Veterans Day this month my wife, a fellow veteran and I, decided to go to Twigs Restaurant in Farmington Station for dinner.

The table adjacent to us was a couple dinning together. They finished their dinner, got up to leave and thanked us for our service. We finished dinner and asked our waitress for our check. She said, “It’s been taken care of.” With a baffled look on my face I asked “what?” She said “yes by the couple who just left.” What a pleasant surprise!

I served at Udorn, Thailand during Vietnam. On returning to the states in San Francisco I took off my uniform and traveled back to Wisconsin in my civilian clothes. That was not unusual for returning military personal back then. Doing that we avoided any unpleasant comments, looks or gestures one might receive while in uniform.

I was in my mid 50s, some 30 years after my service in Thailand before I heard the words, “Thank you for your service!” It was at a book signing I attended in Salt Lake City. The thank you came from another veteran who wrote the book, “The Battle of Mogadishu,” and he saw a lot worse than I did. Walking out to my car thinking about what I just heard I was filled with emotion realizing this was the first time that it was ever said to me. I have heard it many times since then now that attitudes have changed regarding our veterans from all wars. Some veterans say the “thank you” is being over used. I would never discourage anyone from thanking a veteran for their service. The best reply a veteran can give back is “it was my honor to serve you!”

To the couple in the restaurant, I hope you get the paper. We “thank you” for paying it forward to us and somewhere down the road we will repay your kind gesture by paying it forward when the opportunity presents itself. Thank you again.

James Wypijewski


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