Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Old Man

This was forwarded to me.

As I came out of the supermarket that sunny day, pushing my cart of groceries towards my car. I saw an old man with the hood of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with the door open.

The old man was looking at the engine. I put my groceries away in my car and continued to watch the old gentleman from about 25 feet away.

I saw a young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arm, walking towards the old man. The old gentleman saw him coming, too, and took a few steps towards him. I saw the old gentleman point to his open hood and say something.

The young man put his grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac Escalade and then turned back to the old man. I heard him yell at the old gentleman, saying, “You shouldn't even be allowed to drive a car at your age.” And then with a wave of his hand, he got in his car and peeled rubber out of the parking lot.

I saw the old gentleman pull out his handkerchief and mop his brow as he went back to his car and again looked at the engine. He then went to his wife and spoke with her and appeared to tell her it would be okay. I had seen enough and I approached the old man. He saw me coming and stood straight and as I got near him I said, “Looks like you're having a problem.”

He smiled sheepishly and quietly nodded his head. I looked under the hood myself and knew that whatever the problem was, it was beyond me. Looking around I saw a gas station up the road and told the old man that I would be right back. I drove to the station and went inside and saw three attendants working on cars. I approached one of them and related the problem the old man had with his car and offered to pay them if they could follow me back down and help him.

The old man had pushed the heavy car under the shade of a tree and appeared to be comforting his wife. When he saw us, he straightened up and thanked me for my help. As the mechanics diagnosed the problem (overheated engine), I spoke with the old gentleman.

When I shook hands with him earlier, he had noticed my Marine Corps ring and had commented about it, telling me that he had been a Marine, too. I nodded and asked the usual question, “What outfit did you serve with?”

He had mentioned that he served with the First Marine Division at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal. He had hit all the big ones and retired from the Corps after the war was over. As we talked we heard the car engine come on and saw the mechanics lower the hood. They came over to us as the old man reached for his wallet, but was stopped by me and I told him I would just put the bill on my AAA card.

He still reached for the wallet and handed me a card that I assumed had his name and address on it and I stuck it in my pocket. We all shook hands all around again and I said my goodbye's to his wife. I then told the two mechanics that I would follow them back up to the station.

Once at the station I told them that they had interrupted their own jobs to come along with me and help the old man. I said I wanted to pay for the help, but they refused to charge me.

One of them pulled out a card from his pocket looking exactly like the card the old man had given to me. Both of the men told me then, that they were Marine Corps Reserves. Once again we shook hands all around and as I was leaving, one of them told me I should look at the card the old man had given to me. I said I would and drove off.

For some reason I had gone about two blocks when I pulled over and took the card out of my pocket and looked at it for a long, long time. The name of the old gentleman was on the card in golden leaf and under his name: “Congressional Medal of Honor Society.”

I sat there motionless looking at the card and reading it over and over. I looked up from the card and smiled to no one but myself and marveled that on this day, four Marines had all come together, because one of us needed help. He was an old man all right, but it felt good to have stood next to greatness and courage and an honor to have been in his presence.

Remember, OLD men like him gave you FREEDOM for America. Thanks to those who served....and those who supported them.

America is not at war.

The U.S. Military is at war.

America is at the MALL.


  1. reminds me of the time back in the mid 80's at a liquor store I helped a frail elderly main load his bottles into his van (safely after all some things were sacred in my 20's) I noticed his CMH license plate. he asked if I was doing anything and if I could follw him to bring in the booze and help hi drink a few. Being idealistic I followed him and helped him and sat drinking and talking the rest of the day with Greg "Pappy" Boyingon of Baa Baa Black Shhep fame. The real guy not the actor. We met and drank together on an almost weekly basis from then until, I was working as an ambulance dispatcher and we were called to pick Greg up and take him to Hospice. I scheduled it so I was off shift and I made sure I was the guy in the back with the gurney to take him on what we both knew was his final ride as a living man. we talked, joked and he left me with fond memories.

  2. I love this piece, and never tire of seeing it.

    And Ottar, you're certainly blessed to have been called friend by that good man to whom we owe so much.

    My dad fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

    God bless all who serve.


  3. I cannot imagine what they went through, But I can give them the respect they earned. Yes, as A.McSp said -- God bless all who serve.

    Anonymous Twit

  4. Fortunately, not all the youth are as disrespectful as the young man in the story. It is our duty (imho) to remind the youth of our Country's past since our public education system & their history books do not do our war heroes justice.

    On our base, there are three MOH memorials. My children and I read them and re-read them frequently. It is important that my kids know how some have sacrificed for their friends, strangers, and their Country. Check out The Congressional Medal of Honor Society. if you haven't. The stories will astound you, humble you, and make you proud to be an American.

    Recently in the Stars & Stripes (European edition, at least), there was a Heroes insert. The cover photo was of Staff SGT Jared Monti, whose MOH was awarded posthumously. One reader saw the photo, in which SSG Monti had a chew (smokeless tobacco) in his mouth. Sadly, this was the only issue the woman chose to comment upon in a letter to the Editor. Thankfully, many others have written in to express incredulity that this would be the focus of the first reader’s letter. Why not the man’s bravery, selfless service, and sacrifice? Incidents like that do make me realize that the story’s ‘young man’ is alive and well in the world.

    Below is a link from a friend's blog that shows that there ARE people who appreciate those currently in the U.S. Armed Forces. Having flown home from Germany and walked through this reception, I can attest to its profound effect on soldiers and their families.


  5. Lovely story, it saddens my heart that the young man is so rude. Even though my husband and I are young (early 30's) we would of stopped and offered help from my husband and I would of offered water and a snack to the wife, as I always carry water and a few snacks!