By James Matessino: Guest columnist
In July 1968, I was a Vietnam-era veteran traveling from Louisiana to my next assignment at Sacramento’s McClellan Air Force Base.
I was driving my old Ford Comet, determined not to go to California without wheels.
I made it to visit a gent I was stationed with in Turkey. He was stationed in Lubbock.
After the visit, I took off in my clunker, and barely made it into Clovis. I pulled into the first service station I could find to see if someone there could help.
I met this older gentleman/mechanic who told me his son was in Vietnam. This man spent hours working on my jalopy, trying to get it to pump oil up to the valves. I was over his shoulder all day as he fixed my car as best he could.
He could not stop talking about his son and how proud he was of his son, and of people like me serving in time of war, and of course, how very proud he was of his son.
After working on my car all day, he did not charge me a dime. He hugged me, shook my hand, hugged me again, and told me to get on down the road. Eventually, I made it to my destination.
Unfortunately for me, I don’t know this man’s name. I don’t know his son’s name, or their family name.
I do know Clovis, New Mexico, was a fine town that treated me well, where I had the good fortune to meet one of the finest men I have ever met.
I hope his son made it home OK. I hope he is still here, because I owe this man more than he will ever know.
I have told the story of the mechanic in Clovis to my family and friends many, many times.
To the mechanic, his son and their family, and to the fine people of Clovis, thank you so much, and may God bless you and yours.