I saw him from his left side. I could see the letters “M C’ on his blue ball cap. My ball cap says “U S Navy - SCPO.” Eventually, I saw all four letter “U S M C” at least two inches tall in gold embroidery.
I paid for the fresh peaches, tomatoes and green beans Mrs. Chief picked up at this farmer’s market and proceeded to put them in the car while she went to find her mother. In the parking lot I spotted a red pickup with a license plate that only a career Marine would have.
He was just finished paying for his fresh strawberries so I asked him, “That your red pickup?”
“Yes,” he replied.
“How many years,” I queried.
“Holy shit,” I said, “ I only did 21.”
“That’s a long time.”
So we chatted a bit. His 32 years had taken him to a tour in Kuwait, two tours in Tunisia, two aboard the Forrestal. He was on the Forrestal in ’67 when they had the big fire.
As we parted, he said, “Thank you for your service.”
I was somewhat surprised by that, because he had served more than fifty percent longer than I. I said, “But you gave more than I did.”
“But some gave more than either of us,” he said.
On that note we waved good-bye.