Wendell Bradford Terry (known to his friends as Mike) and Beverly Ann Dodge married while Terry was on leave during his training to become a B-17 bomber pilot. Beverly and Wendell were allowed to live together during much of Lieutenant Terry's training, but when Wendell left for the European theater, Beverly moved back to Utah to be with her family.
While Wendell was being shot from the sky half a world away and enduring unimaginable hardship, Beverly experienced many miracles that gave her peace and confidence in the Lord.
Before Lieutenant Terry shipped out overseas, Beverly had been experiencing a lot of nausea and sickness, and the young couple both suspected that she was with child. As Terry expressed it years later, “What an exciting, wonderful, exhilarating thing to know that God had given us the most wonderful gift of all, that of having a child.” What he did not say was how hard it must have been for him to leave her at that point and go to war.
Not long after Bev’s arrival back in Utah, she made an appointment with a doctor to see if she was indeed pregnant. Her appointment was set for August 15, 1944. She and Wendell had only been separated for about three weeks.
Though Bev had no way of knowing this, on that very same day, about five thousand miles away, her beloved husband had been caught trying to escape and had been brutally beaten and hung up in a tree like a piece of meat. Unaware of any of that, Bev went to the doctor, who confirmed that she was pregnant and was due around the first of March. He also said that everything looked healthy. Delighted to have this finally confirmed, Bev immediately went shopping. As she described later, “I wanted to get some baby things, so I got some little shirts, some diapers, some receiving blankets, and finally the cutest baby blanket. It had baby bears on it and satin trim around the edges.” Very excited to share the news with her parents and later with Terry’s parents, she returned home, bubbling with excitement.
To her surprise, Wendell’s mother and father were at her parents’ home. The two families had become good friends, but she hadn’t expected to see them in the middle of the day. All four of the adults looked very grave.
Wendell’s mother came to her and said, “Bev, please sit down for a minute. We have something that we have to tell you.”
But Bev would have none of that. “No!” she exclaimed. “Before you tell me anything, I want to tell you my news and then show you what I’ve done.” They all looked at each other but then nodded for her to proceed.
Bev told them that they were going to be grandparents and then took out her purchases and excitedly showed them what she had bought. All four parents sat quietly, nodding and trying to smile, obviously wanting to let her enjoy this moment of happiness. But finally Bev realized that something was seriously wrong. Setting the purchases aside, she asked, “What is it?”
“We have something to tell you,” Wendell’s mother said again. Bev could tell that she was very troubled. “We received a telegram from the War Department this morning.”
Bev felt herself go cold as her mother-in-law continued. “Wendell’s bomber has been shot down over France. They don’t know all that happened, but Wendell is now listed as missing in action.”
Bev was stunned and horrified. Tears filled her eyes and she began to sob. For a time they all sat together and cried. Then Bev stood up. “Will you excuse me?” she asked. “I need to be alone for a little while.”
Bev went into her bedroom and got down on her knees beside the bed. With tears still streaming down her face, she began to talk to her Heavenly Father. A few minutes later, she got up and went back into the living room, where her parents and the Terrys were waiting. She held her arms out to them and they embraced her. Still crying, but this time with tears of happiness, Bev looked at those she loved and said, “I feel wonderful. You don’t need to wonder about Mike. Heavenly Father has let me know that he is going to be all right.”
That night, Bev Terry had a dream. In the dream she saw a bomber flying through the air, and somehow she knew that it was her husband’s. As she watched, she saw the plane hit by an explosion and one wing rip mostly off. She saw the plane engulfed in flames and start into a downward spiral. But to her amazement, suddenly she was looking inside the plane. She saw Mike frantically trying to control the plane so his crew could bail out. But when it came time for him to bail out, she watched in horror: as he couldn’t get the small escape hatch open. She was afraid she was going to see him die. But then, somehow, he forced the door open and jumped out through the flames that were consuming the plane. The dream was vivid enough that she even saw that Mike was slightly burned on his face and that his hair was singed as he jumped out.
Again, the dream switched suddenly and Bev saw Mike being captured by German soldiers. She saw him trying to escape and could tell that he had been hurt, though she wasn’t sure how. Then to her surprise, in the next instant, she saw him in his dress uniform with other air force personnel around him as he was awarded the Purple Heart, the medal given to soldiers and airmen who are wounded in combat.
As her dream closed, Bev woke up. The dream was troubling in one way and yet deeply gratifying in another. She knew it was a tender mercy from a loving Father. What she didn’t yet know, however, was how much she would need the assurance of what she had seen during the months ahead.
Learn more of Lieutenant Wendell B. Terry's miraculous story in Lieutenant Terry's Christmas Fudge.
On a mission to bomb a French bridge and slow down Hitler's retreating army, U.S. bomber pilot Wendell B. Terry miraculously survived a harrowing parachute jump after his plan was hit by enemy fire. Scorched by the burning plane, he landed amid German SS troops and soon found himself in a German prisoner-of-war camp. He shared a cement room with 23 other prisoners. He lived with a dirt floor, no heat to ward off the bitter cold, one small window, and not much to do. To make matters worse, Christmas was approaching, and Lieutenant Terry's heart ached for his new wife and their child who would soon be born.
In the depths of the cold and dark, however, a light of hope was sparked by the arrival of a small parcel from the Red Cross. Chosen by lottery to receive that package, Lieutenant Terry opened it to find a small can of powdered milk, a packet of sugar, two squares of unsweetened chocolate—and a chance to bring a glimmer of Christmas joy to his fellow prisoners.
Brought to life with original drawings by Lieutenant Terry himself, this heartwarming true story of sharing what little you have even in the direst of circumstances will inspire you to look for small ways to bring joy to others. Charmingly retold by beloved author Gerald N. Lund, Lieutenant Terry's Christmas Fudge is a classic tale you'll want to revisit every Christmas for years to come.