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Kinda long but worth the read. I copied it from another forum. True story that might water your eyes a little.

Back in November of 1971, I was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. We had returned from Vietnam a few months prior, and our unit was slowly being disbanded, and everyone being reassigned or discharged. It was the day before Thanksgiving, and the barracks was dark and empty. My pockets were just as empty, because back then we only got paid at the end of the month.

My family lived in South Bend, Indiana. I didn't even have money for a bus ticket, so I decided to hitchhike home. Back then, you could hitchhike anywhere in uniform and never worry about getting a ride. It was actually quicker than taking a bus.

By the next morning (Thanksgiving day) I was standing on the side of Highway 31 in Kokomo, Indiana, about an hour from home. It was cold and starting to rain as I stuck out my thumb...

An old, rusted pickup truck pulled over, driven by an old farmer in shabby coveralls.

"Get in here Soldier, before you get your uniform wet! Boy, am I glad to see you today! Where you headed to?"

So I told him I was heading to South Bend.

We started talking, and I quickly learned that appearances were deceiving. He was a farmer, but he was also a retired Air Force Colonel, and flew bombers in WWII. I told him how much I respected that, because my Dad was also a Navigator with the 100th Bomb Group flying out of Thorpe Abbots in England.

”Damn, your Dad was in the 'Bloody Hundreth'?, I remember 'Black Week', and they took one hell of a beating. They must have had 80% casualties! He is lucky to be alive!”

He kept insisting that we go to his place and have a few beers and get something to eat.

He was very friendly, and I was beginning to think he was getting a little "too friendly", if you know what I mean. Something didn’t feel right......

So I hemmed and hawed for a while....

"Well, I appreciate the offer” I said, “but I really want to get to South Bend today for Thanksgiving. Just drop me off when you turn off the highway, and I will get another ride."

He started getting sad, and kept insisting I take a little time and go home with him.

"I really you to come meet my wife and daughter.” He said, “ They would love to meet you. You can just stay a little while, and I will take you all the way to South Bend later if you want. What kind of Paratrooper would refuse a good meal and a cold beer or two?”

So, I got to thinking……Farmers daughter?….. Cold Beer? What the hell, let’s give it a try!

He immediately turned off into a gas station.

"Don't go anywhere”, he said, “I just have to make a quick call and let them know we’re coming."

He comes back, throws a six pack of beer in my lap and winks at me, “The wife don’t like me drinking at home, but we can drink these on the way, and I got a bottle of moonshine out in the barn for later.”

We take off down the gravel highway, drinking beer and telling each other war stories. I was starting to feel more comfortable…(I hadn’t had breakfast, and the three beers on an empty stomach were giving me a good buz.!)

We pulled into the driveway of the quintessential Indiana farm with the big barn out back, three story Victorian style home in front, a bunch of milk cows in the corrals, and acres and acres of surrounding corn fields. The whole scene was surreal. I was so buzzed I thought I was in a movie scene…

We pull up behind the house, and his wife and daughter were already outside waiting for us. I got out of the truck and they both came up and hugged me like I was a long lost relative coming home from a war. I couldn’t believe how happy they were to see me, because I was just a stranger to them.

(Side note for those who are wondering. The farmer’s daughter was about 15 years old with pigtails and braces! …...So much for the farmer’s daughter fantasy.) HaHaHaHa!

But the beer buzz was working………..and I couldn’t wait to try the moonshine.

The whole scene was something I had never experienced before, being used to a lot of scorn for being a Soldier from Vietnam.

We walked into the kitchen and I smelled the roast turkey in the oven, and the apple pie…. all the other smells that mean Thanksgiving dinner.

I was so hungry I couldn’t say no. So I told them I would stay for dinner.

It was one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I ever had.

He and I made several trips to the barn that afternoon, checking out the moonshine!

To make a long story short, I got so drunk that I passed out and woke up on their living room couch early the next morning.

When I woke up the next morning, the first thing I noticed was a folded flag on the mantle of the fireplace, and then I noticed all the pictures on the mantle.

They had all these pictures of a young soldier like me, the basic training picture, the jump school picture…..and the pictures from Vietnam……

And then I noticed the morning sun shining through the window, filtered by the Gold Star Flag.

They had a framed citation for the Silver Star….awarded posthumously to their son for operations in Vietnam in 1969.

And then I knew why they wanted me to stay for Thanksgiving dinner.

I smelled the fresh coffee, and walked into the kitchen. Charlie was staring a the floor, and his wife was wiping tears from her eyes.

His daughter broke the ice with a smile. “I made you a turkey sandwich and some pie, if you have to go. But you are welcome to stay for a while longer. You said you lived on a ranch in Colorado, and we could go riding. I bet you haven't been on a horse in a long time.”

I smiled back at all of them...”I can stay here as long as you need me.” And they all broke out into big smiles.

I never did make it to South Bend that weekend. I spent the whole weekend with Charlie and his family, and did what I could to fill the horrible gap in theirs lives.

We became best friends through the years, and Charlie always called me his adopted son, and they became a second family for me. And I mourned Charlies passing the same as my own Father.

And I remember them every Thanksgiving.


"Building a wall will violate the rights of millions of illegals." [Nancy Pelosi]
Posts: 2240 | Location: N.E. Massachusetts | Registered: June 05, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of 229DAK
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The screen got blurry....

NRA Life Member, Rifle & Pistol Instructor and Range Safety Officer

“A man’s treatment of a dog is no indication of the man’s nature, but his treatment of a cat is. It is the crucial test. None but the humane treat a cat well.”
-- Mark Twain, 1902
Posts: 8140 | Location: Northern Virginia | Registered: November 04, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of m1009
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Yeah, my allergies flared up there for a while.
Touching story.
Posts: 862 | Registered: September 27, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of uvahawk
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Very touching for this long-retired Air Force officer who served during the Vietnam War Era and remembers those from different services who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Posts: 41 | Location: Low Country, South Carolina | Registered: November 28, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Resident Undertaker
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Really sad but an awesome story John

I'm getting chills typing this. You did good.


I am ready to "Make America Great Again."

Posts: 1623 | Location: People's Republik of Maryland | Registered: November 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Green grass and
high tides
Picture of old rugged cross
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A good read on such a day.

"Practice like you want to play in the game"
Posts: 16570 | Registered: September 21, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici
Picture of ChuckFinley
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Thank you for sharing.

NRA Endowment Member
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C.S. Lewis
Posts: 5355 | Location: District 12 | Registered: June 16, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Snapping Twig
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Yep, you got me!

God bless and Happy Thanksgiving!
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You got me also!!
Posts: 5818 | Location: Az | Registered: May 27, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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