Rick enlisted in the Marine Corps during his senior year of high school and went to boot camp immediately after graduation. Rick was selected to be part of a highly elite unit called Force Recon. In spite of his father's virtual condemnation of his military career, after surviving duty in Vietnam, Rick chose to make the USMC his career.
As a drill instructor, Rick's mission was to prepare his recruits to live through their own combat experiences. He was tough on the young men whose lives he held so worthy of the best training he could give them. He can never know whether his efforts actually saved any lives, but he lives today with the belief that it is so, that some men are alive today because he gave them his best.
Rick went on to serve our country for 20 years, retiring in 1986. For all those 20 years, Rick's father never forgave Rick's decision to make the USMC his career rather than staying on the family farm. However, it's highly likely that if Rick had chosen farming, he'd have been drafted and possibly killed in Vietnam. But his father never could see that possibility and so, never accepted, much less supported his oldest child's decision.
In 1977 I met Rick and began loving him. We had both been through difficult first marriages and had children from each of them. When we married in 1978, we did our best to meld our two families into one. My first husband gave up meaningful contact with our two kids when he could no longer use them to hurt me. At that point, my kids turned to Rick and he demonstrated unconditional love toward them. His kids never did accept me as my kids accepted him, but that didn't stop Rick's support of my efforts to be a good step-mother.
Now, many years down the line, Rick and I are retired, living busy lives in a small town of our choosing. We serve our community in a variety of volunteer positions and projects. Rick frequently draws on his military experience to organize community projects and to provide leadership when called upon. His positive attitude stems from his knowledge that life is precious and that he survived his time in Vietnam for a reason. He lives every day as though it might be his last and yet he also knows that each day provides new opportunities to be better, stronger, smarter, and more loving than the day before.
Rick was spit upon by strangers after returning from Vietnam. His father emotionally disowned him. His first wife left him. His own children have behaved badly over the years. And the small business Rick started after retiring from the Marine Corps failed financially after a dozen years of struggle, but Rick has never allowed these obstacles to drag him down into negativism.
For the past 33 years, Rick has inspired me to reach for my best. I know that without him as my partner, my life would not have been as rewarding and interesting as it has been. He is my hero.
Submitted by Anonymous
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