they 
shove 'em through so fast that , . ." 

Hart stopped him with a snort. "If he is, he'd better get 
over it quick." 



194 



CHAPTER THIRTEEN 



The chaplain of any fighting unit of men, if lie is wise, 
knows that a great deal is expected of him by the men he 
is sent to serve, but to use that maxim in reference to the 
chaplain of the 165th Infantry Regiment of the 27th Divi- 
sion was to make a gross understatement of fact. 

To the men of the 165th, their chaplain was different, a 
being superior to all others, of whom they could be proud 
in a personal way. Inured to hardship, danger, death, they 
had had reason to be proud of Father Meaney on Makin 
and Father McCabe who got "his" on Saipan. They were 
inordinately proud of the regiment and its record, and they 
almost deified these two men, particularly in the absence of 
a chaplain of their own. Any successor to Meaney and Mc- 
Cabe had standards already set up for him. 

Father Byrne had done his best for them. They knew it 

195 



Father Cyclone 

and were grateful, but it was not enough. Now, apparently, 
they had a chaplain again, and it was well he had come 
when he did, for in one respect, at least, a chaplain was no 
different from any other man in the regiment. He had to 
be broken in, trained d^wn as any rookie from back home. 
He had to prove himself a good soldier as well as a good 
chaplain. 

Veterans of two of the worst campaigns in the whole 
South Pacific theater of war, the men of the 165th were will- 
ing to give the new man a chance, but it was up to him. 
They weren't going out to meet him; they were glad to have 
him, but they would not show it, yet. It was an unwritten 
law that he was on trial. 

Lt. Col. Joseph Hart was as well aware of this axiom as 
any man in the outfit, and while he harbored a feeling of 
annoyance at the chaplain who had not done him the ordi- 
nary courtesy of reporting his presence on Santo, he was 
nevertheless curious about the man Lynch. He was also con- 
siderably surprised at the turnout of men for that early 
Sunday morning Mass. Quite obviously, the men knew the 
chaplain had arrived; the chapel had not been so crowded 
since the regiment came to Santo. 

Father Lawrence Lynch was in uniform when he stepped 
to the foot of the improvised altar, his collar turned under, 
his cap in his belt. On a table close by were the Mass vest- 
ments, but the priest ignored them for the moment. He 
stood there waiting, legs apart, his dark eyes darting over 
the men in the chapel. 

Men who had been kneeling seated themselves, and those 

196 



Father Cyclone 

already seated seemed to lean forward. Hart, sitting next to 
Dennis Claire, nudged him, eyebrows raised, 

Now Lynch smiled, moved forward a step and spoke in 
a clear, distinct voice. "I am Father Lawrence Lynch and 
I'm from Brooklyn." He put into it all the swaggering as- 
surance to be expected from such a statement, and then 
he waited. The laughter began down front, picked up and 
spread, and men who had come for Mass because it was 
Sunday and because it was expected of them, forgot for the 
moment that they were in church. 

Lynch knew he was on trial. This was no bored gang on 
Noumea, no bunch of raw recruits back in the States. He was 
dealing with seasoned men many of them young in years 
but older than he was! If he faltered now . . . There was 
no sign of hesitation as he crossed his arms with exaggerated 
bravado: 

"I'm God's gift to the Army and to you guys," he said, 
"and if any man doubts that statement, 111 be glad to prove 
it after Mass." 

His cocky belligerence was so out of keeping with his 
stature, that the titter swelled into a belly laugh and echoed 
throughout the chapel. As if he waited until he was sure it 
was laughter, Lynch nodded at them, smiled, and lifted his 
hand for silence. 

"Thanks," he said. "Now, let's get down to the business be- 
fore us. We're going to celebrate Holy Mass thafs what 
you're here for. But before we begin, let's talk just a minute 
about this business of the Mass itself. In just a few minutes, 
we're going to witness a miracle. You hear that? A miracle, 
men. Never forget that it is a miracle. Because in just a few 

197 



Father Cyclone 

minutes, I'm going to stand there, at that altar, and I'm going 
to bring Jesus Christ here to you. 

"I'm going to repeat His very own Words, those unfor- 
gettable, incredible Words . . . and by the power which 
God Himself has given me, I will change bread and wine 
into the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. 

"His own Sacred Body. His very own Blood. Jesus Christ, 
Himself! He will be here in person. He will be here before 
your very eyes, ready to come into your hearts, if you will 
let Him. 

"Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, Who was willing to 
hide His divine nature, Who was willing to take on our 
human nature, so that we might call Him brother. 

"You wouldn't hesitate to talk to your brother. Would 
you? Of course not. Okay, then. Let's get going all together 
in this business of talking to God. 

"The Mass is one way of talking to God. When you par- 
ticipate in the Mass, you're talking to God. I am only your 
instrument in this business of the miracle of changing bread 
and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ; this is YOUR 
Mass. You must do your share to make it acceptable to God. 

"When you see the living Christ here before you on the 
altar, that gives you a break. That gives you your chance to 
talk to Him. Tell Him what's in your hearts. Remember that 
I am only your go-between. I am only the guy who is here 
to bring you and Christ together. Tell Him your problems. 
Talk to Him as you would talk to your brother. 

"Remember, men. This is YOUR Mass. I am only your am- 
bassador, designated to bring you and Jesus Christ together. 

198 



Father Cyclone 

God bless you and keep you happy always/* He raised his 
hand in benediction. 

He turned, moved to the side table and began putting on 
the vestments, giving them time to digest what he had said 
before beginning the Mass. 

Then he stepped to the foot of the altar again, turned to 
them again and said: "111 be in the confessional after Mass/' 

Lt. Col Hart and Lt. Col. Claire left the chapel together, 
but neither man spoke until they were nearly halfway to 
their adjoining huts. As if by mutual consent, they stopped 
and looked at each other. 

"What do you think, Dinny?" Hart asked the man who 
had been his friend for many years. 

"Looks like we got us a chaplain." 



One week passed before Father John Byrne met the new 
chaplain of the 165th Regiment, but he had given no thought 
to the matter. He was too busy trying to work out details of 
his dream for giving one Mission for the whole 27th Di- 
vision. It wasn't easy to sell Yarwood on the idea, though he 
had promised to sound out the other chaplains in the di- 
vision. 

Father Byrne glanced at his watch as he neared his tent- 
shack. He had a good ten minutes before he was due at 
division headquarters, time for a cat nap. He was dog tired 

199 



Father Cyclone 

and would appreciate those ten minutes stretched out on 
his bunk. 

His shirt was half unbuttoned when he opened his door, 
and as he was peeling it off a voice from his cot stopped him 
short. 

"Hi-ya, Champ!" was Lynch's greeting. "Nice spot you 
got here." 

"You must be Larry Lynch," Byrne said, his eyes coldly 
appraising the man who was stretched out on his cot, knees 
up, one resting on the other, a yellow pad his! on the raised 
knee and Byrne's one good pen being used to make scratches 
on it 

"From Brooklyn," Lynch said, adding, "and that's usually 
good for one grin at least." 

"Ill bet," Byrne said dryly. "Who let you in?" 

"You forgot to close the door." 

Byrne began to rebutton his shirt, resigning himself to the 
loss of his ten-minute rest. 

"Nice outfit, the 165th," Lynch said, with a hint of con- 
descension. "Not much of a turnout at daily Mass, but that's 
probably because they've been without a chaplain for so 
long." 

Father Byrne was stung into a reply. "You try taking care 
of two regiments and see what it's like!" 

Lynch chuckled. "Okay, Johnny. Don't get riled." 

"If you're here for a reason, spill it," Byrne snapped. "I've 
got to be at GHQ . . ." 

"I know," Lynch interrupted, throwing his legs to the floor 
and himself to a sitting position. "I'm giving a Mission for 
the 105th Infantry Regiment and I'd like you to help." 

200 



Father Cyclone 

Father Byrne stared for a moment in amazed disbelief. 
"For the 105th? Why not for the 165th?" 

"Because Father Dinn, chaplain of the 105th Infantry, 
asked me to. After it's over, 111 give one for the 165th . . ," 

It was Byrne's turn to interrupt. The sound he made was 
meant for a laugh, but it came out a moan. Here it was 
again! The thing he had been trying to fight for weeks, and 
if this new guy, trained as a missionary, felt that way about 
it, what chance of convincing Yarwood? 

"Sure," he said. "And after the 165th, you can give one for 
the 105th Field Artillery. And then well have one for the 
106th Infantry and another one for the 106th Field Ar- 
tillery." 

Lawrence Lynch moved swiftly and stood before the 
taller man, staring at him. His voice was low and intense. 
"What're you trying to tell me, Johnny?" 

"How much time you think we've got?" Byrne demanded. 
"May as well plan a Mission for each company and each 
battalion! I still don't see why one for the whole di- 
vision . . ." 

"Any place big enough?" Lynch immediately picked out 
the one possible stumbling block. 

"The division theater is big enough to hold the men wholl 
come. It's centrally located, but . . . oh, what's the use? 
Father Yarwood is right, of course. Men who are out train- 
ing for ten- twelve hours . . /* 

"It's a magnificent idea, Johnny," Lynch said, his face 
alight. "It would make history!" 

"Quit kidding yourself/' Byrne said. "I told you. Yarwood 

201 



Father Cyclone 

is sure there'd be no turnout, and you know as well as I do 
that a badly attended Mission is worse than no Mission at 
all." 

"Quite true/' Lynch said, "but if we could convince Yar~ 
wood it wouldn't be badly attended?" He grinned. "Would 
Yarwood object then?" 

"Hey, don't go misquoting me," Byrne said. "Yarwood 
doesn't object. It's just he doesn't want to make a bad im- 
pression." 

"I know," Lynch nodded. "So we'll give the Mission for 
the 105th Infantry Regiment, and when he sees the turnout 
for it, he'll be the first to agree that a division Mission can't 
miss!" 

"You're damned cocky about it," Byrne snapped. "I've been 
trying to sell the idea to Yarwood for more than a month." 

Lynch lifted the yellow pad he still held and extended it 
to the other man. "What do you think of it?" he asked. 

Father Byrne looked at it without interest, then his eyes 
narrowed as he studied it more closely. Despite its roughed 
in stage, there was no mistaking the Hodegetria. His eyes 
returned to the face of the shorter man, a question in them. 

"She'll see the 105th Infantry Mission is tremendous," 
Lynch said quietly. "And that the division Mission is terrific. 
She's never let me down yet and she's not going to begin 
now!" 



202 



Father Cyclone 



Lt Col. Joseph Hart stood before a wall map of the island 
of Espiritu Santo, moving pins around, plotting tomorrow's 
"'campaign" for his staff conference. He did not turn at the 
sound of footsteps but snapped: "Well, what is it?" and con- 
tinued his work. When he got no response, he swung around 
angrily and almost tripped over his chair and the man who 
sat in it. 

"Col. Joe Hart, I believe," Lynch said with an exaggerated 
bow. 

"You . . ." Hart stopped and changed it to: "It's taken 
you quite a while to get around to me, Father Lynch/' 

"Uh-huh. Hasn't it?" Lynch grinned with no sign of 
apology. 

Hart studied him with cold appraisal, and Lynch returned 
the look, his face expressionless now. Drops of moisture glis- 
tened on the priest's forehead, and Hart took note of the 
collar turned under, the cap tucked into his belt; a thin film 
of fine gray dust was on the dark, close-cropped head a 
dust peculiar to "Santo," which was part basalt and part 
the residue of volcanic eruptions from one of the active 
craters on Mt. Santo. 

Suddenly Hart nodded. "But you really should put in an 
appearance at the officers' mess, you know," he said, as if 
it had been a subject long under discussion. 

"Okay," Lynch said. "Tonight." 

"Good." Hart offered Lynch a cigarette, lit it and took one 

203 



Father Cyclone 

for himself. "Now, did you want to see me about something 
special?" 

"Uh-huh," Lynch said. 

Hart grinned. "I figured as much otherwise you wouldn't 
be here. Well?" 

"I want you to come to a Mission we're giving for the 
105th Infantry Regiment. I may need your help when we 
tackle Father Yarwood about a Mission for the whole di- 
vision." 

"How come the 105th Infantry?" Hart asked the natural 
question. 

"It's Father Dinn's idea; he wanted one for the 105th. 
And Father Byrne suggested one for the division, but Father 
Yarwood didn't think it would be a success, so we want this 
one to go over first to show him." 

"I've got nothing to say about it," Hart said. "Yarwood is 
division chaplain and he's the one got final say." 

Lynch nodded, "We know that. But we've got to have a 
turnout for this Mission to prove to him we'll have a turnout 
for the big one." 

Something about the way he said it made Hart pause. At 
last, he said: "Okay, Father. What's behind all this? You're 
not fooling me for a minute. You've got something up your 
sleeve; out with it." 

"You're a bright boy, Colonel Joe. Let it go until after 
the 105th Mission. That'll be time enough." 



204 



Father Cyclone 



The first Catholic Mission ever given on Espiritu Santo 
was a success. The chapel of the 105th Infantry Regiment 
of the 27th Division was hardly large enough for the men 
who attended it: many from other regiments were present, 
despite the short notice and lack of publicity. 

In addition to the 105th Infantry Regiments own chap- 
lain, Father Dinn, and Father John Byrne, chaplain of the 
27th Division's Field Artillery, Lynch asked Father Duhart 
-another Redemptorist and chaplain of the 106th Infantry- 
to assist. They all took turns preaching, and the men gave 
them flattering attention. When it was over, even Father 
Yarwood admitted it had been a complete success. 

Later, at his request, all Catholic chaplains based on 
Santo met with him in his office, a tent no different from the 
others on the island. If anything, it was smaller than most, 
but the men who crowded into it were used to roughing it 
Some squatted on the floor in the center, near the desk; two 
of them used corners of the desk behind which sat Father 
Lafayette Yarwood, and the only other chair was occupied 
by Father Lawrence E. Lynch. 

"I've had an ambitious project handed me," Father Yar- 
wood told them, "and Yd like your opinions. Before he left 
on furlough, Father Byrne had suggested it, but until re- 
cently I honestly didn't believe it a possibility. Operation 
Missiona Mission for the whole division. What do you 
think?" 

205 



Father Cyclone 

Some of the men who faced him were very young, with 
old, wise faces lighted by eyes that had looked on pain, suf- 
fering, and death and that knew much of humanity. Most of 
them had been on Saipan and Makin. They were brothers-in- 
arms, friends, associates of the men they loved and served. 
They had known the same exhaustion; the same human re- 
sentment at being pushed beyond endurance; the same de- 
termination to go on beyond the required limits. 

Their reactions were immediate and satisfying; they were 
unanimous in their instant ratification of the idea presented 
to them. 

"It could be a failure," Yarwood said, after some moments 
of silence. "It is a big undertaking, and if any one of you 
feels it could be too much, or if you think there is any possi- 
bility of failure, please remember that I was the first to ob- 
ject and have no hesitancy in saying so/' His eyes searched 
every face. Without a word, each head nodded in turn. 

"Thanks," he said. "The 27th Division will now proceed to 
make history. Well give a Catholic Mission with every 
Catholic chaplain participating in it. Now, what about dates? 
Any suggestions?" 

"Easter falls on April first," Father Dinn said. "If we hold 
it in late February . . ." 

"Wait," Father Byrne cut in. "Sure it's a good idea to hold 
it in Lent, but how can we be sure we'll be here that long?" 

"Johnny is right," Father Duhart said. "Judging by the 
way the men are being high-pressured in training, we could 
be shoving off any timel" 

"We could start it February twelfth," Lynch said. 

"That doesn't give us much time to get the men behind 

206 



Father Cyclone 

it," Duhart objected. "We may have to prod some . . ." 

"It will have to do/' Yarwood said. "If we're going to do 
it, we've got to get on the ball at once." 

"What about the rains?" Byrne asked. "Or have you all for- 
gotten that our 'theater' is ... slightly open-air? Most of 
the guys have even stayed away from the movies at night, 
it's been so wet." 

"The rain won't keep them away/' Lynch said confidently. 
"We'll get a turnout in spite of it." 

"Father Lynch is a missionary/' Yarwood said. "It seemed 
to me it would be wise for him to take charge." 

They accepted it as they would have accepted any order 
given them by their superior, but the previous feeling of 
unanimity was disturbed. There was no doubt of the pull- 
ing back. Lynch didn't help it by adding: "Rain or not, 111 
lay odds we have the biggest turnout . . ." He stopped, sud- 
denly aware of the new tension. 

This man was a stranger to them, a rookie fresh from the 
"back." What did he know of their men? Byrne remembered 
some of the things he had heard on Noumea; things he had 
deliberately withheld from Father Yarwood when they had 
first discussed Lynch. 

Father Lynch realized that his complacency had made 
some of them look at him with new interest while others had 
withdrawn. He needed these men, needed their understand- 
ing and their cooperation. "This Mission can't fail/' he said. 
"It will be given under the auspices of the most potent, in- 
vincible sponsor any Mission ever had Our Lady of Per- 
petual Help. She's never let me down yet, and she's not go- 
ing to begin now. That's why I can afford to lay odds on it" 

207 



Father Cyclone 

It was an astonishing thing for one priest to say to an as- 
sembly of his peers, yet he spoke so simply, so quietly of 
someone close and infinitely dear! In some strange fashion, 
he had spoken of his Mother and as a man's physical mother 
is peculiarly his, so had the Mother of God become his per- 
sonal mother. 

Now he stood up abruptly, a spot of color on each cheek. 
"Excuse me, Father/' he said to Yarwood. "But I've got a 
date with Col. Hart/' 

Without knocking, he entered Hart's office. It was empty, 
but he seated himself behind the desk, legs sprawled out be- 
fore him in supreme relaxation. He lighted a cigarette from 
a pack on the desk and had taken two long drags on it be- 
fore the executive officer returned. 

Hart's eyes widened in surprise: "Twice the same week, 
Father? You trying to convert me?'* 

Lynch laughed. "I just told some folks I had a date with 
you, so I had to make it true. Besides, remember you prom- 
ised to help when we give the Mission for the division," 

"I didn't promise, and I told you Father Yarwood's the 
one who has last word on a thing like that." 

Lynch waved his hand. "Oh, that! It's all settled Febru- 
ary twelfth. Maybe three- four days. But I've been worrying 
about something else. Since I'm the only chaplain with the 
165th, what do we do about Protestants and Jews?" 

"You're not figuring on putting on a Mission for them., are 
you?" Hart grinned, and was amazed to see Lynch jump up. 

"Say, that's an idea!" 

"Wait a minute, Father!" Hart protested. "I was only jok- 
ing, cracking wise." 

208 



Father Cyclone 

"No man's religion is a joke, Colonel Joe/' Lynch said, an 
edge to his voice. "Whatever his faith, so long as he lives 
up to it . . ." 

"Hey, hold it, Father. Don't misunderstand me. What I 
meant was . . . well, after all, Protestants and Jews don't 
go in for Missions. And if you try starting something, you'll 
get yourself into a sweet jam, take my word for it. Why, the 
other chaplains even the Catholics! would probably raise 
merry hell if ... excuse me . . ." 

"When I was down in Louisiana, Colonel, there was a 
Negro soldier wanted to get married. His girl came from 
New York, but things were rough for them. Both were col- 
lege graduates, but poor, pitifully poor, with families to 
worry about, but they wanted a real wedding more than 
anything in life. A friend of mine got his wife to lend Irene 
her own wedding gown, and Horace wore my best dress 
uniform without the insignia, of course. 

"What a wedding that was! You couldn't buy anything for 
a party, but we rustled 'em the swellest wedding breakfast 
any couple ever had. There wasn't a hotel room in town, so 
Horace put his bride into my jeep and they went off to a 
cottage loaned 'em by another one of my friends. It was all 
stocked up, too! Horace hated to marry Irene that way, but 
he wanted to be sure, he said, she'd be okay if ... anything 
happened to him." His voice dropped. "I guess his insur- 
ance came in mighty handy when their baby was bom." 

He seemed lost in thought for some seconds and then Hart 
said, **I don't quite get the connection, Father," 

Lynch laughed softly. "Horace was a Baptist when I first 
met him. And Irene was Methodist. But Horace liked Mis- 

209 



Father Cyclone 

sions tremendously. He used to attend them all never missed 
a Mission service if he could make it. Later, after they were 
baptized . . ." He grinned at Hart and changed what he 
intended to say. "Irene named the boy Lawrence/' he said. 

Hart nodded slowly. "Okay, Father/' he said. "I hope your 
Catholic, Protestant and Jewish Missions come oflF all right. 
If I can do anything to help, let me know. Just don't get me 
all snarled up with the Chaplains' Corps." 

'Til try not to/' Lynch laughed. "But you never can tell, 
Colonel Joe/' 



210 



CHAPTER FOURTEEN 



In one respect at least, the expectation of the whole Corps 
of Chaplains of the 27th Division was completely fulfilled 
when the division Mission was held on Santo. It rained. Hour 
after hour and night after night, the incessant rain beat down 
on the half-covered "stage" where the Mission was held. 

The resemblance between a real theater and the appella- 
tion "Division Theater" was coincidental. Hard wooden 
benches actually slabs of lumber on wooden staves circled 
the great, bowl-like area, spreading out in ever-widening 
tiers. The "stage" was a bare, elevated platform with a white 
cloth screen set up for movies. This, and the table which had 
been arranged as an altar, were under the canvas half cover, 
and just within it, also sheltered from the rain, was the 
microphone connected to the loud-speaker system. 

The "floor" of the theater was a soggy, muddy swamp, and 

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Father Cyclone 

the aisles were rivers of sticky mud through which men 
slithered on their way to seats. 

Despite the rain, the mud and the sticky heat, men came 
to the Mission, and with them came swarms of mosquitoes 
and insects, disdainful of the pelting rain, eager for a chance 
at the unwitting soldier who dared disobey the O.D.'s routine 
order which opened every service: 

"By order of the Commanding General, all enlisted per- 
sonnel in the area will keep buttoned the top button and 
sleeves of their uniforms, whether denim or CKC outfits 
after evening mess. All division officers are required to wear 
ties after evening mess and keep sleeves buttoned." 

Ponchos those invaluable coveralls which, at a moment's 
notice, could become the top of a tent or part of a foxhole- 
were heavy and hot, but at least they kept a man dry. The 
priests, their cassocks over their uniforms, did not wear 
them. To some extent they were sheltered while they stood 
at the altar for Mass or to preach. 

Father Larry Lynch made the keynote address: "This Mis- 
sion will be a confession drive. We have a quota to fill and 
God quoted that quota at a hundred per cent for us. This 
week you are all salesmen for Christ. You have to sell Him 
to yourself, and to that fellow who wears a dog tag with a 
large *C' on it . . . but who hasn't calloused his knees wear- 
ing out the confession box or the communion rails. 

"Confession is the Sacrament of Mercy . . . the Sorrow for 
offending God . . . the telling of your sins and your guar- 
antee, promise, resolution to love God always. 

"No one can try to duck out bashfully on the plea that he 
will be noticed or stared at ... there are too many others 

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Father Cyclone 

like himself! That is the great blessing of a Mission ... a 
chance to step in line, keep in line, and keep in step with 
Christ. 

"This Mission is a Communion drive. Every Catholic goes 
to Confession and Communion during the Mission; even the 
lad who hasn't been around lately, even the lad whose next 
Communion will seem like a First Communion, it is so long 
since his last. 

"The time away isn't important. I will personally guaran- 
tee that your Confession will take no longer because of the 
time away. I will personally guarantee that your time away 
will not make your Confession harder, and I will back that 
guarantee! 

"To any man within sound of my voice or to any man 
who carries my message to the man who can keep me hear- 
ing his confession for longer than three minutes, I offer a 
case of beer! Three minutes! It doesn't matter if it has been 
three days, three years, or thirty years a case of beer if I 
keep you longer than three minutes for your full Confes- 
sion!" 

The bustle of interest became laughter, and Lynch let it 
swell and die before he went on> his voice pulling every man 
close to him through the public address system: 

"Okay, you're all set Mission means Mercy of God. God 
the Good Shepherd. If you haven't been close to Godyou're 
the guy God wants. At least six priests are here always, at 
your service, to answer your questions, solve your problems, 
hear your confessions and give your God to you. There will 
be more if you need them. 

"This is a Confession drive. This is a Communion drive. 

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Father Cyclone 

Make it a hundred per center, for Jesus Christ. God bless 
you always and keep you smiling." 

That first night, Father Yarwood himself gave them the 
lesson, and it was Father Byrne who led them in the Rosary, 
and the moment he stepped before the microphone, the rain 
came down with renewed vigor. Men ducked their heads 
down to protect their faces from the pelting sting of it. 

Lynch went up to the kneeling priest, signaled him to 
move away from the microphone, and when he was out of its 
range, whispered, "Johnny, don't kneel facing them. Kneel 
with your back to them." 

"You're crazy!" Byrne said. "If I do that, Til be outside the 
canvas altogether." 

"Sure. And you'll give them a good example because you'll 
be out in the rain as much as they are." 

"Yeah, and I'll get very wet," Byrne snapped. "They're 
wearing ponchos. I'm wearing a cassock." 

"But can't you see how much more important that makes 



"No I can't," Byrne said. "But if that's the way you want 
it, I guess that's the way it's gotta be." 

"It's the way I think it should be," Lynch corrected him, 
refusing the suggestion that he had issued an order. 

Father Byrne shrugged, knelt out in the rain and began 
the Rosary. 

For the three days of the division Mission on Santo it 
rained . , . rained as it can rain only in the South Pacific. 
Sometimes, during the daytime, steamy heat replaced the 
interminable rain, and sometimes the sun slunk behind a 
heat haze which was infinitely worse than a direct glare. 

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Father Cyclone 

But at night, it rained. 

Yet, each succeeding night of the three-day Mission, more 
and more men jammed themselves into the division theater; 
some of them even squatted in the mud of the aisles, using 
their ponchos as cover and mat. 

The division chaplains all took turns preaching, teaching 
the lessons of the Mission, spending long hours inside the 
improvised confessional boxes because long, long lines of 
men formed outside them. Every priest did what he could 
to make the Mission a tremendous success. 

But it was Father Lawrence Lynch, in his element with 
all the tremendous volume of detail, always ready to talk 
with the men, always where he was most wanted, inex- 
haustible, patient, yet seeming to burn with inner fire when 
he talked to them, who captured their imaginations, who 
made them think. 

He spoke intimately of Christ. 

"He was a soldier, too. His whole life was a successful 
campaign. He was thorough, tactical, tremendously ener- 
getic and victorious. 'Learn of Me. . . . Be you imitators of 
Me. . . . Follow Me. . . / So He invites us to ally ourselves 
with Him, to join our weakness to His endless strength. 

"Follow Him through that final battle, the Bataan wherein 
He gave up His life to save us, so we would not die forever 
. . . that defeat and death from which He rose again, Victor 
over evil and death itself. 

"As any good soldier shoulders his gun, He carried His 
Cross. That was His weapon in His battle for the triumph. 
His feet kept sliding, slithering over the slippery surfaces of 
the cobblestones of the streetglossed over with His own 

215 



Father Cyclone 

blood. Like our men, slogging in steaming jungle lands, His 
heels skidded on the greasy clots of blood until He fell 
sprawling out beneath that cross in utter weariness. 

"When you put on your steel helmet, or adjust its biting 
edge on your forehead, think of the helmet He wore. It was 
green too, green as o.d. paint. It covered His entire Head, 
circling it about like our own steels; only where our iron hats 
shield off pain, His helmet of green thorns dug into His 
skull with all those stabbing points like the thousand splinters 
of searing metal a personnel bomb scatters into a man's 
brain. 

''When your fighting clothes stiffen with sweat and dust 
and stink and itch and chafe and encumber you, think of the 
Soldier Christ, straggling along in the clutter of torn rags 
clotted with His blood and sweat and the dust of the way. 

"Think of Him as He took the hill of Victory and Death. 
There He was struck with the mortal blow. They hoisted 
Him up. He was thrown against the heavens such as a body 
of many another fighter has been suddenly struck, kicked 
and bounced upwards with the force of impact of pain 
and hate. There He hung, streaming blood in His pain, 
spread out against the sky on His huge, tilting cross. Then 
they drove a bayonet through His heart! 

"Through it all, unto the Divine death itself, there stood 
by Him His Mother. Like those other marvelously heroic 
women of America, our nurses, she watched and soothed 
His dying moments; she cared for His dear dead Body when 
He chose to yield up the ghost. As she prepared the Body 

216 



Father Cyclone 

of her Boy for burial, she was consoled because she knew 
that death was not the end. 

"That heartbroken afternoon she knew that the battle was 
won, since here was proof of the greatest love of liberty, the 
liberty He died to give us, the liberty of being the sons of 
God. She whispered again His own dear words: 'Greater 
love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for 
his friends/ 

"We are His friends. He gave His life for us; we at least 
can live for Him. There is nothing we suffer He has not al- 
ready suffered for us. He knows life and knows death too. 
He knew it to conquer it. We, in our appointed sphere of 
soldiery, elbow death, stare it in the face, knowing that 
Christ is near us, teaching us to be like Him, to act like Him. 
. "For the present, He says to you: 'Come to me, you that 
labor and are heavily burdened and I will refresh you/ For 
the future, listen while He says: 1 am the Resurrection and 
the Life/ 

"That is how to act like God. 

"God bless you and deliver you from evil always/* 



Night after night, men formed themselves into long lines 
for Confession. Many kept a wary eye on their watches, the 
memory of that offer of a case of beer tantalizingly before 
them, but Father Lynch kept his boast: no man was in his 
confessional longer than three minutes. 



217 



Father Cyclone 

The other priests followed the cue he had thrown them, 
and men who had given no thought to Confession for years, 
got into the fast moving lines. Some were sheepish at first, 
but found themselves in and out of the improvised boxes so 
fast that they knew only that they had been to Confession 
and had received Absolution. 

It was natural that many waited until the last night. Fore- 
seeing this, Lynch had arranged that all eight priests of the 
division were on hand for the lines which formed, dimin- 
ished, formed again. 

Lt. Col. Hart and Lt. Col. Claire were among those who 
had waited. Now, watching the endless procession of lines, 
Hart suggested: "What about a game of pinochle? That 
looks like at least a couple of hours. " 

"Sure," Claire agreed. "Get Frank to make a third while I 
rustle up some beer. I'm in no hurry, and it's only fair to give 
the kids a break." 

"Big heart!" Hart grinned. "But this is one time you're not 
pocketing my dough. Meet you under the cover back of the 
altar." 

At eleven o'clock, it was he who went to reconnoiter. 
"We'll be here all night if we don't get in line," Hart told 
them. "Looks like eight thousand of the eight thousand 
Catholics in the 27th have decided to go to Confession . . . 
and every one of 'em's picked tonight." 

They took their places in the moving lines where rank 
gave them no precedence. 

Hart got into the line leading to Lynch's box. When he 
had finished his Confession and received Absolution, he was 

218 



Father Cyclone 

amazed to hear the priest say, behind his opaque screen: 
"It's Colonel Joe, isn't it?" 

"Yes, Father," Hart said. 

"Your breath smells good," Lynch chuckled. 

Hart was embarrassed. "We played pinochle while we 
waited. It's a dry game without beer." And then he had an 
idea and leaned forward to whisper. "Say, Father, you've 
been at it quite a while. I don't suppose . . . you wouldn't 
like . . " 

"I certainly would," Lynch said, "but only if you can snag 
eight cans and if you get 'em here before midnight." 

"You got a deal, Father. Ten minutes?" 

"Ten minutesin back of this confessional," Lynch said. 

It was exactly ten minutes later to the second when Lynch 
stepped out of the sizzling, narrow box and faced the long 
lines of men still waiting in the rain. His cassock clung to 
him, and sweat had wilted the white collar of it which was 
the symbol of his order. 

"Say, fellows," he raised his voice and heads swung around 
to face him. "How about giving the priests a ten-minute 
recess? They've been at it a good many hours. What do you 
say?" 

The shout which answered him was vociferous. 

"Thanks. I knew you'd feel that way. Next man in each 
line, step into the box and tell Father to come back here to 

99 

me. 

Lt. Col. Joseph Hart was far more concerned with his 
pinochle losses that night than with the thought of that small 
kindness to the eight priests whose parched throats ached 

219 



Father Cyclone 

from long horns of low-voiced talk and prayer. He accepted 
their thanks negligently after all, it was little enough he 
could do and it caused him no trouble. He knew he had 
brought them a bit of refreshment and relaxation; he had 
delivered the beer and forgotten it. Later he was to remem- 
ber it. 



Father John Byrne was utterly miserable. Stretched out on 
his cot, suffering all the miseries of a head cold, his nose was 
stuffed, his eyes watered, his head ached, and he sneezed, 
or wanted to, every few minutes. He should be in hospital, 
he told himself. He was sure he had a temperature; it was an 
effort to move, but at least here he had the advantage of be- 
ing alone with his misery. Sometimes he dozed, but mostly 
he tried to sneeze. 

He wasn't hungry; hadn't been for two days. He didn't 
want anything . . . except to be left alone. When the half 
door of his tent opened and slammed, it made his head hurt, 
but he closed his eyes tight, deciding to ignore whoever had 
been so inconsiderate as to intrude on his privacy. He kept 
his head turned to the wall-though that was the side which 
was most stuffed and he wanted to turn it to clear it. He 
even pretended to be asleep, hoping whoever it was would 
become discouraged and leave. 

220 



Father Cyclone 

But nothing happened, and at last, curiosity got the better 
of him and he turned. 

Father Lawrence Lynch was stretched out on his camp 
chair, legs before him, his dark eyes studying his muddy 
boots, his arms folded across his breast. His poncho hung 
over the door, making a pool of dirty water where it dripped 
to the floor. 

"Feeling kinda low, Johnny?" Lynch asked sympathet- 
ically. 

"Go away," Father Byrne snuffled. 

"Sure. In a minute, but I've got to tell this to somebody. 
And you'll appreciate it." 

"Go away," Byrne said again. "Go pick on somebody your 
size. I'm no hero. Never wanted to be no hero." 

"I'm sorry about the cold, Johnny," Lynch said. "But 
surely you can see how important it was?" 

"I asked you real nice. Go away." Byrne managed to get 
a veiled threat into it; he turned and faced the wall again. 

"I'm going," Lynch said. "But you gotta listen first. This 
one is on me and it's a corker." 

"If it'll make you go, tell it, but fast, I wanna sleep." 

"It's about that case of beer I offered. Remember?" 

"How could I forget?" Byrne demanded, turning again. 
"You ought to be black-listed. Making that kinda deal for a 
confession." 

"It'd almost be worth it," Lynch laughed. "I got a guy to- 
day hasn't been to Confession for twelve yearseven though 
I lost the case of beer to get him!" He laughed again, his 
shoulders shaking. "A pal of his brought him to me made me 

221 



Father Cyclone 

hear him right in the open in the rain where he could watch 
and time me. When it was over, he claimed the case of 
beer." 

"Nuts/' Byrne snorted. "You never kept a guy more than 
three minutes in your life. You wouldn't know what to say!" 

"Four minutes and a quarter the soldier timed me out/' 
Lynch said. "Of course, I had to take his word, but I guess he 
was right at that. The guy I heard . . . he took up the time. 
He stuttered!" 

Byrne couldn't resist a grin. "Serves you right. Now, all we 
need for poetic justice is you can't rustle the beer!" 

"Oh, we'll get it all right," Lynch said. 

"You cut out that toe stuff," Byrne snapped thickly. "It's 
your pigeon and you're stuck with it. You leave me out. I 
got nothing to do with you or it." 

"But you've got a pal in the Navy . . /' 

"And leave my friends out too. You go get your own 
friends; leave mine be." 

"Okay. If that's how you feel/' Lynch said. "I just thought 
you'd like some of the credit." 

"No. No. And double NO," Byrne sneezed. "I got all the 
credit I want. It was your idea the men had to have an ex- 
ample, but I got the cold, not you. Go away." 

"If my Mom was around, she'd fix you up the wierdest 
concoction you ever tastedhot lemon and sugar laced heav- 
ily with rum. Then she'd smother you with blankets, and in 
no time, you'd be all set. Want another blanket, Johnny?" 

"No. Go away," Byrne repeated savagely. "I'm asking you 
nice for the last time." 

222 



Father Cyclone 

"When you get back to New York, will you go see my 
Mom?" 

The sudden shift made Father Byrne look up. "Huh? 
What's that for?" 

"You'll like Mom. You'll like Pop, too. And the kids. Will 
you promise to go see them?" 

Father Byrne was sitting up now, feet on the floor, his 
misery forgotten as he stared at his visitor. "All right, Larry. 
What's up?" 

"The general called a full staff meeting today. I thought 
you'd like to know." 

"Like that!" Byrne said, starting to reach for his socks. "I 
gotta get over this cold right quick. Look, don't tell any- 
body . . ." 

"Get back there," Lynch said, shoving him down flat. 
"Why d'you think I took the trouble to bring you a sample 
of Mom's concoction?" He reached deep into his pocket and 
pulled out a bottle; he poured a dark brown mixture into a 
tin cup and handed it to Byrne. "Drink it down fast," he 
ordered. "It's not near as hot as it should be." 

Father Byrne pulled back, refusing it, but it was forced 
to his lips. "Drink it, I said," Lynch ordered. "I got your 
friend over at the naval depot to fix it for you and if you 
don't drink it, I'll tell him." 

Father Byrne swallowed it because he had no choice. 
When it was down, he gagged and shuddered. "That . . . 
that's awful!" he choked. "Gimme some waterquick." 

"Certainly not," Lynch said smugly. "You want to spoil all 
my hard work? Now, turn over and go to sleep." Another 
blanket fell on him, but as Father Byrne started to protest 

223 



Father Cyclone 

again, Ly^ch said: "Slong/' and the door slammed after 
him. 

The sick man lay still, forgetting even the heat of the extra 
blanket as he tried to evaluate the news he had heard, but 
before he could explore it thoroughly, he was in a deep, rest- 
ful sleep. 



224 



CHAPTER FIFTEEN 



There was very little to distinguish the humid morning of 
March 25, 1945 from any other morning on "Santo." The sun 
was still buried deep beyond the horizon, shrouded in an 
overhanging mist which enveloped ships rocking at anchor 
in the harbor. In the predawn dimness, the water was smalt 
blue. Later it would become ultramarine, and by noon, clear 
cerulean. It lapped with gentle caress, a tender, swishing 
sound against the sides of the ships; it spoke of indolence, 
ease, peace. 

Those ships were not symbolic of peace but of war. Hun- 
dreds of them rocked at the anchorage: APA's for assault 
troops, cargo, arms for war; AKA's for limited numbers of 
personnel, cargo, arms; KA's for cargo. 

And with unceasing rhythm LCV's moved in and out from 
the makeshift pier, covering the mile to anchorage, carrying 
loads of men in faded blue denims to designated ships with 
clockwork precision. The movement of the smallest assault 

225 



Father Cyclone 

force into action is a major undertaking; the movement of an 
entire army from its staging area to its point of contact with 
the enemy is a gigantic operation. 

Any one of the ships in convoy could be lost; therefore 
every ship must carry its full complement of fighting unit, 
just as each landing craft heading into enemy territory car- 
ries its full tactical strength which makes it a complete group 
ready and equipped to carry on a small guerrilla war of its 
own. 

Personnel must be carefully distributed, with particular 
emphasis on the needs of the men. The ratio of chaplains to 
other officer personnel was far too small to permit two of 
them to a ship, hence on navy ships with regular assigned 
chaplains, army chaplains did not travel and there were 
many ships which carried no chaplain at all. 

Regiments had to be split up for easier distribution, and 
in the shuffle, Father Lawrence Lynch found himself on the 
APA transporting the 3rd Battalion of the 165th Infantry 
Regiment, Lt. Col. Claire in command. 

He watched the men load. Except for their rifles, there 
was nothing about them now of the smart, uniformed soldier. 
Their faded blue denim coveralls were anything but trim; 
the web belt, containing first-aid kit, canteen of water, and 
the deadly trench knife, anything but smart; in the A-bag 
was stored toilet kit, clean underclothing, handkerchiefs; in 
the B-bag, items to be stored in the ship's hold, now an extra 
load to lug aboard. 

Nothing more anonymous than faded blue coveralls; noth- 
ing to distinguish one man from another, officers from men, 
regiment from regiment, company from company, except the 

226 



Father Cyclone 

enigmatic design on the back of each. A letter signified com- 
pany, a number denoted rank. 

OPEBATION ICEBERG. This was "Ix." 

Where would it lead them? Where would it begin? How 
many of them would return? 

No point even hazarding a guess! This was the moment for 
which they had sweated out weary hours, exhausting days, 
unending weeks of preparation. This was the beginning of 
the first leg of their journey to ... where? What? They 
were primed, trained down like champions, keyed to the 
ultimate pitch. No more griping now about nonessentials; 
the griping had to take another form . . . just so long as 
they could gripe! 

As the sun began its rise from the sea bed, mist outlined 
with incredible beauty the swiftly moving prows of ship 
after loaded ship. Each found its appointed place in convoy, 
leaving a churning wake behind as it moved out to the 
deeper indigo of the ocean. 

Men gathered to speculate, to wonder, to whisper ques- 
tions. 

"Keep your shirts on/' Father Lynch told the group sur- 
rounding him in the stern of his APA. "I don't know any 
more than you do. Operation Iceberg! It could be anywhere 
but I bet a nickel we know within the hour." 

He had barely finished when the warning navy whistle 
shrilled and the blare of the public address system drowned 
out all other ship's sounds. 

"Now, hear this. Now, hear this!" Standard navy formula 
for attracting attention, followed immediately by the clear, 
familiar tones of their own Lt Col. Dennis Claire. 

227 



Father Cyclone 

"This is Claire speaking. I know you're all anxious to know 
wliere Operation Iceberg is taking us. Well, men, you'll be 
interestedand proud,, I know to learn that the 27th Di- 
vision has been committed, along with several other di- 
visions, to the most important spot in the whole Pacific 
campaign." He paused, to give them time to digest it "Our 
target, men, is ... OKINAWA!" Once again that dramatic 
pause. 

"Some of you may not know what that means. Well, here 
it is: Okinawa is one of the Ryukyu Islands, and the Ryu- 
kyus are just about 400 miles southwest of the mainland of 
Japan!" 

The instance of silence was followed by a combination of 
shouts, whistles, yells of relief from the tension of uncer- 
tainty. 

Claire continued: "Starting within two hours, and for the 
balance of this trip, you will be briefed on everything we 
know about Okinawa. You will be kept informed, as much as 
possible, of plans and details of Operation Iceberg, how the 
campaign is to be conducted, and the part you and your 
company will play in it. 

"You will be issued an orientation pamphlet immediately. 
Study it carefully . . . all of it. Learn the words in it they 
may help to save your life. Learn the geography of the is- 
land you'll find in it ... this may also help to save your 
life. Don't waste time now; study the pamphlet and the other 
details you will be given to learn. 

"Remember, men, this is the closest any army unit has 
drawn to Japan. I don't think the Japanese will like it one 
bitl But it shows the confidence the high command has 

228 



Father Cyclone 

placed in the 27th Division!" He gave them a moment for 
another shout before he went on: "Study your pamphlet 
and in that way, begin on the campaign immediately! 

"All officers will report to me at once in the Ward Room. 
That is all." 

By the time the convoy made rendezvous at a tiny 
U-shaped atoll called Ulithi, every soldier had memorized 
each one of the twenty-two possible plans of operation for 
the invasion and taking of Okinawa. 

Some of the ships lay at anchor two days, some three, 
others longer, depending on which were sent in first, and 
during those days, chaplains, ferried in water taxis, made it 
a point to visit every ship which carried none. Catholic chap- 
lains, in particular, visited those ships whose chaplain was 
non-Catholic in order that the men on them might go to 
Confession and hear Mass. 

Few men recalled details of the landing on Okinawa. In 
many ways it was no different from other landings, except 
that it was Easter Sunday, 1945, and it had been more ter- 
rible, bloodier, more costly in men and equipment. But the 
beachhead was secured, and following the stagger system 
worked out to insure against troopships becoming open 
targets for enemy planes, the ships came to anchor within a 
mile of the beach to discharge their complement of men, 
leaving immediately after the last man dropped over the 
side. 

Then came orders for the scattered companies and bat- 
talions of the 165th to meet at the assembly area, to become 
a regiment once more. The rendezvous marked the end of a 

229 



Father Cyclone 

long, hot, sticky inarch straight across the center of the is- 
land, over narrow, dirt crossroads running from east to west, 
roads which skirted the great mountain range and jungle in 
the middle of the island. 

It had been a long time since they left "Santo." It was good 
to greet old friends, shout familiar names, pummel old bud- 
dies. Lt Col. Hart watched his men, gauging their temper. 
The smooth machine of war which had been welded on 
"Santo" was functioning perfectly, every man in his ap- 
pointed place, or at least standing close to where he should 
be. 

Every man? The executive officer frowned as he realized 
suddenly that Father Lynch had crossed in front of him three 
times, going from one small group to another and being 
hailed at each with enthusiasm. His coat had a strange sag- 
ging look, and Hart was thunderstruck as he saw the priest 
dig into the deep pockets and dole out chocolate bars to the 
men. He wondered where Lynch had gotten them. 

He and Dennis Claire had discussed the remote chance of 
getting chocolate bars for the men, and each of them had 
made exhaustive inquiry on the ship on which they traveled, 
with no success. 

It was no longer coincidence that Lynch crossed in front 
of him, Hart decided, as he watched soldiers accept grate- 
fully the refreshment handed them by the priest, while his 
mouth watered for it. 

Lynch was in front of him for the seventh time when Hart 
snapped, "Father Larry!" 

"You want me, Colonel Joe?" 

"I want to know what gives?" Hart said, but the priest 

230 



Father Cyclone 

opened his eyes in bewilderment. "Don't give me that inno- 
cent look. Where in hell did you get them?" 

"I don't understand," Lynch grinned. "Is anything 
wrong?" 

"All right since you insist on playing games. Am I a step- 
child or just an orphan? Don't I rate? I'm just another guy 
and I still want to know where you stole them." 

"Poor Colonel Joe/' Lynch said. "You sound thirsty! Your 
voice sounds sorta hoarse, like you needed something to 
drink, something cool and refreshing." 

Hart laughed. "All right, Father. You don't have to turn 
the knife; just take it out. I'm all through with it. Go along 
with you and make believe I didn't ask." 

Lynch nodded judiciously. "You are thirsty! Beer, now. I 
hear it's right good for thirst." 

"You . . . you . . ." Hart gagged, his face red. He took 
a deep breath and changed what he almost said. "Father, 
don't you know it's a mortal sin to torture a man, especially 
when he's down already?" 

Lynch chuckled, reaching deep into the voluminous 
pocket. "Yep, guess you're right at that, Colonel Joe." His 
hand came up ... and in it a can of beer. "I owe you this 
one," he grinned. 

"Where . . . where ... for the luwa God! Where'd you 
get it?" He stared at the can of beer in his hand as though 
he feared it would vanish. "You . . . you don't owe me . . ." 
His protest was halfhearted, but he had to make it. 

"Remember the Mission on Santo? You saved eight lives 
that night," Lynch recalled. 

"I searched every ship ... I tried to get one sip of beer 

231 



Father Cyclone 

. . . I'd have sworn there wasn't one drop of it within a 
thousand miles of here or Ulithi!" But Lynch wasn't there. 
He had moved on to the group of men who waited, hoping 
against hope that the deep pockets still held enough choco- 
late to go around. Instead Lt. Col. Dennis Claire stood, eyes 
and mouth agape, staring at the can Hart held. 

"Where in merry hell did you get that?" Claire demanded. 
"You've been holding out! You . . ." 

"He gave it to me," Hart said, his head indicating the fig- 
ure of the priest moving with jaunty stride on the other side 
of the road. "Don't ask me where he got it. He says he owes 
it to me. He . . ." Suddenly Hart's attitude changed. "So 
okay. Don't ask where he got it. Thank God for itand open 
it* 

Claire punctured the can with his trench knife, extended 
it to Hart, but he shook his head. "No. You take first crack 
at it, but mind you Dinny, take it easy." And as Claire lifted 
the can to his lips, Hart added, with a shake of his head: 
"Like you said once we got us a chaplain!" 



The first mission assigned the 165th Infantry Regiment on 
Okinawa was to protect the center-island peninsula from 
air raids, paratroop landings, and counter beach landings by 
the Japanese. Another milk run! Another dead end! Three 
days of nothing to do; well, practically nothing. Leave it to 
them to draw a blank while other outfits saw action, had all 
the fun. 

. 232 



Father Cyclone 

At last, they were ordered to move up to their assigned 
positions for attack. Their objective: Take Machinato Air 
Field. 

Between them and the airfield were mountain fastnesses 
filled with ridges, ranges, caves behind which Japanese snip- 
ers, sharpshooters and machine gunners waited; other ranges 
sheltered the heavy artillery. 

The front line faced that series of fortified positions. It 
was their job to clean out the nests that protected the airfield 
for land-based planes before the 165th Infantry Regiment 
of the 27th Division could hope to complete its mission. 

As long as that airfield remained in enemy hands, Amer- 
ican forces were at the mercy of the Japanese by night. 
Heavy artillery could pound and pound and pound, secure 
in the knowledge that no aircraft carrier would be sacrificed 
to kamikaze fighters. 

Machinato indispensable to the Japanese, essential to the 
Americans. 

The Japanese had worked out a neat system of counter- 
attack: beginning with the first sudden black darkness of 
night came bombardment, centered on the target and sus- 
tained until the first glint of dawn lit the skies. 

During the day, inch by inch, foot by foot, cave by cave 
the American front line advanced southward. No man knew 
where he might be when night fell and the bombardment 
started. Every man learned to keep one eye on the sun; he 
needed no order to begin digging as soon as it began its dip 
toward the horizon. There, in the tiny hole, he would sweat 
out the hell-on-earth of darkness for one night, unless it hap- 
pened to be in the line of fire for the night. 

233 



Father Cyclone 



John Bullion, Allan Hall, and Rube Henson considered 
their foxhole comparatively cosy, though it was on C hill, 
and their mission was to guard the command post. 

They knew the score. They were from the intelligence and 
reconnaissance platoon, and they knew with what uncanny 
accuracy the enemy could pick out the C.P. Their radio kept 
them in close touch with the observation post, just forward, 
but it was the C.P. behind them they had to worry about. 

None of them would willingly admit to being scared; after 
all, luck had a lot to do with it. All the same, the record of 
direct hits on foxholes manned by C.P. guards was uncom- 
fortably high. 

"I got a idea if I knew how to pray, maybe I'd do some 
right now," John Buhlan said, eyes alert, ears aching from 
listening for the first whistling shell, every sense wondering 
where it would land. 

"That makes it unanimous/' Allan Hall said grimly. "But 
all . . ." He stopped abruptly, gun at the ready. 

"Don't shoot/' Father Lynch slid down into the hole with 
them, and they stared at him as they might have stared at a 
ghost. Time was running out; the red orb of the sun had al- 
most touched the sea, When it did, darkness would follow 
suddenly, like a light going out. The show would begin . . . 
and this man had no right to be here! "Thought you'd like 
some chocolate and smokes," Lynch said, digging into those 
ever-sagging pockets. 

234 



Father Cyclone 

"You better get outta here, Padre/' Rube Henson's Ten- 
nessee drawl was more pronounced because of his fear. 
"Hit's gonna get hottern hell 'round these parts right soon." 

"Scared?" Lynch asked. 

"Green!" Rube admitted. 

"You too, Johnny?" John Buhlan simply nodded, but Allan 
Hall tried to grin; it wasn't successful. 

"Like Rube says, Padre. You get back fast." 

The priest glanced around the foxhole, at the machine 
gun, at the gun's crew, at the small radio. "Don't suppose you 
brought any of your favorite pin-up girls out here with you, 
so I brought you one." 

It was Rube Henson who laughed. "You want we should 
bring our wimmen into this?" 

"This one is right handy to have around," Lynch smiled. 
He gave each one of them a small square picture, a copy of 
the Hodegetria, and ignored their varying responses as 
he said: "Her name is Our Lady of Perpetual Help and 
that's a name she said we were to call her. She's a sure bet in 
a jam, and I figured since you're in a bit of a jam right now, 
you'd better have her in your corner." 

Allan Hall shifted uneasily, his eyes going from the priest 
to the fast disappearing sun. "Padre, this crew . . . we ain't 
none of us ... you go better go back, sir. And what I was 
trying to say is, we're none of us Catholics." 

"Did I ask you?" Lynch grinned. "Bet you she won't 
either. The letter on your dog tag is too small for her to 
read, and anyhow, if you get her working, looking after you, 
she won't have time to look at the dog tag at all! Even if she 

235 



Father Cyclone 

did, 111 bet she wouldn't care a hoot. All you've got to do is 
to tell her you're in a tight spot and . . ." 

"So they think well get it tonight for sure?" John Buhlan 
asked, his worst fears confirmed. 

"No use kidding ourselves/' Lynch said. "They seem to 
come closer every night; almost like somebody is giving them 

, 99 

a tip. 

"Or maybe somebody just puts a pin on a map and says 
here's where the C.P. is tonight/' Allan Hall said bitterly. 

Lynch nodded. "That's why I figured it might be a good 
idea to have Our Lady standing by. All you've got to do is 
ask her to keep her eyes on you. Just talk to her Jike she's 
somebody you know and trust. YouVe got to believe in her, 
and 111 bet each one of you a nickel she won't let you down." 

"You got a bet, Brooklyn/* John said. 

"You better get outta here!" Rube warned. "Git-goin', 
Padre. We got enough to do without worryin' about you." 

^Right," Lynch said, climbing up the side of their hole. 
"But remember what I said. Have faith in her, and just leave 
it to her. She'll take care of you." 

The first whine-boom of a shell falling some distance away 
warned him that he had been almost too late. As he crawled 
on his belly, trying to reach the command post, it made him 
think of the many times when, as a child, he had crawled 
away from the cemetery, his hand clutching tired flowers 
taken from a grave to place before the small statue of the 
Virgin in his room. He remembered how the votive candle 
made the small figurine look alive; and his lips moved in 
prayer while his knees moved over the rough, muddy 
ground. 

236 



Father Cyclone 

"Beloved Mother of Perpetual Help ask your Son for this 
great favor. Bring those three boys through this night safely. 
Let me give to them who have no faith a testimony of my 
faith in you and your powers of intercession with your Be- 
loved Son. He can refuse you nothing. Help me to help 
them. Watch over them through what is to come . . . keep 
them safe, and whole . . /* 

His prayer was cut through by the screaming shell, and he 
knew he had to hurry. Darkness was deep and full over the 
land, except where it was rent by streaks of sharp blue light 
when shells exploded and burst 

All hell had broken loose. Behind him, Father Lynch saw 
that shell after shell landed closer and closer to the nerve 
center of the unit the command post and closer still to the 
foxhole that guarded it. 



237 



CHAPTER SIXTEEN 



Inching his way along the muddy, broken ground, Father 
Lawrence Lynch became disoriented. He belonged at the 
Aid Station, but where was it? He was behind the barrier 
now, and as he hurried forward in the blackness, he bumped 
with furious impact into another man- They spoke simul- 
taneously, breathlessly. 

*Tm sorry," Lynch said, "I didn't see , . " 

"Goddamn it!" Lt GoL Hart snapped. "Where in hell you 
going?" 

The cacophony was deafening. The enemy had found its 
target for tonight; they had located the command post and 
trained heavy artillery exactly on the mark. 

"Looks like they picked us dead to rights this time," Lynch 
said. "It'll be a tough night." 

"Not a doubt of it," Hart said. "Get back to the Aid Sta- 
tion and stay there! You hear me, Father? Get back where 
you belong" Shells were bursting rapidly now. 

238 



Father Cyclone 

"Seems to me you better get a move on yourself, Colonel 
Joe. This one will be no picnic." 

"That's one reason I want you at the Aid Station. Not many 
of them will come out alive, but those that do will need 
help." 

"Right. So kneel down and I'll give you General Absolu- 
tion. You'll be glad to have it before this night's over." 

Hart knelt on the ground and began to unfasten the safety 
catch of his helmet as another shell whistled and exploded, 
spattering them with mud. 

"Don't take it off, Joe," Lynch stopped him. "If Jesus Christ 
Himself got caught in this thing, He'd keep His own helmet 
on. The Lord will understand." He raised his right hand in 
benediction, but only part of the words could be heard. 

"Ego te absolve* db omnibus censuris et peccatis, in nomine 
Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, Amen'' 

"Thanks, Father." Hart scrambled to his feet as another 
shell landed. Father Lynch turned, but the officer grabbed 
his arm. He had to shout to make himself heard. "Now, where 
the devil you think you're going. Get to the aid station. 
That's an order!" 

"Yes, sir," Lynch said, saluting. "Okay, Colonel, but just 
you see you don't pick up any of that shrapnel they're 
bandying about. We need you around these parts!" 



239 



Father Cyclone 



In the foxhole where the three men manned a machine 
gun with orders to defend the command post from direct at- 
tack, things were getting hot. Each screaming shell ex- 
ploded closer than the last, and the men cringed back as it 
passed directly overhead, waiting for it to drop. 

"God Almighty! That one was close!" John Buhlan 
breathed. 

"The gun's getting hot," Hall said. 

"Us had oughta get outta here/' Rube Henson shouted. 
"Ain't no use stayin' jest ter git killed." 

"No. Orders are we stay. Look outl Here she comes!'* 

This one exploded so close, their hole shook, and dirt 
spattered down on them. BuMan cursed with monotonous 
regularity. "Damn them to hell, Damn . . ." 

"We got us all the hell we want right here/' Allan said. 
"There's a cave back of us about eight feet. Nellie's got to 
cool off; if we get her in there, we can hold off anybody tries 
to move up. And she's getting too hot to handle now." 

"We cain't make it nohow. Dey be t'rowin' the book at 
us'n" 

"The blasted, dirty bastards," Buhlan said. 'It's Nellie they 
want. They know we got 'em covered." 

"Should lift in a few minutesif my watch is right. That'll 
give us just two minutes," Allan figured. "Time enough to 
make a run for the cave." 

240 



Father Cyclone 

"You-all done change yo* mine 'bout movin* out?" Rube 
asked. 

"Can't defend the C.P. if we're dead ducks. And like 
Allan said, Nellie's got to cool. Hey! It's lifted. Let's get 
going." 

Without a waste motion, John lifted the radio, Allan the 
machine gun, and Rube the ammunition and everything else 
he could grab, and they scrambled madly out of their fox- 
hole, running for the cover of the cave behind them as 
enemy machine gunners sent a fusillade after them, missing 
them by inches . . . probably a signal to the artillery, be- 
cause they were barely within the cave when they saw their 
foxhole become a mound of rubble in the glare of a bursting 
shell. 

"Jesus H. Christ!" John screamed. Rube, his eyes wide, 
said fervently, "Hell-damn!" and began to distribute the 
items he had salvaged. 

As they moved deeper into the cave, John whistled. "Holy 
cats! Lookit. We're right in with the other zombies!" 

Their refuge was an elaborate burial vault, lined with 
beautiful carved shelves around the walls. On these were 
stacked ornate urns magnificently scrolled and gorgeously 
painted. 

"Dey ain't gonna hafta bury us'n," Rube shivered. "Dey 
is on'y . . ." The rest of his words were blotted out in a 
burst that spattered dirt, debris and shrapnel into their cave. 
The concussion threw all three of them hard against the 
wall, knocking over gold urns that held bones and ashes. 

"They hit the gun! They hit the gun!" John screamed, 
running to it and beginning to collect the scattered parts 

241 



Father Cyclone 

for all the world as if lie could put it together again, while 
he shouted over and over again: "They hit the gunl They 
hit the gun!" 

"My shoulder!" Allan moaned, "It ... got me ... in 
my shoulder." 

The moan brought John to his senses. "Lemme seel" he 
commanded, beginning the search for blood and shrapnel. 
He lifted Allan's arm, moved it gently and dropped it. 
"You're okay," he grunted, and turned toward Rube, aware 
of his silence. 

The Tennessean stood against the wall, mouth open at a 
grotesque angle, eyes terrified. A dreadful, choking sound 
issued from his throat as he tried desperately to speak. He 
pointed helplessly toward his jaw. John stared, but sud- 
denly, the unintelligible sound made sense to Allan. The 
force of the blast had shocked Rube into a temporary lock- 
jaw. 

"Sock him! Sock him, John!" Allan shouted. "Sock him 
hard on the jaw." 

John stood uncertain until Rube himself pointed to the 
spot; he obeyed. Rube grunted his thanks as his mouth ad- 
justed itself. 

"We better call C.P.," Allan said, trying to work the radio. 
Another blast hit the cave entrance. When the smoke and 
dust had cleared, he added: "Guess C.P. will just have to 
worry along without this section of the platoon. Antenna's 
gone. She's out" 

"Looks like the bastards know we made it in here," John 
said, teeth chattering. "We better dig in . . ." But they 
could not seem to dig in far enough to get away from the 

242 



Father Cyclone 

mortar nest which pelted them, just out of rifle range. "If we 
could get Nellie working . . ." 

"Seems like as if that Lady Brooklyn wus tellin' us 'bout 
is gonna git on de job, she better git mighty fast/' 

"Huh?" Allan looked up, startled. "Say, that's right. But 
he said we ... we got to ask her. Didn't he, John?" 

"Don't look at me/' John said. "I don't know nothing about 
praying." 

"Brooklyn ain't say nothin* 'bout no pray!" Rube said, 
angry. "He say you gotta talk t' the dame. He say like she's 
somebody we know. I ain't doin' no prayin' for nobody." He 
pulled the badly wrinkled picture out of his pocket, looked 
at it earnestly and said, simply, "Ma'am, if you-alTs alistenin' 
like Brooklyn done say you is, we's in a jam right this min- 
ute. If you-all's gonna do somethin' about it, hit better be 
right now on account o'them Nips is sure raisin' all heU wit 

> 99 

usn. 

John nodded. "That's it, Lady. You heard him. Like Rube 
says, if you're gonna be in our corner, you gotta hurry up." 

Allan stared at them both a moment, shook his head and 
looked up at the cracked roof of the cave. "Padre said we 
can't lose, if you back us," he said. "We mean it, Lady. He 
said we hadda ask you. Well, we're asking you right now. 
We're in a bad spot and we need help." 

"We sure is, Ma'am. You-all better do somethin' right fast, 
else we is gonners." 

The next shell came at that moment. It landed just beyond 
the cave's entrance, blocking them in completely. 



243 



Father Cyclone 



Usually, when the night's work was almost done, when the 
first pink threads of light crept over the bottom of the world 
to throw a glow at the dingy sky, the salvos began to slow 
down . , . until that token shot came . . . one final de- 
fiance before the big guns slunk back into hiding to await 
the darkness that gave them courage to prowl again. 

Nothing remained of the command post but a flattened 
heap and a wide, ugly gash in the hill. On another hill site, 
defiladed even from possible ricocheting of shrapnel, was 
the aid station, a humming beehive of activity. Litter bear- 
ers, leg muscles protesting, climbed and reclimbed the 
escarpment, going slowly, carefully with their burdens, 
stumbling blindly with exhaustion on the way down. 

Inside the blacked-out tent doctors worked furiously, 
nurses moved fast and faster. In and out, sometimes nurse, 
sometimes litter bearer, always priest and chaplain, Father 
Larry Lynch seemed to be everywhere. 

A private had given him his own coverall, mud-spattered 
and bloodstained, when the priest's blue denim shirt was 
torn from his back in the night; but men who felt his hand 
on their foreheads and heard his soft, tender voice recog- 
nized the square face under the layers of dirt and grime, 
which hid the tired lines etched deep around his eyes but 
not the famous grin. 

Four litter bearers paused for a smoke. "Hey! Couple of 

244 



Father Cyclone 

you guys. Get out there fast. There's a kid been hit . . ." 
Lynch pointed. 

One of them snarled: "Why in hell don't you get out there 
yourself and see what it's like?" 

"Because I've got work to do in here/' the priest snapped. 
"There's . . ." He stopped and grinned in sympathy. 
"There's a guy I've got to see inside," he explained. 

On a nearby cot a young soldier, face half -hidden by 
bandages, heard and looked up, interested. He recognized 
Lynch and tittered. "Hey, Turk! Pipe this!" he called, and 
his voice carried so that many heads turned to watch and 
listen. 

It was what the litter bearer neededand he played to his 
audience like the trouper he was. "Well, now, do tell! Well, 
bud, visitin' hours don't begin yet. And who the goddam hell 
put you in charge of the litter-bearer detail?" 

A flash of anger blazed in Lynch's eyes, but his voice was 
quiet, controlled. "I ordered you to go get a wounded 
man . . .** 

Another of the men guffawed. "Listen to him! Say, pard, 
who hopped you up? And whoinhell you orderia around?" 

"Atta boy, Mike. 'At's tellin* him," a third man approved. 

Lawrence Lynch deliberately turned his back so that the 
men could see his insignia and calling, and a shout of laugh- 
ter from the cots greeted him. Immediately he realized what 
caused it, and looking into the one good eye of Geof Haggar, 
the boy who had recognized him, he winked. His grin had 
a gamin quality when he again faced the four litter bearers. 
The sick men were enjoying the show; he meant to give 
them their money's worth. 

245 



Father Cyclone 

"Say sirwhen you address an officer!" he ordered. 

"What'd you get permoted to general? Sir!" Turk made 
an expressive noise, and Haggar howled with laughter. 

"Oh, I think captain's good enough/* Lynch snapped, and 
couldn't resist a glance at the laughing men on the cots. A 
doctor came to see what was happening; with him was the 
sergeant whose responsibility was the litter detail. Lynch 
grinned at him. "Hi, Bernie. Where'd you get this choice 
collection?" 

"From the 96th, Father. We hadda borrow *em . , ." 

The man called Turk almost swallowed his cigarette. He 
jumped up. "Gripes! Didja say . . . Is he . . , ? Oh, my 
God!" he ended on a moan. 

Lynch led the roar of laughter, while the litter bearers 
stood stiff. Turk saluted. "I ... I ... Father, I'm sorry . . ." 

Lynch grinned at him. "Forget it, Turk. The joke's on me 
and youVe given these guys the best medicine in the 
world. What about it, fellers?" he turned to ask the cots, and 
was answered by a shout. "So that makes it okay with me. 
Now, what about that boy out there? Come onbut I'd like 
to talk with you boys later," he ended on a laugh, leading 
the way out. 

They couldn't keep up with him as he hurried through 
the sick, gray dawn, deliberately unseeing of the awful 
horrors around him as he searched for the place where one 
foxhole had been. He stumbled over shell craters, yawning 
holes, debris and litter. Here at last, and where it had been 
nothing. But at least no bodies or parts of bodies either. 

His prayer was short as he headed for the blocked cave en- 

246 



Father Cyclone 

trance. "Mother, help. Help me . . . Mary, Mother of God, 
help . . . Lady of Perpetual Help." 

He used hands and keif e to claw through the rubble, call- 
ing to litter bearers to help him dig an opening into the 
cave; he climbed over great rocks and small stones, slipping, 
ripping his coverall and bruising his knees. In the cave's 
dimness he saw them three men huddled close together. 
"Deo Gratias!" he whispered, then raised his right hand in 
the sign of the cross over them. "Benedicat uos omnipotens 
Deus, Pater, et Filius et Spiritus Sanetus, Amen" His dirty 
face, black in the cave's dimness, grinned at them. "What're 
you guys doing? Breaking up housekeeping?" 

Rube Henson untangled himself, moved forward stiffly, 
hand extended. "Here's your nickel, Padre. Been holdin' it 
near two hours now. That Lady of yourn shore was on the 
job all right!" 

Lynch nodded. "I knew she would beif you asked her." 

"We asked her, all right," Allan said. "And, like Rube said, 
she came through. Funny thing, Padre," he said, shaking his 
head, "before . . . heck we were gonners sure. Then the 
shell hit outside there. The Nips kept coming closer and 
closerbut we just sat there smoking." 

"That's right," John said. "We wasn't none of us scared 
after that" 

"I know," Lynch said. "She never let me down either,, All 
you've got to do is ask her and believe in her." His eyes 
wandered around the shambles of the cave, saw battered 
remnants of the machine gun, the radio, the scattered urns 
gleaming and glittering in the rubble, many of them dented, 
most of them emptied of their once-revered contents. 

247 



Father Cyclone 

''You've got the show place of the island here/' he grinned. 
"Bet you re visited by every brass hat in town! They'll want 
to know how you fixed it to keep whole, Take my advice and 
don't bother to police up ... at least till they've seen you." 

He was right. Col. Gerard Kelley, commanding the 165th 
Infantry Regiment, made it a point to visit that cave. He 
looked at the men as beings from another world, living 
ghosts, or-as their buddies preferred-zombies. There was 
no physical explanation of how they escaped with their lives, 
much less with whole bodies, but whenever the subject was 
discussed in their presence, the three men looked at each 
other and said nothing. 

Only once did any of them mention it aloud. Rube startled 
a group of men at mess when, in an unexpected silence, his 
voice was heard with its Tennessee drawl: "All you-all gotta 
do is ask the Padre's Lady. She'll fix it right!" 



The objective of the 165th Infantry Regiment of the 27th 
Division remained Machinato Air Field. Every man knew 
that until it was taken, the terrible, nerve-shattering bom- 
bardment would go on and on and on with only those two- 
minute intervals between salvos while the enemy artillery- 
men reloaded. 

Two minutesbut time enough to switch foxholes, dig 
deeper, run to another cave. Two whole minutes . . . un- 
less of course, the enemy discovered a live shell in his hot 
gun. Then the two-minute respite might be reduced to sec- 

248 



Father Cyclone 

onds during which a live shell might catch an unwary 
American soldier out in the open. 

For eleven cruel days of fighting, the 165th inched for- 
ward. Each afternoon, at the staff meeting called by Col. 
Kelley to plan tomorrow's campaigna plan based on today's 
fighting, last night's bombardment, tonight's possible target 
a different battalion was selected to bear the brunt of the 
next day's assault. 

Always, on the fringe of the planning group, Larry Lynch 
waited, unofficial, tolerated and ignored. But the moment 
decision was reached, the moment he knew which of his 
men faced the fireworks tomorrow, he moved swiftly. 

April 24, 1945 . . . and the job for tomorrow assigned to 
the Third Battalion. By the sound of it, casualties would run 
high. 

Father Lynch waited only long enough to telephone the 
command post of the Third to inform Lt. Col. Claire of his 
impending arrival. His jeep bounced and jounced, but its 
speed was reckless. There was so little time before the bom- 
bardment would commence! 

From one company group to another the jeep moved 
and wherever it stopped, it became an altar, the precious 
altar stone on top of the fiat radiator hood, the priest in front 
of it, men kneeling around it men who might not see to- 
morrow's sunset, receiving General Absolution and their God 
in Holy Communion. 

"Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi, merita beatae Mariae 
Virginia, et omnium sanctorum, quidquid boni feceris, et 
mali sustinueris, sint tibi in remissionem peccatorum, aug- 
mentum gratiae, et praemium vitae aeternae, Amen.' 9 

249 



Father Cyclone 

And because it had become known that wherever the 
chaplain of the 165th Infantry Regiment went to say an eve- 
ning Mass and spend a night of bombardment, there would 
be the battalion scheduled for tomorrow's toughest job, the 
men of the Third Battalion knew even before orders came 
. . . and they were ready. 

When the bombardment started, Father Lynch was near 
the command post, watching, calculating where the shells 
would fall, wondering how much closer they would come to- 
night. Once, he started forward, but Lt Col. Claire grabbed 
his arm and held it. 

"Here! Where you think you're going?** 

"Just out there to that foxhole. There's a guy there I gotta 


see . . . 

"You stay right here where you belong. There's the aid 
station, right behind you. Get to it and stay there!" 

"Goddamn them!" a voice close by snarled. "Seems like 
somebody musta given 'em a tip-off we was gonna go get 'em 
tomorrow." 

"Naw," another voice said. "They just figger we're the best 
outfit in the division so they gotta pick on us." 

"Last night they pounded hell 'n gone out of the 106th. 
The bastards never quit till three o'clock. Hey, anybody 
wanta make book on what time they call quits tonight?" 

"Sure, I'll take four-thirty." 

"They'll get tired and quit 'fore that Gimme midnight/' 

Just beyond the foxhole Lynch had wanted to go to, there 
was a glare and a burst. He made another move forward, 
but Claire's eyes were on him and he stood back, arms folded 
across his chest. 

250 



Father Cyclone 

"Optimist. They never get tired. I want two o'clock/' an- 
other voice said. 

"You got it, Pat." 

"They're driving me nuts!" young, high-pitched, fretful. 
"How much the bastards think we can stand?" 

"Take it easy, Fred/' from one. "Shut up, damn you/' from 
another. 

The shell whizzed so close, they ducked. The sudden, 
quick silence indicated the end of that salvo . . . and 
through it, the piercing scream of a human being fading 
agonizingly in the night. 

"Father! Don't be a damn fool!" Claire clutched the priest's 
arm as he started forward. "If you go out there, you might 
be the next one. We need you right here." 

"The boy is hurt . . . dying. I've got two minutes. Ill 
give him Communion and be back before the next salvo be- 
gins/' 

"Dammit, Father Larry. You heard my orders. The litter 
bearers will bring him in. You belong in the aid station 
where you can take care of all the casualties." 

"You're wasting time, Dinny. That's Peter Sheridan one 
of my boys. I can't let him die without the Blessed Sacra- 
ment." 

"How the hell can you know? It could be . . ." 

"Colonel Claire!" The sergeant crouched at the telephone 
in the command post foxhole held the instrument forward. 
"It's Col. Hart, sir " 

"Right/' Claire said, taking the instrument. 

Lynch glanced at his watch. Thirty seconds wasted! Time 
was running out the precious seconds between salvos. But 

251 



Father Cyclone 

time enough left. He climbed swiftly out of the dugout where 
the command post was located and crawled to the foxhole 
from which the scream had come. He heard and ignored the 
shouts behind him: "Padre! Come back!" Whoever the boy 
was, whatever his religion, he was dying; he needed his 
chaplain . . . and his chaplain hurried to him. Lynch 
jumped into the foxhole; it was Peter Sheridan. 

Father Lynch stood over the dying soldier, the Sacred 
Host between his fingers lifted in benediction. He spoke the 
words; "Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custo . . ." It 
was as far as he got. 

The live shell landed not far from the foxhole where one 
dying and two wounded American soldiers lay. But two of 
its shrapnel fragments landed with terrible accuracy: one 
of them in the back of the chaplain of the 165th Infantry 
Regiment; the other cutting a hole through the protecting 
shield of his helmet , . . cutting through to make a deep, 
ugly hole in his head. 

The scream of the bursting shell was echoed at the com- 
mand post, but no one knew afterwards who had screamed. 

Lt. Col. Claire dropped the telephone receiver, ignoring 
his superior officer at the other end of the line. He reached 
Father Lynch's body almost as it touched the ground. 

Gently, tenderly he forced open the clenched fingers, 
forced them to place the sacred Viaticum on his own lips to 
prevent its desecration. 

The Japs were at it again, but the commander of the Third 
Battalion was as oblivious of the shells as he was of the tears 
on his own cheeks. He lifted the chaplain's body to his 

252 



Father Cyclone 

shoulder, cursing while he prayed, overwhelmed and shat- 
tered by a sense of immediate, personal tragedy, and filled 
with the burning impotence which grips the living when the 
dead were loved. 



253 



(continued from front flap) 

services. It meant loud talking, occas- 
siooal ^law breaking,'^ writing love 
letters for his men to their sweethearts, 
playing poker, and holding Missions 
that kept men coming by the thousands. 

Father Cyclone was indeed a mili- 
tant Catholic ; but he was also eager to 
help men of other faiths follow their 
own desires. He was a man of men and 
a man of God, who was cut down on 
Okinawa by a live shell while admin- 
istering last rites to a dying boy. 

But the legend of his amazing ex- 
ploits did not die. His story is one of 
the most remarkable and inspira- 
tional to come out of the War. What- 
ever your creed, you won't put it down. 



About The Author; Daisy Amoury re- 
fers to herself as a "graduate of the 
New York Herald Tribune" where she 
wrote anything and everything, espe- 
cially human interest. She has had 
stories, articles and columns published 
in Colliers, Coronet and -Gourmet Mag- 
azine. Her travels have taken her all 
over Europe, South America and the 
United States. She has been a producer 
of summer stock and a caterer. It was 
as a staff writer for the "Ave Maria" 
radio program that she first heard of 
Father Lynch. After a small part of his 
story was enacted on that program, she 
realized that the surface had hardly 
been scratched and undertook two 
years of information-gathering and one 
year of writing to put down the full, 
true story. It was one of the most satis- 
fying experiences of her life. 



Printed in U.S.A. 




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