The Back Pew - September 2020

Submitted: Ernie Isbell, VLOA Chaplin


Linda and I hope that everyone is doing well in this period of uncertainty known as the Covid 19 Virus pandemic.

(FYI Linda and I just celebrated our 61st Anniversary and this event prompts me to ask: Who else in the Vinh Long Outlaws and assorted subunits have achieved being married (to the same person) for longer than 50 years? Please reply to me at and provide some details so that we can share this information in the next newsletter.)

The following is a reprint of a story that Chaplain John Doyle put in the October-December 2003 issue of the VLOA Newsletter. I think you will enjoy this feature of “The Back Pew”—

            “Wanting to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took him to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy quietly got up and eventually explored his way through a door marked “NO Admittance”.

When the house lights dimmed, the mother returned to her seat and discovered the child missing. Suddenly the curtains opened and the spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway piano on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently pecking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”.  At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano and whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit. Keep on playing.” Then leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and begin filling in with the base part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side of the child and he added a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was mesmerized.”

That’s the way it is with God. What we can accomplish on our own may not be noteworthy. We try our best, but the results aren’t always graceful flowing music. Remember, God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called. And he will always be there to love and guide you. The key is to seek His Guidance in all things. Amen

---Author unknown---

I hope that all who read this story will appreciate the point being made and seek the strength of God as we as a Nation struggle with great social issues and the Covid 19 pandemic. Through God all things can be accomplished.

Ernie Isbell, Chaplain, September 2020





What can the Chaplain do for me?

My primary job as Chaplain of the V. L. O. A. is to conduct the Sunday morning worship service at our reunions. In addition, should you have the need to talk with someone who has "been there, done that," I am available to listen.




Outlaws Devotional - July 2017


Christian Words                                

Ephesians 4:29.  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.


            When I entered the U.S. Army in 1960, I quickly learned that getting straight to the point was the norm.  Commanders were “old school;” give orders and demand soldiers execute them.  In later years, younger military personnel were a “different breed of cat” and required more explanation before the order.

As a young commander, I wasn’t attuned to the fact that the “explanation” I gave might be perceived as blunt, harsh, or critical.  My orders were more often than not very straight-forward, even though they contained some explanation.  My Father-in-Law made a statement one time when we were hunting on his Florida farm that really hit home with me.  He said: “Words are like a bullet shot from a pistol; once you pull the trigger, you can’t take back the bullet.”  As my names imply, I have always been earnest and frank!  My Father-in-Law’s words stuck with me as I grew older.

Some years ago, I forwarded an email I received criticizing a politician I didn’t support, only to get a return email from an Army buddy.  “Good Christians don’t criticize others” he said in his lengthy response, but then he criticized me for criticizing others.  I did a great deal of thinking about what he said.

Have you experienced someone that criticizes or disparages someone else in the written or spoken word, seriously or jokingly, knowingly or unknowingly?  Just about everywhere we look in today’s society, there is an abundance of hate, offensive statements, Tweets, Facebook posts, TV reports, and newspaper articles that have clearly moved away from being Christ oriented in our words and deeds.  This is the right time for all of us to take a step back and really see how our words and deeds are received by others.  Maybe we should apply Ephesians 4:29 during this period where our country is trying to find who it is and what it stands for again as a world leader.  Just maybe, some things might work better in our personal lives, our church, our community, and our nation.


My Prayer:  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my Strength, and my Redeemer.  Amen.

Submitted by Frank Estes



Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you: Jesus Christ and the American G.I.  One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.

      Source Unknown


Standing Prayer Request:

While most Prayer Requests will remain on the page for 30 days, here is a request that will remain as long as we have uniformed men and women stationed abroad. Please repeat this short prayer often and ask you friends and family to include it in their daily prayers:
Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands.
Protect them as they protect us.
Bless them and their families for the selfless
acts they perform for us in our time of need.
I ask this in the name of Jesus,
our Lord and Savior.   Amen.

Prayer Requests: (as of 01/06/2021)

James Carrol “Jim” Stanley, a resident of Dothan, died early Sunday morning, November 1, 2020, at his home. He was 68. 

Graveside memorial services, with military honors, will be held at 2:00 P.M. Wednesday, November 4, 2020, in the Tolbert Baptist Church Cemetery, 4305 County Road 45, South, Headland, with Darden Kirby officiating. Holman-Headland Mortuary & Cremations is in charge of arrangements. The family will receive friends following the graveside services. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Wiregrass Humane Society, P.O. Box 1045, Dothan, AL 36302. 

 Jim Stanley was born and reared in Oak Hill, West Virginia, son of the late Warner Carrol Stanley and Edith Giammerino Stanley. At an early age, he enlisted in the U. S. Army and served his country in the Vietnam War. Jim lived in Dothan most of his adult lifetime He retired as the Chief of Police from the City of Ashford. He was also retired from the City of Dothan Police Department as a Sergeant in the Criminal Investigations Division. Jim was a member of the Dothan Elks Lodge where he formerly served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He was of the Catholic faith. Jim loved fishing and participated in charity cooking for local charities. He was preceded in death by his brother, Richard Stanley. 

Surviving relatives include his wife, Susie Shelley Stanley; a daughter, Jessica Stanley (Craig Blocker), Ozark; a son, Mark Murphy (Christy), Headland; a sister, Teresa Pierce (David), Glen White, West Virginia; three grandchildren, Madison McDaniel, Justin Murphy and Brannon Murphy; sisters-in-law from the Shelley family, Allison Shelley and Julie Breckenridge (Mike) several nieces and nephews.   


William Bill Ray Coleman passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, November 28, 2019, in Huatulco, Mexico. He and his spouse, Diane, were enjoying the final days of a trans-Atlantic cruise that had begun in Rome and was transiting through parts of South America and the Panama Canal. Bill was born on May 23, 1949, in Vinton, Iowa, to Frederick Harold Coleman of Terre Haute, Indiana, and Phyllis Mae DuFresne of Mount Auburn, Iowa. He grew up in Longmont, Colorado, graduating from Longmont High School as a part of the Class of 1968.Bill was a brave, loyal, and honest man who possessed an incredible work ethic. He dutifully served his nation in the United States Army for eight and a half years, during the height of the Vietnam War, and rose to the rank of Specialist 5. It was during those tough times that he forged bonds of brotherhood that have lasted a lifetime. He cherished the friends that he made and the friends that he lost - then and in the years that followed. Following his military service, he returned to Colorado, married Sheree L. Johnson of Kearney, Nebraska, and then went on to work for the City of Lafayette for over 35 years where he was well-respected and loved by many. He will always be remembered for his love of family, country, cooking and the outdoors; his sense of humor; and his willingness to lend a helping hand. He was an avid traveler and scuba diver. In addition to these, he especially enjoyed helping his nephew, Todd Frank, with harvest every year. He was preceded in death by his parents, his former spouse Sheree Coleman, his brother Dave Coleman, and his son Blake Coleman. Bill is survived by: his loving wife, Diane, and her family; his son Jeff Coleman, his wife Alison, and their children, Kaleb, Michael, and Nick; his daughter-in-law Lisa and her children, Maison and Shayla; his daughter Christina Lynch, her husband Mark, and their children, Caitlin and Sarah; his sister Kathy Frank, her husband Ervin, and their family; his brother Kevin Coleman, his wife Jeannie, and their family; his sister Sherri Smith; and his brother Dave's family. His life will be remembered and celebrated by family and friends on December 21, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. at Ahlberg Funeral Chapel in Longmont, Colorado. A reception will follow at the American Legion in Longmont. Visit to share condolences.

Alvin Richard Moist, Sr., 83, of Marianna, FL, passed away on Monday, December 7, 2020 at Flowers Hospital in Dothan, AL. 

Alvin was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania on October 14, 1937. Alvin joined the Army after graduating Tyrone High School in 1955.  He married his beloved bride, Myra Nell Smith of Dothan, Alabama in 1959 and were married 56 years at the time of her passing in 2014. They are survived by their three daughters (Lori, Tina, and Amy), and honorary son, Tracy.

Al took great pride in his 24 years of service with the United States Army and subsequently served three tours of duty in Vietnam.  He was a talented crew chief in Army Aviation for 17 years and then served with the Military Police for the remainder of his Army career.  Alvin’s lifetime spent in Service allowed him to hunt and travel the world extensively. He was always encouraging his children to try new foods and cultures and experience the country around them. After his retirement from the Army, he worked with the Oklahoma and Florida Departments of Corrections for an additional 20 plus years. He and Nell retired in Marianna, Florida and loved his friends and family deeply. Alvin loved the outdoors, and was an avid sportsman. His travels allowed him to hunt big game in Germany and throughout the United States. Alvin will be greatly missed, but extraordinary stories will live on forever.

Alvinwas preceded in death by his wife, Myra Nell Smith Moist; son, Alvin Richard Moist Jr; and parents, Alvin Noah and Mary Weston Moist. 

Survivors include his daughters, Lori Poindexter and husband, Rick, of Sallisaw, OK; Tina Boyd and husband, Don, of Marianna, FL, and Amy Moist Strawn of DeFuniak Springs, FL; along with son of his heart, Tracy Hobbs and wife, Wendy of Enterprise, Alabama.  Alvin leaves behind eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Graveside funeral service will be 2 p.m. Thursday, December 17, 2020 at Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, FL with Tracy Hobbs, U.S. Army Retired, providing a Eulogy; Marianna Chapel Funeral Home directing. Military honors will be provided by the United States Army.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Wreaths Across America at