Sixteen million American service members served in World War II, and these brave men and women are getting up there in age, with most being in their 80’s, 90’s, and some are 100 plus years old. Having the opportunity to meet one of these veterans can be a once in a lifetime experience. As we approach 2017, there are only 558,000 World War II veterans alive, according to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and many of these veterans rely on the financial support from the VA, and family.
In the case of Dick Bristol, a World War II veteran, having enough money to get by is a struggle with little to no room for unexpected expenses. So when he had a flat tire and was in need of help, two police officers from the Oro Valley Police Department decided to go above and beyond and get Mr. Bristol the help and the tire he needed.
Sergeant Mike Gracie, Officer Kevin Larter, and Officer Brandon Johnson installed Mr. Bristol’s spare tire because AAA was unable to respond to the stranded World War II veteran. Sergeant Gracie, while speaking with Mr. Bristol, told him that he needed a new tire and driving around for an extended time with just a spare was not safe. While being interviewed by KVOA, Sergeant Gracie said, “We jacked up his car and put the tire on it. But while talking to him, he was a little opposed to going to get a new tire, even though we advised him those spare tires are only good for about 50 miles.”
The three Oro Valley Police Officers escorted Mr. Bristol to Discount Tires where a store representative had informed him that three of his tires would need to be replaced. Before Mr. Bristol could respond, the three officers decided to buy the tires for Mr. Bristol. Noting the significance of being able to meet and help a World War II veteran, Sergeant Gracie said, “You don’t meet WWII veterans very regularly. We can’t repay people like that. The most we can hope for is to show some gratitude.”
While these three officers were helping out Mr. Bristol, their actions did not go unnoticed by local residents. Jeremy Upham snapped a picture of two of the officers and Mr. Bristol chatting while the new tires were being installed. On his Facebook post, Mr. Upham said, “The squad all came together and bought new tires for this gentleman’s car. The officers were incredibly humble and said, ‘hey, we gotta take care of each other right.’ Upham also noted that, “These selfless acts of kindness happen every day in law enforcement.” A very true statement as it often seems we only hear about the bad police officers or an officers actions when a tragedy takes place.
So here I am sitting at a tire shop in Oro Valley AZ when 3 OVPD officers come in, all of which I happen to know. I said…
Sergeant Gracie, a man well aware of the importance of showing appreciation to our World War II veterans said, “You don’t meet WWII veterans very regularly. We can’t repay people like that. The most we can hope for is to show some gratitude.” It is this gratitude, which most veterans seek. A simple thank you for the service they have provided to the United States of America.
World War II veterans are a rare breed and we ought to make sure to take every opportunity to truly appreciate the sacrifices these men and women made. The military in which they served is much different than what we see now, and many lack the financial and emotional support to get through the day.
In a day and age when it is cool to disrespect America, the flag, and the National Anthem, a story such as this serves as the perfect example of why we honor our veterans and stand for the National Anthem. Regardless of one’s politics, it must be imperative to place petty differences aside and show respect when it is deserved. The Oro Valley Police Department ought to be extremely proud of these officers, and they should serve as an example to others as to the many benefits a law enforcement officer provides to a community.