Angel for a Marine

A Marine has an extraordinary encounter with an old man who might have been much more than he seemed

At one point in my Marine Corps career, I was stationed in London, England. I worked at the NAVACTS building at Grovesnor Square. The American Embassy was right across the street. On my days off, I would often spend time in Hyde Park, which wasn't too far from my quarters.

On one particular mild night, I was sitting on a bench and just relaxing.

After about five minutes, an elderly gentleman of around 70, dressed in a long green overcoat, asked if I would mind if he sat down for a minute or two. I told him no. He was a rather pleasant person and I didn't see any harm in it. I noticed that he also had around his neck a gray scarf. He had long gray hair that came down to his shoulders. He was slight of build and he wore no shoes. I thought he was just some old drunk that came to sit awhile.

After about 10 minutes, he just started talking about nothing in particular. As he talked, though, I found myself really listening to him. He talked about his family that he once had, the small son he had to leave, all the people that he knew and the places that he used to visit. His voice was rather deep, yet calming. It sounded very familiar to me, like I'd heard him talk before somewhere.

Then he became very quiet. He turned to me and asked me if I had any change to spare.

He needed it because he said he had a long journey ahead and didn't want to go there empty-handed. I told him yes, I would be glad to give him what I had and that I would like to buy him a good pair of shoes for his trip.

As I reached into my pocket, he put his hand on my arm. I turned my head to look at him.

He had the warmest smile on his face, and I could tell he was crying. I turned my face away from him because I was starting to cry, too. I was becoming really emotional over this and I didn't know why.

His hand was still on my arm. My face still turned away from him. He said, "There is no need to do this for me, Bobby. Your kindness is enough. We will meet again." With that I turned around and he was gone.

Now I never told this old man my first name. Never. In fact, I never told him my name -- period. The really weird thing is that, as a child growing up in Richmond, Virginia, everyone used to call me "Bobby." Especially my father. (He died when I was six and a half.)

Two and a half years later, I was stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, B Company, 1st. Bat. 6th Marines. At one point, we were involved in one of the many so-called "war problems" that all Marines have to go through at one time or another. On this one particular week, we were in the Croatan National Forest.

I was shaving one day. I had this small picture of Mary Ann Mobley (a former Miss America) always with me. Anyway, I would tack her picture up on this tree, next to my little metal mirror and "talk" with her.

I'm just talking away and the picture falls down. There was no wind that day. None whatsoever. I tacked it back up again. Again it fell down.

I knelt down to pick it up and was about to stand up when I felt someone touch my arm and say, "Bobby." Still kneeling, I turned my head and just froze in position. At the very second, right after I heard that voice, a bullet hit that mirror dead center. One of the Marines had accidentally discharged a live round from his M1.

Needless to say, he caught hell for that. I started shaking like a leaf. I went back to my tent, sat down and wondered what had just really happened. Then I realized that the voice I had heard in London on that bench was the same one that saved my life, just a short while ago. To this day, I honestly and truly believe that the old man I sat on that bench in London with was my father, and the voice I heard in that forest was his...

and this was and (has been) his way of protecting me. My guardian angel, if you will. 

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