“I was in Vietnam in ’63 and ’64 and that is where I grew up. We would say, ‘When I die I know I am going to heaven because I spent my time in hell.’ That was true. No one knows how bad it was. We didn’t know who was shooting at who, the Vietcong or Vietnamese, and there were shootouts in the streets of Saigon that almost got us. I was a cook and one morning a tank was pointed at us in the mess hall because some of the Vietnam Navy were in there eating. The sergeant gave me a .45 told me to put it on. What was I going to do with a pistol looking down the barrel of a tank? I thought I was going to die that day.
I grew up in Michigan and when I went back in 1964, I didn’t want to tell people I was in the military because I didn’t like getting spit on. I didn’t re-enlist and moved to Naples, Florida to get away. I was a professional bowler and took care of bowling alleys. I was a troubleshooter for a company for a few hundred years. I was transferred to Orlando, Houston and Pheonix. I got out of it and moved to Las Vegas and started an IT company. We retired and came here.
I just have fun because I am not long in this world. I have had about 30 surgeries. My intestines blew, my stomach blew and I died twice. My arteries have been replaced and my ankles are plastic. I shouldn’t be here today. I lost a daughter and my first wife to cancer caused by chemicals. My wife, Jamie, has issues with cancer.
All that I have been through makes me thankful for every day I am here. When you turn 75 it is time to have fun and enjoy life and not care how you dress. I love working this job at the Fairhope beach and making people smile. I should be paying them to let me work here. I try to give a little humor to help people enjoy their time here. I have had people come back and want to talk. One man said I have become a father figure to him and he comes here often to talk to me. Life doesn’t get better than that.”