25 March 2008
I don't throw the word around lightly, but today I met a real live, honest to God Hero, and his charming wife, in of all places - the post office.
I was there making my weekly care package shipment to Iraq and happened to have my "book" with me that contains everything from stamps, Priority Mail labels, custom forms (both kinds) and everything else I might need just in case something has changed since my visit two days before. (IE: The 2007 Customs Forms are out now - no irony there!)
On this leather bound book I have a few patches on the cover: Ranger Tab, Airborne Tab, 101st Eagle, Pathfinder patch...you get the idea. He noticed it and knew exactly what it was for. He asked how long my 1SG had been in country. I'm almost ashamed of my answer as far as my missing him after what he and his wife said in reply.
He'd been a pilot in WWII, Korea AND Vietnam. He named so many helicopters that he's flown that there were some I'd never heard of. (And I've heard of most of them.) He has more hours flying than most pilots I know - well over 12,000. (And that's NOT counting his civilian hours - those were just his Military hours.)
He still flies and teaches (but I don't think the wife is to happy about that) AND, the man also jumps out of airplanes. He said it was a nice break when flying got too easy.
I know I thanked him for his service and I'm sure I stammered a couple of other things that related to gratitude, but like most Heroes, he didn't want to hear it. He actually blushed and said,
"How could I have done anything else?"
I wish I would have thought to ask his name, but in retrospect, I wouldn't post it. Men such as that don't want recognition or glory.
But it's not every day you meet a man like that - they are the last of a VERY special breed and I am grateful to have met one in person.
Thank God we have some left and that some new ones have stepped up.
Where ever you are, Sir - thank you for the honor and the privilege of meeting you.