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My sweet wife and I were waiting for our order at a “California Pizza Place” in the University Mall in Orem, Utah.  Hey that’s the name of the place.  We were there, because I’d been given a ‘free’ pizza chit earlier that day when I’d been in for my monthly visit with my VA psyche Doc. It seems that the manager of the place wanted to thank the local veterans and active duty people for their service rendered. After doing my due diligence and discovering that it was, indeed for a ‘free’ pizza and soft drink, my wife still had to talk and beg to get me to leave the house, my hidey hole, strap up, and go the 17 miles for a free meal. 
I’m not broke, and not hurtin’ financially like a lot of guys from my era (VietNam) are but I still have a deep distrust of the very society that I returned to back in January of 1970 and then again in 1972. 
I was my normal self, in the restaurant, hyper-vigilant, jumpy, watching everything and everybody, making eye contact with every person who came through the door, and my back to the wall close to the rear entrance.
We’d been waiting about 10 minutes when a new, fresh from boot camp Marine walked in with his wife.  A Green through and through FNG… Dress Blues, National Defense Service Ribbon, SharpShooters Badge, high and tight, mirror gloss on those black dress shoes, people I went back to 1967 so fast I wondered what the hell was going on.  I glanced at my wife and she was sitting there and tears were rolling down her cheeks ,  and I realized that I was actually looking back 45 + years at myself on my first leave, after boot camp and then it was called ITR, before, whatever speciality training, you might have gotten. 
I watched as he and his date, I later discovered it was his wife, were seated, and he presented the same meal chit that I had been given, the hostess who seated them looked at the card and I watched as she flipped the card over in her hand a time or two, and proceeded to give the kid a ration of shit about active, versus veterans service she was pretty smug, he maintained his composure, his wife however, started to blush a little, and I started to get more than a little angry.  The hostess wisely decided to take it up with the shift manager, after a suggestion from me on my way to the rest room.  The shift manager told the hostess that the man in uniform got a free ride also but his wife would have to pay for her meal.  I still don’t understand that reasoning,  Why my wife and I both ate at no charge but the active duty Marine’s wife had to pay???  No problem.  I’m a Marine, a combat vet, I adapt, overcome, and lead, I do the best I can with what I have to work with, and if I’m the best I’ve got to work with we’re in deep shit, right???  No.  We start over. We adapt, We overcome, and We succeed, when others fail.
Up to this point anger was working itself into a rage and I was starting to lose control, the main reason that I didn’t want to come to places like this to begin with.  My sweet wife could see what was happening and just placed her hand over mine on the table, and defused me right there.  Now also up to that point the only words I had spoken had been to my wife, and my quiet suggestion to the hostess.  After we had eaten, and our server returned with our uneaten pizza in its box. I told her I wanted the Marines’ charge slip.  She told me he didn’t have one, it was like pulling teeth to get out of them that they were charging his wife $12.57 for a soft drink and a salad. I finally convinced her and the shift manager that I would pay the tab, which I did and left a tip for my server.  Our Server asked if we wanted them to tell the Marine who covered their tab, we said no, and I thought he’ll know another Marine has his six, another Marine has overwatch, and maybe when he’s away from his wife and family he won’t be as concerned about how they’re treated by the citizens of the country he’s defending.
As we started to leave my wife walked by their booth and introduced herself, and shook their hands, and all of a sudden the emotions that I’ve been suppressing for 40 plus years came up. I stood there, absolutely speechless,  my bladder was right behind my eyes, if I’d have opened my mouth I’d have started bawling like Mrs. Smiths baby boy Johnny.  He must’ve thought I’m speechless as I dumbly pointed at the age faded EGA or buzzard, ball and fishhook on my left forearm, mumbled something that might’ve sounded like Semper Fi or enjoy your pie or something like that, turned and left the place.  My wife laughed at me all the way home, told me she never seen before, at a loss for words, I had the words, just didn’t want to look like a boob saying them.

Total Posts: 43

You done good Sid. A lot of us share your pain and PRIDE. Have a Happy Thanksgiving but, please stay home.

Total Posts: 106

Brother, you and your family have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING, AND I thank you for your service.

Semper Fi.
For God & Country.
OOHRAH, as the young people say.


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