"In a Determined Way"

Recently I met an interesting man while I was doing my Introduction speech for tourists about to board the USS Growler at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space museum, where I volunteer.

One of the main reasons that I volunteer is to meet the fascinating people who literally come from all over the world to visit this museum. At the end of my speech about the submarine, most tourists just proceed on to explore it. But if I'm lucky, some will hang back to ask me questions. And I will answer them gladly, and then ask my own.

So on this one lucky day a tall, elderly, well-dressed, silver-haired gentleman walking with the aid of a cane stopped to ask me insightful questions in a light British accent. When he was done I asked him if he had served. He replied that he had been a U.S. Army Green Beret (now called Special Forces) officer during the Vietnam war. He answered a lot of questions from me about his duty training ARVN soldiers at forward bases in the jungle. I asked him if he had been under hostile fire often. He replied in a very understated, British manner that he'd only been attacked one time "in a determined way." He described a night when his base was overrun by North Vietnamese troops. It was a night of close combat. The only weapon he had that night was a shotgun.

Well, the reason for the British manner was that after the war he left the service, became an attorney and moved to London where he's resided for the last 40 years.

This is the kind of fascinating people who are walking among all of us every day. Next time you want to honk at a slow-moving silver-haired driver, or get impatient at how long he's taking at the checkout counter, remember that.