LDS chaplain shares message of thanks

LONDON — Douglas Olauson, Naval Forces Europe's Fleet Chaplain and a Church member, offered the sermon at the annual Thanksgiving Day Service at St. Paul's Cathedral here Nov. 23.

Numerous dignitaries were among the 2,200 people to attend the interdenominational service — a 30-year tradition.

"I stood in front of 2,200 people of different faiths, who shared the love of America and the appreciation of our blessings, families and freedoms," Brother Olauson said. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be able to share a message that would touch so many lives."

In his sermon the LDS chaplain told the story of Charles Plumb, a former Navy pilot who was shot down during the Vietnam conflict and spent six years in a prisoner-of-war camp. Several years later, a man he never knew spotted him in a restaurant. Astonished, the former pilot asked the stranger how he knew him. The man answered, "I packed your parachute."

The thought that someone he'd never met, or even paid attention to, had saved the pilot's life was overwhelming, continued Brother Olauson. After meeting the man who packed his parachute, Charles Plumb began telling his inspiring story and noting that everyone has people in their lives to be thankful for, who "pack our chutes."

Gary Smilowitz, a Naval officer who attended the service, said it was impressive. "I've escorted guests through St. Paul's several times when the church was silent, and it was amazing to hear the powerful sound of the cathedral full of people responding and singing in unison," he said.