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Photo: Courtesy of Andy Bringuel
Retired Army flier Maj. Andrew "Andy" Bringuel now takes his orders from the Blessed Mother. Each day, he gets up at or before 5 a.m. and makes mission rosaries. In the last three years, he's made more than 2,400 of the prayer beads.
By Dan Valenti (Apr 5, 2009)
Old soldiers don't die, they just faith away.
Retired Army flier Maj. Andrew Bringuel gets up at the crack of dawn, no later than 5 a.m. every morning, to make rosaries.
"I am often asked, 'Why do you get up so early every morning to make rosaries?' My response is generally something like this: The Blessed Mother asks me to make rosaries for the poor, the less fortunate, and missions everywhere. I would be blessed if some of the rosaries I make bring the recipients closer to Jesus and his Most Blessed Mother."
'Blessed to be Alive"
Andy, 71, says he is "blessed to be alive." In his seven-plus decades, he says, "God has saved me from near certain death several times. The first was when I was about 12 years old and dove into San Francisco Bay following my buddies. Only problem was I did not know how to swim but was too embarrassed to tell the others. I followed my buddies into the water but somehow became entangled in the cable that anchored the floating boat dock from which we jumped."
As he recounts this story, Andy says he "can still see the yellow/green light of the sun coming through the surface water. Until recently that's what I thought that light was. However, I am now more inclined to believe that was God's angel, who came to save me. I saw the light, and then my leg came free of the cable!"
Andy says, "My friends thought I was being funny! I flopped around in the water and somehow managed to get to the dock, where my friends were still laughing. I was helped out of the water but never did I admit that I could not swim."
Flying Mach III with His Head on Fire
Andy related a second near-brush with death. It happened when he was serving in Viet Nam and flying his last combat mission. There is no explanation, Andy says, for his survival on that mission other than God sitting in the co-pilot's seat.
It happened when Andy was flying his final combat mission in a secret experimental craft called the Quiet Plane. The plane was designed to fly low (800-1,000 feet), slow (55-60 mph), and be virtually invisible from the ground. Getting caught up in the adrenaline of the mission, and with what the major calls "the 'pucker factor' at or above the height of the moon," Andy hadn't properly monitored his fuel readouts.
Bottom line is that he ran bone dry out of fuel. Visions of having to ditch behind enemy lines plagued his mind. The plane, however, stayed in the air long enough to get him home to base.
Think of how antsy it can be to be driving your car, in the middle of nowhere, and you see the "LOW FUEL" light come on. On my Ford Focus a bright yellow-gold gas pump lights up. The needle is on "E." There are a few emergency miles left, but how many?
Now picture yourself in the sky, piloting a a small, experimental plane through fog, and the fuel warning lights flash in the darkened cockpit like a string of Christmas bulbs. It's a situation that combat pilots flying high-speed aircraft call "Flying Mach III with your head on fire."
Andy explains: "There's no way could I have flown the airplane without fuel. I had performed my mission of searching for, finding, and identifying the enemy and calling on the radio for artillery support to destroy the enemy. I became so engrossed in the mission that I failed to properly monitor my fuel status. After engaging the target and reporting the effects of the artillery, I turned to return to home base.
"Unknown to me, ground fog had settled between my position and home base. Without being able to see the ground, I could not navigate. Somehow God flew that airplane to my home base and got us on the ground safely. The next day the maintenance crew told me they put more fuel into the tank than the book said the plane would hold! That means the tank was empty and so were the lines to the engine. Only God could have flown that airplane in that condition."
'The Miracle Man from God'
The last time God saved Andy occurred in July 2005, after he became seriously ill with viral encephalitis and his wife rushed him to the hospital.
"I was in a coma for 13 days and not expected to live. The doctor told my wife if I came out of the coma I would likely be paralyzed at least on one side. I believe God used a food supplement that I had been taking to return me to the living. I am fit as I can be now. Even the doctor now refers to me as, 'The Miracle Man from God.' Pretty strong stuff for a doctor."
During this experience, Andy said that he awoke "with a feeling that the Blessed Mother had told me to stop tossing and turning on the bed and get up and do something productive. I awoke thinking, 'What can I do that is productive?' That is when I recalled that I learned to make rosaries a few months before. Making rosaries for Our Lady mother should be considered productive, so I got out of bed and began making rosaries."
Andy says that "the strange thing" is that he seems to awake every morning without an alarm clock at or before 5 a.m.
"I have been making 'mission' rosaries now since 2005. I sent out over 600 in 2006, 661 in 2007, and 1,133 last year. Not bad for the Blessed Mother's 'one man Rosary Army.' I have never felt closer to God, Jesus, and Our Blessed Mother than I do now. It is a GREAT feeling."
He's proud of his years in the Army and later his work as a civil servant. They add up to 43 years of public service. He also speaks fondly of his 51-year-old marriage. Nothing, though, equals the satisfaction of "being productive for God." Andy says he's only obeying orders.
"You see," Andrew says, "even a tough old soldier responds to the requests of his Mother."
Dan Valenti writes for numerous publications of The Marians of the Immaculate Conception, both in print and online. He is the author of "Dan Valenti's Journal" at thedivinemercy.org.