Earl Gilman was born in rural Maine in 1927. Earl’s family was not very wealthy and from a young age Earl worked on a farm to help pay for his living expenses.
When Earl turned 18, he was drafted. Between basic training and parachute and glider training, Earl returned to Maine and married his first wife, Doris.
Earl was sent to Germany to join the 82nd Airborne Division after completing his training. However, shortly after arriving in Germany, he was told the division was ordered back to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. As a newcomer, Earl was given the option to stay in Germany or return to the United States.
“I decided to stay in Germany because I just got there and it sounded kind of fun,” Earl said.
Earl was assigned as a prison guard at the Nuremberg Prison, the building located next to the Palace of Justice where the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war crimes took place.
“It was just a job to do… But I am glad I wasn’t on duty the night [Hermann] Göring took his pill,” Earl reflected.
Once the trials were over, Earl was reassigned to the Army Reserve. During this time Earl lived in Maine with his wife and his mother-in-law while doing odd jobs. His marriage was not going well and ultimately he decided to move out and live with his father and stepmother.
His father and stepmother did not have room for Earl to stay in the house, so he slept in their hen house. He spent a few months sleeping in the hen house while helping build a road. As the nights got colder, Earl decided he would try to reenlist in the army.
Earl reenlisted and was again sent to Germany where he served as a prison guard. He was then given the opportunity to rejoin the 82nd Airborne Division, which he did.
While living in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, his marriage was revived, and his family joined him there. Throughout the next few years, Earl and his family moved around the country as he was reassigned to several different duties. Eventually Earl applied and was accepted for flight school in Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Earl used his flight skills for four and a half years before taking an aircraft maintenance officer training course. During the course, Doris came to live with Earl. What Earl didn’t know was while Earl had been away flying, Doris had attended an Adventist seminar and became serious about Adventism. Every night, before Earl would go to sleep, she would read him “Your Bible and You.” Doris also asked Earl to take her to church each week. One Friday evening, Earl agreed and looked in the phone book to find the nearest church.
The next day the couple attended the church. At the end of the sermon, the speaker asked if anyone wanted to be baptized. To Earl’s surprise, Doris stood.
“Then, of course, it had to be the Holy Spirit, [because] I stood up with her,” Earl said.
Earl was baptized and soon after was relocated to another post. Throughout the rest of his military career Earl attended local Adventist churches which he said took him in and treated him like one of their own.
“Joining the Adventist church was the best thing I’ve ever done,” Earl said.
Earl has held many positions in several churches and has conducted many Bible studies. Earl retired from the military in the 1990’s with a Chief Warrant Officer W-3 rank. Today Earl attends the Lebanon Church. He prays God will continue to use him for His work.