WWII bomber navigator seeks and finds forgiveness

Carroll King

Carroll King 1924–2010

The son of a Quaker socialist, Carroll was a pacifist until World War II convinced him that Hitler and Mussolini could only be overthrown by force. He joined up and was soon navigating a B-24 bomber over Europe. He sought an answer in politics and was elected to the Minnesota State legislature in 1954.

After the war, he and his wife, Doris, found and joined the Bruderhof. But the guilt of his participation in bombing civilians never left him. At seventy-four, determined to atone for it in some way, he and Doris took part in an initiative called Bridges to Baghdad, which sent human shields to Iraq to deter threatened American airstrikes and call attention to the suffering of Iraqi civilians caused by foreign sanctions.

While there, Carroll met a woman who had lost nine children in a bombing raid: “I asked her forgiveness and told her my sorrow for what my country had done. I was amazed at the softness and real compassion she had for me. She gave her forgiveness wholeheartedly.” The encounter filled Carroll with the hope that even the worst injustices could be redressed by personal acts of repentance and forgiveness. “It may be a wild dream,” he wrote, “but I would rather live with that dream than with the nightmare our world is facing now.”

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