Wonderful Gentleman

During a brief break in the almost continual rain of late I managed to get the dogs out for 75 minutes of walking.  In this case we walked east on East Barge Drive then north on Riven,across East Birch Creek Drive and on north on Lewis & Clark.  Its very sparsely populated along Lewis & Clark so its a great place to let the dogs really wander.  I made it as far as the sharp bend to the Easy when to my surprise I heard a car approaching so I corralled the dogs to await its passage.  As is the case up here we waved at each other but then the gentleman driving stopped his vehicle to say “Hi”; I of course responded in like and we struck up a conversation.  I told him I was newly moved into the area and living my dream of retiring to ‘The Last Frontier’.  He asked me where I’d moved from and I told him SE Michigan.  At this point his eyes lit up and he shut off his car; come to find out he’d been born and raised on a farm just to the east of Leslie, Michigan which is a bit north of Jackson!  He was pleased I knew where the small burgh of Leslie is in the state; because I knew of it I guessed his farm was dairy in nature which he confirmed along with pigs.  I discovered he’d left the farm at 18, joined the Marines, went into the infantry and did two tours in Viet Nam.  I thanked him for his service; then he showed me his left arm which has a prosthesis from the elbow down.  He was shot in his left elbow which completely tore up the joint such that it was not going to recover.  He told me his uncle had served in the Corps as well and had actually survived the landing on Okinawa.  He appreciated the fact I knew of this battle along with many others in the Pacific during WW II and understood it was a major feat just to have survived that terrible battle.

He had a wonderful Black Lab named ‘Black Jack’ who was a real teddy bear; we of course hit it off right away and he also appreciated the fact that I was a dog person.  We formally introduced ourselves and I discovered his name is Ron Taylor and he lives at Mile 92 of the Parks Highway.  He’s lived in Alaska since 1966 and has seen huge changes take place in the last thirty years.  I was impressed because he lived up here before the Parks Highway was put through to Fairbanks.  The more we talked the more I realized here was a man who embodied all that’s made this country great!  He grew up farming, went into the service, served his country, was severely wounded, recovered and has worked right up until retiring a few years back.  He had no regrets for anything he’s endured and is just glad to have the chance to visit friends up here and talk walks with his beloved Black Jack.  Although he wouldn’t realize it he’s quite an amazing man and someone this country needs many more of especially in these trying times.  When we finally ended our conversation we invited each other to stop over some time; I told him I’d wave to him when I aw him and maybe we could get together again.  I’d love to really hear of his experiences in depth!  Such men are becoming fewer and fewer with time and that’s truly a shame… 

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