William Schick has received comments from strangers over the years about his military service, but nothing like what happened earlier this week.
Schick, 88, was eating at the Mandarin House restaurant in Sonora when a young man came up to him and shook his hand. Schick — a 30-year Marine — had a cap indicating his military service with him.
The man who he described as “a nice, tall young gentleman and clean as can be” came up to him, asked to shake his hand and thanked him for his service.
“He said, ‘Your dinner is paid for.’ I was shocked. Before I could get my composure, he was out the door,” Schick said. “There are several people who have thanked me for my service. That’s going above and beyond that.”
A combat veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, he said he was especially moved by this gesture. The good Samaritan didn’t give his name or any other information before he left.
A resident in the Big Hill area, Schick joined the service in 1941 and his tours overseas took him to famous campaigns like Guadalcanal in the Pacific Theater, Inchon in Korea and Da Nang in Vietnam.
He remembered himself and his fellow Marines receiving a less-than-welcome return from Vietnam in many cases.
The man who offered the good deed “wasn’t even born when I was in the service,” Schick said.
“I wish I could tell somebody, explain how much that meant — that meant more to me than any parade,” he said. “You could see, he wasn’t even a doctor or a lawyer, or someone who could afford it.”
Schick said he wants the man and his family to know how much the gesture meant, especially in a world where bad news and bad deeds dominate the headlines.
“It makes me proud. I’m glad I served, for families like his,” Schick said.