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What Do Prayer, Bolivia, and a Screwdriver Have in Common?

My Husband and sons have served in the military and each has been blesses by the priesthood. 

As the wife of a career Air Force Officer, I and our children spent a great deal of time with our dear husband and father gone fulfilling the military assignments expected of him..

Air Force Wife

As the wife of a career Air Force Officer, I and our children spent a great deal of time with our dear husband and father gone fulfilling the military assignments expected of him.  

He was a radar and communications engineer who spent much time in Central and South America finding, securing, and building radar sites, communications systems, and command and control centers. His time throughout Latin America occurred during our efforts to curb the flow of drugs into our country from 1983 – 1992. 

Dangerous Assignments

These assignments often were dangerous.  It is one of these assignments that I would like to share with you.  At the conclusion of one of David’s six-week assignments in Bolivia, I was washing his clothing used on his trip.  Checking the pocket of a pair of pants before washing them, I came upon a folded piece of paper. 

 Upon examination, I realized it was a letter written to me.  It was the thoughts my husband wrote in the moments he felt sure were the last moments of his life.  Naturally, I quickly sought the story behind the letter and want to share it with you.              

This event happened while flying in a small twin engine Bolivian Air Force plane from La Paz to Cobija, Bolivia. David often worked with the militaries of the Central and South American governments.  Part of this mission was to find an elevated site where a radar and communications site could be established for drug interdiction. 

Landing Gear

While inbound to Cobija, it was discovered the landing gear would not deploy.  Many attempts were made to lower the gears both electrically and manually with only failures.  The two Bolivian Air Force aircrew quickly realized the manual mechanism problem was caused by a metal part that had fallen into the crank gears, jamming them and preventing them from manually cranking the landing gear into place. 

 They also quickly realized they had tools in the belly of the aircraft but nothing in the cabin that could reach the piece of metal.  David was told by the two crew members they expected to do a forced landing with the landing gear only partially deployed.  They stated they expected a potential loss of control upon landing and fire from all the friction with the runway.  He was told to be sure to immediately get out of the aircraft after touchdown due to the expected fire.  Further causing concern was the location.  No local assistance could be expected upon crash landing and little to no emergency medical facilities or personnel were located in Cobija.  It was a grim outlook for the airplane and the three personnel on board. 


It was at this time David began pleading with his Father in Heaven to help him find a way to do what he could to help them land safely.  At the conclusion of his prayer he wrote the note I found in his pocket.  In it he stated how much he loved me and each of our children and that if the worst were to happen he hoped I would somehow find the note.

In it he asked me to know he would be watching our children as they grew and he would be there helping in every way possible.  He stated he felt a feeling of peace after writing the letter to me.  He also felt impressed to begin looking for anything that might work to dislodge the offending piece of fallen metal from the landing gear crank.  He started tearing at the panel on the right side of the airplane, removing it piece by piece with his gloved hands.  Almost immediately, as the second panel came off, he found a screw driver left in the airplane, probably during the original assembly of the airplane many years before.

Landing Safely

With the screwdriver in hand he headed into the cockpit and began digging at the piece of metal lodged in the landing gear crank.  Almost immediately out popped a small nut that had fallen from somewhere in the cockpit.The manual crank then was used and the landing gear deployed successfully.  The plane landed safely and the lives of the crew and David were saved. 

To this day David has a strong testimony that his prayer was answered with this strong impression.  David’s military career placed him in many situations where he had to turn to our Heavenly Father for help, but this is one that I was able to also experience – albeit in a somewhat unusual and second-hand way.  We are all grateful for the tool we have available to us through prayer whereby we can talk with our Father in Heaven and receive impressions and answers to those prayers.

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