A Vietnam veteran contacted Hill Air Force Base wanting to thank an "Angel in Camo" who recently came to his assistance at a crucial time in his life.
Sid Stroud Jr. found himself lost on the side of a road, somewhere near Santaquin, Utah, after heading home after a visit to the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City. A man, dressed in camouflage with sergeant's stripes on his sleeve, stopped to ask him if he needed help. It was fortunate for Stroud that the stranger in uniform stopped that night.
Stroud tells the story this way:
"Like so many people in the world, I have had some issues, like severe depression. Ten years ago I tried to commit suicide by hanging. I survived because my ten-year-old son cut me down. Then I had to go through therapy and deal with the shame.
"In February 2010, depression struck hard again, and I stopped eating and taking all my meds. Somehow, I made it to the Salt Lake Veterans Affairs hospital with suicide on my mind and a heart rate of 154. They wondered how I made the 300 mile round trip on my own, alive.
"After a stay in the hospital, I was stabilized and then determined to no longer be a risk to myself, but to be sure to continue my meds and counseling.
"It was a return to what I called my 'normal level' the past 10 years," he said.
Stroud describes that condition as "something missing, an emptiness inside, like having no spirit or no soul, total emptiness, always seeking something to fill the void I felt inside."
He continues, "So that evening as I'm heading home from the hospital I decided to find some Mexican food." He zigzagged all over town until he found a suitable place, because he didn't want to eat near the freeway.
Then it happened. He got lost, really lost - a condition he describes as uncharacteristic for him. He stopped to look at the stars by the side of the road to gain his bearings when the sergeant stopped.
He describes his unknown roadside assistant this way: "(The) Good Samaritan was an E5 sergeant wearing camos, last name starts with an 'S.' I was so confused at the time, I can't remember.
"He's about 5 foot 7 inches, 150 pounds, brown hair... with a real look of character." Stroud doesn't know why he told him but he said, "I'm a Vietnam Vet and I am lost."
His response: 'No problem, sir. I have a map."
He then said something as he handed him the map that had great impact on Stroud: "Sir, I would like to thank you for your service to your country. You have my highest respect."
Stroud says, "I didn't know what to think or feel. It was so unexpected. He then showed me the way to go. I asked him to lead me back to the freeway, please."
The two made their way down the mountainous road to a Santaquin convenience store where they both got out of their vehicles. Stroud asked him to come around to the back of his vehicle in order to talk to him with a little privacy.
Looking him straight in the eye, Stroud said he told him, "For years I have resented all GIs, resented all yellow ribbons. I won't even touch one. I have resented all the fanfare. For this I am so ashamed. No one has ever thanked me for my service in such a sincere, personal manner. No one!"
Stroud told him he had done more for him than he could ever imagine. "Sergeant," he said, "Attention! I salute you," and delivered what he describes as the most willing salute he had ever given anyone. Stroud then hugged the man and told him he loved him.
That was not the end of it. A moment later, Stroud threw his things to the ground and leaned over the hood of his car, putting his head down. The sergeant noticed his look of despair and asked what was wrong now.
"I've locked my keys in my car!" It was the third time in two days.
After a long wait for assistance, Stroud said the sergeant remained with him until his car was opened and the sergeant left on his way to Northern Utah, quietly disappearing.
Stroud reports the incident has changed him.
"I have now come full circle. He no less than carried me off a field of battle, delivered me to safety and helped destroy a fierce monster that had dwelled in me too long -- he truly helped save my life. He returned a light of life that had been gone from me for so long. He is a Soldier, a man, a humanitarian. He is my hero."
Stroud says his wife has decided the sergeant deserves to be described as "an Angel in Camo."
If anyone knows who the unknown sergeant is or can contribute information as to his identity, please contact the Hilltop Times and the information will be passed along to Stroud and his family.
"I sure would like to know who he is," Stroud said. And to thank him.
Contact the Hilltop Times at email@example.com or by phone at (801) 777-4557.