I was told this by a police officer from Clifton, New Jersey, in 1983, and we made a written record of his experience. In 1968, Celestino V. was stationed at a base in Bien Hoa, 15 miles north of Saigon, with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division. Located on the plains of the Mekong Delta and flanked by native villages.
One night in February the air raid siren went off while Celestino was asleep in the barracks. The base was under rocket attack and all personnel had to take shelter in the adjacent bunkers. Celestino got down behind a reinforced partition just outside the entrance to the bunker.
Barely a moment had passed behind the reinforced partition when he heard a voice cry out: “Celestino! Get back here!” He looked toward the rear of the bunker. He knew two of his friends were back there but the yellowish smoky light blocked his vision. “Who’s that?” he called back. And again he heard: “Celestino! Get back here!” The voice was clear and authoritative. “I’m all right!” he yelled. He was annoyed because he couldn’t see who was calling him.
But the voice cried out again, this time louder, more urgently: “Celestino! Come back here!” This time he didn’t stop to think. He got up and made his way through the tangled bunch of bodies until he reached the first support beam. “OK?” he asked, almost petulant. No one paid any attention to him. But again the bodiless voice demanded: “Come back here!” Again he got up and moved toward the second support beam. “Now OK?” This time there was no answer. “Fine,” he thought, “I’ll sit down here.”
He had reached the halfway mark in the bunker. He looked into the space where the voice seemed to have come from. Four times it had called him. It must have been one of his buddies. Then he glanced back at the spot he had just left. An air force sergeant was now sitting on the partition, in his underwear, a cigarette dangling from his fingers. He had met the sergeant that very day but couldn’t remember his name. “He’s in my spot,” he thought.
He turned to one of the men beside him and asked for a cigarette. He was handed one and as their eyes met and they heard the sound of a rocket. It was a high-pitched whistle—last sound before a direct hit. Celestino saw a tremendous ball of flame explode directly where he had been sitting a few moments earlier. Then a powerful force struck him and he blacked out.
When he woke up he was covered with sand and steel planking, surprised to be alive. He was treated for a bump on his head and a cut on the knee. All the men who were sitting in front of him were dead, 16 in all. Behind the second support beam the voice had directed him to, everyone was intact.
Celestino walked about in a daze, he told me, unable to comprehend what had happened. He recalled asking each of the men in the bunker that survived who had called him, who had saved his life. “No one had heard the voice that ordered me—four times—to come to the back of the bunker,” he said, adding, “Not only did the voice know that the rocket would strike the spot where I was sitting, it knew exactly how far into the bunker I had to go to escape death.”
He described how he went to the crater where the rocket landed and obliterated the sergeant he had met that very day for the first time and who had just been married. He also recounted the fact that his mother told him when he first shipped out not to worry, because somebody would be watching him. She had prayed to Padre Pio and to her father whom she was certain was in heaven and also looking out for his boy. Celestino explained that whatever he did since he was a kid—even when he started to go out on dates with girls—his Mom was always praying for him! And while he was in Vietnam, she prayed for his safety constantly.
Could his mother’s prayers have activated Celestino’s subliminal self or alerted the excarnate intelligences whom his mother was praying to? At first, Celestino shrugged off his Mom’s prayers, but in the 15 years since the incident in Bien Hoa, he became more open-minded about the power of prayer. Whatever you make of this story, we are left with the impression that something outside our known system of reality acts upon us—from time to time.