Douglas C. Busath, age 21, from Salt Lake City, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. Following training at Santa Ana, California and in Hawaii, Douglas was assigned first to a bombardment squadron and later to a headquarters squadron, both in the Pacific. He attended LDS church services while in Hawaii, but once out on duty, he was limited to whatever generic services he could occasionally find.
After more than a year in the Pacific, by then stationed in New Guinea, Douglas wrote to his parents about an experience at a location he could not name due to wartime censorship rules:
Had an amazing thing happen last Sunday. I had an assignment to visit two different advance bases and come back here and give a report. I got to the first base all right, but bad weather set in and we were grounded for the rest of the day. After finding a place to sleep for the night, I did the next most important thing – located a chow line.
It being Sunday I thought I’d go to a chapel I found nearby, but a sign on the door said the services were held there only in the morning. (It wasn’t a chapel really, just the intelligence department of some bombardment squadron, but someone had painted a cross on a little sign, and that is enough to make any building a chapel in New Guinea.)
So I started to hunt for a show and got a lead on one, about five miles away. Hitch-hiking is always easy here. As I started down the road I passed the chapel again and heard an organ, so I went in. A group was singing as I entered and there was an enlisted man leading, so I assumed the chaplain was the man playing the portable organ.
The conductor then asked one of the men in the congregation to offer the opening prayer and I began to feel at home.
As the prayer progressed I thought more and more: that’s a Mormon prayer. but then maybe all lay people pray that way. My hopes were realized, though, when they announced the second song, “How Firm a Foundation.” I had come home!
I’m afraid I was guilty of beaming like a little ray of sunshine. They could have turned out the lights and no one would have known the difference. It was a wonderful meeting. They had both a sermon and a discussion topic and the two hours passed all too quickly.
No one can convince me that this was a coincidence. I know of no other incident in my life which has so strengthened my testimony as this – after all these months with no contact with the Church, then to be guided to this fine group of Mormon boys, so far (if I could only tell you!) from what we call civilization – a group of Mormon boys who need no chaplain to conduct the services they love.
Douglas made it back from the war. As a member of the Army Reserves, he was called up again during the Korean War, serving for 19 months as a legal officer at Randolph Field, Texas. He established himself as an attorney in Sacramento, California. My searches turn up a two-year-old interview in a California newspaper; since I have not found a death date, it is possible that at age 87, Douglas Busath is a living link to our past.