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Rocky Olson was a highly decorated Army Infantry soldier who served valiantly during the Vietnam War.  His account of military service in Vietnam, as related in his book SGT. ROCK:  Last Warrior Standing, is an incredible story of courage and bravery.

Sgt Rocky Olson
(Courtesy Rocky Olson – SGT. ROCK: LAST WARRIOR STANDING)

As was the case with most young adults of his generation, Rocky honorably accepted his military call of duty with some trepidation, knowing full well the dangers that faced those who served on the battle field.  What transpired after a brief period of training is the subject of Rocky’s amazing book.  What’s missing from that published account is the rest of this man’s remarkable story, and his special relationship with our beloved George Samuel Reid.

Rocky has graciously agreed to allow the most sacred and previously unpublished portion of his story to be documented here.  As you read Rocky’s personal account of what transpired days before he left for battle, you will understand why “the rest of his story” is related in his own words below:

My name is Rocky Olson. Hopefully you have already read some of the miraculous priesthood blessings and administrations George Reid gave to family members and others he was called to serve. While I know of others not listed on this site, I do want to include one of my own encounters with him.  I personally consider George as close to God’s ideal creation as is possible for us mere mortals in terms of his faith and spiritual gifts.
 
After my Basic and Advanced Infantry training in 1968, I came home for a two week leave prior to a military tour in Vietnam. My Orders said I was going to be an Army infantry soldier in that war torn country.  My last Sunday home before going to war the Bishop (Sherman Wayment – Sunset, Utah, 5th Ward) asked me if I would bear my testimony in Sacrament meeting. He did this as he met me and shook my hand at the door of the Chapel. I had lived in that Ward ever since I was a little boy, I knew everyone there.  I had stood at that pulpit many times including as a home-coming missionary just a year earlier. I would be happy to bear my testimony I told him. At the meeting I guess it was quite evident that the ward members feared for my future and that my parents were quite concerned about my safety. It was a particularly bad time in the war zone; hundreds of U.S. soldiers were being killed every week, sometimes that many in a day.
 

Patriarch George Samuel Reid – Sunset Utah Stake

After having born my testimony I returned to my cushioned seat on the stand. Without prior invitation, or warning, the Stake Patriarch (George Reid), who happened to be visiting our ward that day and was seated at the back of the chapel, arose from his seat. He walked up the aisle and presented himself at the microphone I had just vacated. The Bishop stayed seated, we all gave deference to the Patriarch when he wanted to speak. He placed a hand on each side of the pulpit and just stood there looking into the eyes of the congregation for a short while. Something dramatic was about to happen, you could have heard a pin drop. Slowly, he raised his right arm to the square and said, “In the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, I command this young soldier to return home to us, alive and untouched, to be able to fulfill his calling in life, so long as he keeps the commandments.” He then stepped away from the pulpit and returned to his seat.
 
I remember him standing at the pulpit speaking as though he were a spokesman for a host of angels. The spirit of the Lord was so evident that I will never forget it. There was not a dry eye in the congregation. George Reid had just commanded something that no man, no army, not even Satan himself could change, and everybody in the room knew it.
 
I left for Vietnam the next day with that Patriarchal Blessing, given to me in front of my entire ward, in my back pocket, so to speak.
 
I have written a book full of my Vietnam experiences, detailing the many times I could have, and should have, been killed. The book was written for the general public, not specifically for the LDS market. If you have read SGT. ROCK: LAST WARRIOR STANDING you now understand the unwritten story behind the book.
 
If not for that very special blessing…
 
Sergeant Rocky Olson
P.S. One of my boys carries “Reid” for his middle name.

It should come as no surprise to the Reid family that George Reid had the faith to use his Priesthood in such a remarkable way.  As a Patriarch, George had been given the gift of prophecy, and he was fearless and bold at the appropriate times in his use of that gift.  Never was the gift abused or aggrandized, and never was it thrust upon the disbelieving. He carried that special mantle with the reverence and dignity that it deserved.

As a postlude to this story, I humbly add my witness to what you have read.  I was among those seated in the chapel that day as Rocky bore his testimony and as my grandfather, George Reid, rose and promised that Rocky would return safely.  Those prophetic words pierced my soul, and left an indelible impression on a then 13 year-old young man.  Frankly, I worried that Grandpa might have been caught up in the emotion of the meeting, and felt compelled to stand and say something of comfort and hope.  Whatever doubts I had about the power a righteous servant of God could command were forever set aside when Rocky did indeed return home from his tour of service “alive and untouched”.

Not long after his safe return home from duty, Rocky accepted the assignment to escort a group of 15-17 year-old scouts on an over-nighter.  I was one of those young men, and if I remember right, we kept Rocky up all night relating story after story of his miraculous experiences in Vietnam.  Since then, I have followed Rocky’s journey through life with keen interest.  His story is now the subject of a well-written book, but more important to me is the rest of his story – an indisputable and profound testimony of what happens when faith, Priesthood power, and obedience to God intersect to bless the lives of the faithful.

Worth a Thousand Words

It’s true.  Pictures reveal what words often fail to express.  And in the case of documenting family history, there’s nothing quite like a photo to characterize the essence of those who came before us.

That’s not to say that the old family bible, the census record image, the marriage certificate, or the detailed last will and testament are not treasured records of a researcher.  But let’s face it (slight pun intended), nothing is as effective in bringing family history to life as are the rare pictures of our loved ones from years past.

Christopher Columbus Everett Reid – Confederate Soldier, circa 1861. (Photo courtesy of Jerry Tidwell, author of “One Family’s Journey through Time”).

One such example is our recent discovery of the photograph of Christopher Columbus Everett Reid. CCE Reid was born in Pike County, Georgia in 1834, the only child of Freeman Reid and Nancy Ray.  In August of 1861, at the age of 27, CCE joined Jeff Faulkner’s infantry unit of the Confederate Army.  As evidenced by this picture, CCE wore the Confederate uniform proudly.

Why all the fuss about this particular photo?  After all, it’s not that rare to find images of the Civil War era.  But when it comes to documenting our Reid family history, pictures of this time period are few and far between – especially ones that can help us better imagine what our forefathers may have looked like.  And this photo does just that.  You see, CCE is the grandson of our last known ancestor, Jacob Reede (Reid), and also a 1st cousin to our Marcus D Lafayette Reid!  And it would appear from this image that CCE matches quite well the physical descriptions we have of both Jacob and MDL when they enlisted in military service at a comparable age.

Jacob Reid was 43 years old when he enlisted in the War of 1812.  His physical description was recorded as being 5’10” tall, having black hair, dark eyes, and a dark complexion.  Jacob’s grandson, MDL Reid, was 31 years old when he too enlisted as a Confederate Soldier.  His physical description was recorded as being 6’0″ tall, having dark hair, a dark complexion, and blue eyes.  Based on those physical descriptions, and now this cherished photo of CCE Reid, perhaps we have a better idea of what Jacob and MDL looked like at that age.  And as the more contemporary photos below suggest, there appears to be a strong resemblance between CCE Reid and MDL’s son Charles, and grandson, George. In this case at least, it really does seem accurate to say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Charles M. Reid

George S. Reid

 

A special thanks to Jerry Tidwell, author of “One Family’s Journey through Time”, for providing us permission to use this treasured photograph from his family collection.  Jerry is a direct descendant of Christopher Columbus Everett Reid, and his book tells the wonderful story of his family history, including their connection to our shared Reid line.  Jerry has offered to provide what he knows of our shared Reid heritage, and to assist, as time permits, in the research.  We are very grateful for his generous contribution, and we look forward to our continued association.

Where is your faith, Brother?

George Reid was a man of great faith.  His confidence and trust in God was exemplified in every aspect of his life, and he desired to share that virtue with everyone he associated with.  It’s safe to say that there were few, if any, patrons who stopped at his service station, or Davis County residents who came under his jurisdiction as the Justice of the Peace, or the myriad of friends, family, church members and other associates who did not know and were not affected in some significant way by the manifestation of George’s great faith.

Elder George Reid in a moment of contemplation at the Joseph Smith home, Palmyra, New York.

The following is an account of one such occasion while serving as a missionary at the Joseph Smith home in Palmyra, New York when George’s faith was manifest in rich abundance.

To the Reid Family:

I have been involved for the last 37 years in directing youth tours to all the Church History sites across America.  One of the most important and cherished sites to all members of the Church is the Sacred Grove where Joseph Smith had the First Vision of the Father and Son.  In all the experiences I have had at these sites over the years, and especially at the Sacred Grove, one special experience that stands out and one that I tell a lot—involved Elder Reid, Stan’s Father and your Grandfather.

It was early June of 1975 when we were at Palmyra to visit the Grove.

The night before it was raining very hard as it does in the East—and I was concerned that the rain may continue into the next day and spoil our visit to the Grove.  Sure enough, the next morning it was still raining hard with no sign of it letting up.  I had talked to Elder Reid on the phone previously to tell him of our coming—and so I thought I should call him and tell him that maybe we would wait for a while and see if the rain would stop.  As I told him that on the phone—there was a pause on the phone, then in a firm and convincing voice Elder Reid said, “Brother Eliason, you get over here right now and don’t delay—where is your faith Brother?”

The tone of his voice was enough to know that he meant what he said and the assurance that I felt from this “mild rebuke” prompted me to get the students on the bus immediately and get to the Sacred Grove.

We drove for about 30 minutes through a down pour of rain, hoping that it would stop before we reached the Grove.  It did not!  As we reached the Smith farm house and began to park the busses—Elder Reid came out of the home with an umbrella protecting him from the down pour.

He greeted us warmly as he stepped on the bus, the rain water dripping off the umbrella onto the steps of the bus.

After a short greeting he stood at the front of the bus and addressed the group.  Standing before this group of wonderful young people, with signs of rain drops on his suit he said, “Young people, I ask you if you have enough faith to step off this bus and walk into the Grove to feel what Joseph experienced in this sacred spot?  You have come too far not to have this experience.”  Then turning to me he said in a firm and humble voice, “Brother Eliason, if you have enough faith to ask the Lord to stop the rain for your visit here, I promise you that you will step off this bus and will have the time you need to visit the Grove and do what you came for.”  We then had a prayer on the bus and ask everyone to have their own prayer.  The other bus was wondering what we were going to do, so we told them and they had a prayer on their  bus.  When I opened the door it was still raining—hard!  But because of Elder Reid’s faith and the faith he had generated with us, we stepped off the bus, got about ten or twenty feet from the bus and the rain began to stop.  By the time we had reached the Grove the rain had completely stopped.  The sky was still dark with clouds but within 30 minutes the sun came out, dried the ground and  the trees.  That day we had a testimony meeting that lasted almost three hours.  As we ended the meeting and started for the bus we felt a few drops of rain—as we had noticed some clouds rolling in toward us.  Then we literally had to run for the bus as the rain again came in torrents as it did earlier that morning!

We were truly blessed that day with a miracle from our Heavenly Father because of a faithful Elder who  instilled in us his faith and the knowledge that our Father in Heaven loves us and knows our hearts and desires.  I will always be grateful for Elder Reid, for what he taught all of us that day in June of 1975.  Many have heard that story of faith and many more will be told of that special experience at the Sacred Grove.

Bob Eliason

Director, Heritage Tours

It was this time last year [December 2009] that the George Samuel Reid Family Roots blog was conceived.

Twelve months later we are pleased to report that more than 10,000 visitors have viewed one or more of the 181 pages and 5 posts.  Nearly fifty of those visitors, many of whom we have discovered are distant relatives, were kind enough to leave a comment.

Others who have discovered the site have benefited from the reference materials organized by surname or location that are published directly on the blog.  Many more have followed one of the hundreds of links to outside reference sources.  Regardless of whether our visitors have been drawn here due to their connection to the family or just by good old fashioned curiosity, we hope that all who have come have been rewarded in some way for their time spent clicking through the pages of our past.

We are pleased to report that the pages dedicated to George and LaVon Reid are among the most popular of this blog.  Following close behind is the page related to our DNA research.  Thousands of our visitors have been intrigued by what we now know about our most distant ancestors that scientists report can be traced back to the origin of man over 10,000 years ago.  It is a humbling thought to consider that we really do connect to those who came before us so many years ago.

We have great hopes for the site in the coming year.  As this blog gains notoriety in web search engines and by other means of referral, we hope that many future visitors will find their way to us, and in turn, find a connection to their past that they have been searching for.  And even if no direct family link is discovered, we hope that the content of the site will be beneficial in some other way.

Speaking of content, as time and resource permit, we will continue to add content and context to the hundreds of pages of the blog.  As always, any of our visitors are welcome to contribute to this ever expanding reference tool.  It is a special place wherein we hope George and LaVon will continue to rank foremost among the principal interests, for their lives and legacy continue to be one of our primary sources of inspiration.

DNA Test Results

We are excited to report that the Reid DNA test results are finally available!  In a word, they are fascinating.  As its turns out, our heritage links to the E1b1b1a2 Haplogroup, a somewhat rare and distinctive group with its origin some 18,000 years ago in northeastern Africa, and migration thereafter traced to Mediterranean and European countries.

E1b1b1a Haplogroup Distribution

Testing was performed by FamilyTreeDNA.com, a highly accredited genealogy research organization with nearly 300,000 participants who have submitted DNA for analysis and comparison.

While the haplgroup designation is enlightening, the power of the DNA testing for our ancestral search is what is most compelling.  Already we have connected with two previously unknown Reid/Reed family members who we are certain share a common ancestor.  Certainly, there will be more connections made as others submit their DNA for testing.

Check back often for updates on this exciting technology and the specific results of our new found connections with distant relatives.

Welcome Home

Charles Richard Reid, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend, returned with honors to his heavenly home today. 

Charles Richard Reid

To his immediate family, we extend our love and condolences.   We will miss him, and we know that he will miss those he has left behind.  We take comfort, however, knowing that Dick was welcomed home with open arms by so many who came before him.  Surely, his dear Ila was there to greet him, along with father George, mother LaVon, and brother Don. 

The line of greeters would not have ended there.  Dick spent much of his adult life searching for, and learning all he could, of those who came before him.  Among the fruits of that labor came Dick’s keen awareness of his heritage that transcends far beyond genealogical curiosity.  Dick knew many of his distant ancestors nearly as well as he knew his own children.  So, as he made his way through the long line of welcoming out-stretched arms, it’s not likely that many introductions were necessary.  “Welcome home”, was surely a repeated refrain, as was Dick’s likely reply, “I’ve been anxious to meet you.” 

Yes, we’ll miss you, Dick, and we look forward to seeing you again in a coming day.  Until then, we sense that you’ll continue your quest to connect with those who came before you, and when possible, that you’ll do what you can to share that knowledge with us.

A Legacy of Faith

February 10th is a very special day in Reid Family heritage.

It was on February 10, 1877 that Marcus D Lafayette Reid and his wife Nancy Elizabeth Duke were baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ by Elder John Morgan and his companion.   A few days earlier Marcus had rescued Elder Morgan and his companion from a mob of men who were planning to tar and feather the two missionaries.  Persecution of the Mormon Elders in the South was a common occurrence, so it was no small act of bravery for Marcus to intervene.

Somehow Marcus was able to get the missionaries out of town and back to his home to safety.  When Nancy found out, she was angry and terrified.  What if the mob came to their home looking for the missionaries?  Now the entire family was in peril.  No doubt, she and Marcus had words about it.  Somehow Marcus prevailed and convinced Nancy to let the missionaries stay long enough to get cleaned up, and to feed them.  In her anger, Nancy left the house to fetch fresh water from the nearby stream.  Apparently the Lord knew that she needed comfort and convincing.  It was while she was drawing water from the stream that a man with glowing white hair and a white beard approached her from behind and announced to her that the men in her home were “Elders of Israel, servants of the living God” and that she would do well to listen to them.

You might know the rest of that story.  Nancy returned to the house with a new perspective.  She and Marcus provided for the missionaries care, including fending off the mob that did come to the house later that evening demanding that the missionaries be released to them.  Marcus stood his ground again in defense of the missionaries, and from that time on, Marcus and Nancy’s commitment to the Gospel never wavered.  After his baptism, Marcus was made the Branch President of the small town of Armuchee, Georgia.   In spite of the continued threat of persecution by neighbors, the on-going efforts of the missionaries and Marcus’s local leadership resulted in that small part of Northwestern Georgia becoming known as a “little Utah”.

Eight years later, possibly at the encouragement of the same Elder John Morgan who was about to serve his second term as the President of the Southern States Mission, Marcus packed up his family and moved to Kaysville, Utah where he and his family could fully embrace the Gospel without retribution.  Marcus and Nancy had endured a mighty trial of their faith, and the Lord rewarded them, and their posterity, with the full blessings of the Gospel that we enjoy today.

Certainly, that event would be enough for us Reids to forever commemorate the 10th day of February, but that’s not all.  It so happened that on February 10, 1906, 29 years later, George Samuel Reid was born to his parents Charles Morgan Reid (the Morgan is after Elder John Morgan) and Esther Weir Stedman.  The Lord knew what kind of man George would become and what he would mean to his posterity, and saw to it that George’s life was preserved in spite of a life-threatening accident that occurred when George was only two years old.

George’s life history is too significant to chronicle here, but you should also know that the 10th of February continued to be an important day in his life.  It was on February 10, 1914 that George was baptized and confirmed, and it was on February 10, 1918 that George received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained a Deacon.  Not that he planned it that way, because it wasn’t until late in George’s life that he realized that each one of those events had occurred on that special day.  Perhaps it was only fitting that he passed away on the 10th day of November, 1990, just three months before his birthday.

Now on this February 10th we pause to give thanks for the blessings of the Gospel, and for the legacy of commitment to it by those who came before us.  It’s no matter of coincidence that every Reid who has since come from the union of Marcus D Lafayette Reid and Nancy Elizabeth Duke are part of that legacy.

That is the legacy we Reids commemorate this 10th day of February.  It is a legacy of faith that we will always be grateful for.