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Old Soldiers, Hidden Wounds

Looking at the guy, I'd have never guessed he was a hero.

I'd worked for the customer before. He's sixty-something, graying, average build and demeanor. He was baking fruitcake when I arrived yesterday (kid you not). His modest house is always neat and orderly, like you'd expect of many veterans. I don't chit-chat much with my customers generally. I'm there to work, not be their new BFF.

Well, I kinda wish I did. I don't "oogle" my customer's possessions, but some things catch my eye. Yesterday, I noted my customer had his Navy medals and ribbons displayed on the wall of his den. As a former Marine grunt, I recognized some of them, like the Sea Service Deployment ribbon that I have. What I sure in the hec never earned was on the top of his display. It was the Navy Cross.

Everyone is familiar with The Congressional Medal Of Honor (CMH). Well, the Navy Cross is close to that in terms of bravery and selfless dedication to service and country. My customer, that old guy, at one point demonstrated more guts, fortitude and character than most of us ever will. Looking at the faded ribbons, I guessed that he was a Viet Nam era vet. Combat always has specific demons that follow you home. 'Nam also had some demons waiting at home. Dark shadows lurked in the airport, at the job interview, and alone at night when you closed your eyes.

As he was finishing baking in the other room, I settled up our account. He wiped his hands and we shook as I parted. His kitchen smell so nice. It was so peaceful there. He's earned at least that much.

I often do thank my customers that are Veterans. He just seemed so content. What he did to earn that Navy Cross was his business. But I am very, very grateful. And I give thanks.


I could not have left without finding out more. It is a rare honor to meet a man who has earned that award and is still alive to possibly share the details with you.
Let's just hope that he truly is as content as he seemed, and yes, it was his business. You did good Winston.
Nice story.

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