The year was 1978 I had finished a tour of duty overseas and was on my way back to the states. I had a couple months left on my enlistment and was planning to take a discharge from
the army. The plane sit down in Sydney Australia for refueling, I had an hour layover so I wandered around in the airport for a
Browsing around in a gift shop I picked up this hat and tried it on, the man behind the register grinned, “Looks good on ya mate,” he said. It really didn’t go well with my Class A uniform so I grinned, said thanks, laid down the hat and walked out.
I went back to the terminal and sit down waiting to board the plane when this man walks up and reach the hat to me, “You forgot your hat mate,” he said smiling. It’s not my hat sir, I didn’t buy it, I replied. “It’s yours, I took care of it mate,” he said then sit down beside me and started talking.
During the course of a short conversation he told me that he had pulled two tours in Viet Nam; he lowered his head and there was a bit of sadness in his voice when he said, “I took a hit in sixty-eight that got me a ticket home.” As he stood up he laid the hat in my lap and smiled, “From one soldier to another, wear it well my friend and God speed mate,” he said.
I shook his hand and thanked him; a feeling of sadness and respect ran through my heart as I watched him walk away with a limp . . . I boarded the plane wearing this hat.
In February of 1981 we on patrol through the jungles in South America, my best friend who liked to tease me about my hat told me I needed to wear my lucky hat; I took it out of my rut sack and put it on. A few hours later we encountered some small arms fire . . . he was one of the three that didn’t make it back.
My children and grandchildren at some point has played with this old hat; it has seen some good times and some bad times. It has been through the fires of hell and in the house of God; it has seen the birth of new life and the death of the old.
This hat had a fifteen dollar price tag on it, not worth much at all, now worn and dirty it has no cash value at all, but . . .