I keep a pair of Army boots in a glass display case at my place and people always ask about them, “hey what are these boots for?” I always have to repeat the same story, “those were my Grandfather’s Army boots. He did two tours of Vietnam in those boots. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it back from the second tour. His unit was walking through the jungle doing recon and they were spotted by Vietnamese soldiers.
There was a gun fight and one of his buddies got hit. He threw him on his shoulder and screamed, “No man left behind! Let’s move!” As he was running he heard a “click.” He had stepped on a land mine and managed to throw his friend just as it exploded. He saved his friend's life. That same friend comes over every year for Christmas and brings candied yams. He always tells me what a hero my Grandfather was. It's hard for me not to tear up when he tells it. When his unit came back in the area, they found those boots perfectly intact, they landed right next to each other near a sugar cane tree. After the explosion, it was all that remained."
There is always the same response, “I’m so sorry.” Then I say, “It’s okay…I’m just fuckin’with you. My grandfather is fine, he’s gambling in Reno this weekend. Those were his uniform inspection boots, but that story is way too boring. He did do two tours in Vietnam though.”