In 1968, Sergeant Gordon Helsel—age 20—was bleeding to death in Vietnam when God saved his life in a most surprising way. Now he has written his witness to that intense firefight “exactly as it happened” and it is part of American history.
Gordon was born January 9, 1947 in Hampton, Virginia and he is the youngest of five children. His parents are the late Gordon Claire Helsel, Sr. and Erdine Helsel, who lived near Gordon until she died at the age of 96 in 2015.
Gordon lives in the small city of Poquoson, Virginia. He’s lived there most of his life and served his neighbors as fire chief, councilman, then mayor for 15 years, until he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2011.
He is the happy husband of his high-school sweetheart Joy, a father and grandfather. They married as teenagers and shortly thereafter Gordon was drafted by the U.S. Army.
“It’s been 45 years since I left the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. I know that many of my comrades don’t speak much about their experiences in a combat zone, but I made God a promise many years ago that I would always speak out when given an opportunity,” says Gordon. “I guess you could say I struck a deal with God: ‘Get me out of this place and I will tell my story.’ Well here it is: The Day God Showed Up .
“It’s difficult to explain how war can change a person. It took Vietnam to make me see I had a duty to those who are less fortunate than me.
“I went to Vietnam a 19-year-old kid and returned a man with a purpose. I came home grateful to be an American and grateful for everyone, known and unknown, who fought to protect the human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. While I have faltered and fallen many times after God saved my life, I know it is He Who sustains me so that I can tell this story to let everyone know that God never forgets us – to give people hope in good times and bad.”
For valor and wounds sustained, Gordon Helsel was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, but he didn’t write his book to boast about medals. The Day God Showed Up is a love story and Gordon’s tribute to his wife, God, his fallen and wounded friends, and all Americans who put their lives on the line by serving our country.
Gordon and Joy are business owners whose legacy now thrives under their sons, Scott and Brian. Gordon and Joy are proud of their sons, their daughter by marriage, Brian’s wife Christy, and their beautiful grandchildren, Wyatt Keith and Avery Elizabeth.
Like many of his brother Vietnam veterans, decades after the war Gordon was diagnosed with cancer from Agent Orange. Thanks to God, Gordon’s faithful doctor and everyone who cared for him, Gordon conquered the cancer.
All students of American history should read The Day God Showed Up . It’s perfect for Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day—or any day. It’s good for American patriots, especially active-duty and veteran Armed Forces, as well as their families. For more information, please see the beautiful Reader reviews .