Looking into the eyes of a Vet

  • Published
  • By Maj. Jon Quinlan
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Looking into the bright eyes of a World War II Marine Corps vet, I intensely listened as he described his experiences during the war. His voice cracked a bit as he detailed those days so many years ago.

The gentleman was in his 90's but still was able to vividly describe to me what being a veteran is all about. Sacrifice, service, dedication, mental toughness; these words best describe the efforts of thousands of veterans. Three hundred of them currently live in the Norman Veterans Center only 25 minutes from Tinker AFB.

Some of our Reservists, Guardsmen and I made the drive to visit these humble veterans Dec. 23 for their annual Christmas Party. Members of the reserve units here helped raise the money to buy most of the presents for these veterans and they have been doing it since 2000. The best part of the program dubbed, "Angel Tree" was going to the veterans and handing them their gifts personally.

As we passed out Christmas presents, food and a little holiday cheer, I realized that I received a gift too. I got the chance to learn that service to our country does not come without cost and should never be taken for granted. I learned every vet has a special place in his or her heart for our servicemen and that we, as younger generation service members must carry out a responsibility to take care of these warriors. I learned to listen, and I learned to respect these veterans no matter what their age or condition.

The Marine vet thanked me for listening to his story. His story is like so many of those veterans before us, who made it possible for us to serve today and for our nation to be free.

I hope they had a Merry Christmas, I know that I did.