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Army Recruiter Pays It Forward for Vietnam Veteran

By Joshua Blair, Columbus A&PA Columbus Recruiting Battalion

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When life gets hectic and we get caught up in our day to day routine, we sometimes forget about the little things in life that really make life worth living.

Paying it forward at a restaurant by purchasing a struggling family’s meal or helping an elderly person load their groceries can change someone’s day or even the course of their entire life by one simple random act of kindness. Sgt. 1st Class Brian Bailey, Recruiter with the Columbus Recruiting Battalion’s Cincinnati Company, paid it forward with exactly that, one kind action.

Bailey, a cavalry scout and a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart - Chapter 156 Clermont County, OH, ran into a friendly Vietnam Veteran at one of the chapter’s meetings.  Bailey  didn’t know what drew him so close to the veteran.

“Maybe it’s because we’re both Cavalry Scouts and Purple Heart recipients," said Bailey. "Maybe it was because we both served in a combat zone.”  

It was something special enough to create a lifetime bond between the two.

The Vietnam War Veteran named Rufus A. Waugh opened up to  Bailey like they had known each other for years. They had conversations like they were old buddies who spent time in the trenches together. Waugh told Bailey about how he was drafted into the Vietnam War at a time when veterans and service members were assaulted, shunned, outcasts and publicly humiliated over their time in service to the country. He reminisced on how he sustained injuries in combat and how he never had a chance earn his Cavalry Spurs. This struck a nerve with Bailey. He was convinced that this man deserved to have his Cavalry Spurs. How could he make this right? How could this brave man, after 50 years, never have had the honor of being a part of this proud tradition? A tradition that dates back to the days of horse Cavalry, an important validation of the skills a Trooper has achieved, receiving one’s Cavalry Spurs.

“I reached out to the current regimental command team at the 11th Armored Calvary Regiment," Bailey said. "They were happy to graciously provide Mr. Waugh with Spurs and an induction certificate into the Order of the Spur, the same unit he deployed and fought with in Vietnam.  I was able to present the spurs and certificate to Mr. Waugh at Milford City Hall when Milford City was recognized as a Purple Heart Community. The opportunity to keep the traditions and heraldry alive for this fellow Cavalryman, and to show gratitude for his service before mine, is both personally and professionally one of the highlights of my time in the community here.”

Bailey issued a challenge to all service members both prior service or active, "I would challenge all of you to do something to make tomorrow a little better than today for someone."

It's the little things that sometimes go a long way.

"The chance to keep paying it forward and take care of each other transcends age and conflict when it comes to the Veteran community," Bailey said.  "I didn’t do this for recognition, other than to do right by this gentleman. I just thought I’d share that you’re never alone or forgotten once you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.”