Freethought Views Memorial: An Atheist’s Foxhole in the Sky, by Louis E. Guzman, Ph.D. (1921-2013).

An Atheist’s Foxhole in the Sky

by Louis E. Guzman, Ph.D.


Unlike the legendary battlefield foxhole, mine was in the sky - the rear seat of a Navy carrier based dive-bomber with my cockpit canopy opened for action. In it aerial combat never frightened me, never caused me to call for succor by man or spirit.

At times, moments in the air were even thrilling. I recall during our first attack looking down from 25,000 feet at the Japanese ships we were to attack in a Philippine island bay just before Holt, my pilot, pulled us into a graceful wing-over, starting a perilous dive behind the section leader as he settled on a target. Soon, Holt caught on to the intended target of our 500-pound bomb.

As Holt corkscrewed the plane seeking an optimum bombing attitude we plummeted over 20,000 feet like a falling rock. Facing upslope, I was at first assured to see the remaining bombers strung out behind up into the infinite blue. But then I noticed the following bombers unsteadily deviating from a single column, causing them to momentarily lose position in an otherwise neat formation. We were now in the whistling silence of a deadly dive-bomber’s equivalent of the fog of war. Worse still, at times the following plane would drift into our recovery path, precisely where the 500-pounder, if released early by the plane above, might land in my lap. My head shuddered but held its cool.

Not being a mere passenger on a joy ride, I was ready to use my twin 30-caliber machine guns to ward off enemy aircraft. An equally critical task was to monitor the altimeter over my left shoulder and at 2,000 feet to sharply alert Holt of that critical height by calling, mark, mark, mark, on the intercom. It was time to release the bomb, following which he was to begin our brain stunning pull-up. My eyelids soon weighed a ton as the high-G pressure took its toll. I felt several times heavier, hardly able to move. I could at best hang on to the gun ring. I turned laboriously to watch the bomb, as it struck the enemy ship’s bow.

Instinctively, Holt shoved the throttle forward for maximum speed and quickly flipped the perforated diving flaps switch. The engine roared away the silence, as we turned to exit the battlefield. I closed the rear cockpit canopy. Swinging toward the pre-designated rendezvous direction, Holt started a quick run out of danger.

I paused for a deep breath, but soon tracer bullets were flying by. Abruptly, the massive aircraft began shuddering, as if we had been hit. I sensed Holt fighting the flight controls. Then the shattering vibration ceased. I reported no observable damage that might have caused the instability.

Fortunately, Holt and I were unharmed. I took my belated deep breath and congratulated him for a safe and successful dive. We still had to join our squadron and make our way aboard the carrier in one piece. Later, aboard the carrier Yorktown we found a deep indentation at the leading edge of the right wing. Apparently, a shell had embedded itself in the wing, and then had been shaken loose by the buffeting motion.

I thanked my atheist foxhole in the sky while patting our plane for bringing us safely through our first combat.



An Atheist’s Foxhole in the Sky, by Louis E. Guzman, Ph.D. (appearing above mildly edited) was originally published in the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs Freethought Views in the Colorado Springs Independent in March of 2009.

Louis E. Guzman PhD was a WW II Navy veteran who spent three decades as an agricultural attaché to South America for the US State Department. Later Dr. Guzman worked as an associate professor at George Mason University, retiring in 1995.[1]

Louis E. Guzman Ph.D. was the first president and second vice president of the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs United States Internal Revenue Service 501(c)3 and Colorado Charity, and a repeat contributor to the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs’ Freethought Views column in the Colorado Springs Independent.

Louis E. Guzman PhD died November 8, 2013 at the age of 921, and Lou is sorely missed by the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs.
[1] Some of the information about Louis E. Guzman PhD’s life was retrieved from The University of Chicago Magazine, March-April 2013, Volume 105, Number 4, page 93.