An Encounter with the Marines
When you work in a small community as a police officer, most of the time you get to know the people you deal with on a first name basis. One night while driving around checking buildings and looking for the occasional drunk driver, I got behind a pick up that was driving forward but had the reverse lights on. I kind of looked at it for a minute thinking to myself, “that seems odd.” I went ahead and activated my emergency lights and sounded my air horn for the driver to pull over, which he did immediately.
I approached the vehicle and saw a U.S. Marine sticker on the drivers rear window and thought of my brother who was in the Marine Corps at the time stationed at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. I spoke to the driver as I got to the window and asked for his driver’s license and vehicle registration just like always, but this was different.
I noticed the uniform, the battle fatigues of a U.S. Marine with decorations and ribbons on the chest area of the uniform. I asked the young Marine if he was aware the reverse lights were on while he was driving forward on his truck. He assured me that he knew but he had just gotten home from Iraq and had not had a chance to fix them yet. I received his license and registration from him with a “there you go, sir”. I told him I would check his status and be right back.
His information was correct and nothing was out of the ordinary, so I returned to the pick up truck and handed him his paperwork back and asked him if he had anything to drink that evening, as I smelled a slight odor of alcohol from the truck. He looked at me straight in the face and told me he just came from the V.F.W. where they had bought him one beer and he was so sorry he was driving after having had anything to drink. I asked if he would take a portable breath test and he agreed.
The test came back well below the legal limit and I apologized for the inconvenience and advised him he was “free to go now and drive safely”. He looked at me and said thank you for my concern and he appreciated everything I was doing for him and the community.
This just stunned me. Here is this U.S. Marine thanking me for my stopping him and checking to see if he was sober enough to drive. I said “you don’t need to thank me, I should be thanking you”. He laughed and told me, “You just thanked me by making sure I was safe and getting home tonight”. I stood there for a second and he said to me, “it’s your job to keep me and my family safe and it’s my job to keep you and yours safe”.
I guess I never really thought of it that way. I gave him a “Semper Fi, Marine” and got an “Oorah” as he drove away. I sat in my squad car for a few minutes to think about what just happened and say a prayer for the men and women serving in our military and on our streets here at home. This young man showed me why I do the job I do. I kept him safe so he could keep me safe. God bless our troops!
By Rick S.