Small World by David Tate

Last week as I was checking out the local newspaper, I saw a close up picture of a chest full of medals that was used for a story about Blacksburg's "Welcome Home" parade for veterans.

Those medals were impressive for sure and the shot showed them off well. Unfortunately, the shot left out the one medal that truly epitomizes what sacrifice and honor means. I figured out the omission when I realized the chest full of medals belonged to retired Marine Colonel Wesley Fox; not an unknown name to me.

Rewind 27 years to a much younger David Tate, as a buck private in the US Marine Corps. One day I was sitting at the base dentist office on Quantico, waiting for a standard checkup, when in walks this imposing Marine with a chest full of ribbons the top one being this baby blue ribbon adorned by white stars. I knew this immediately to be the Congressional Medal of Honor.

It's difficult to describe my emotions as this Marine walked in for that ribbon on his chest was one I had never seen in person before. You just do not see very many people, especially active duty Marines, sporting the Medal of Honor.

In a brief moment I approached the Marine and begged his pardon for I had to meet him. As I did, I looked down at his name tag and ever since then, I have had a connection to Wesley Fox.

So to open the paper the other day and see Colonel Fox welcoming veterans in Blacksburg brought back a ton of memories. I had spent quite a bit of time researching his exploits in Vietnam that earned him the Medal of Honor; often times revisiting the story as it dulled from my memory.

Colonel Fox has no clue what our chance encounter meant to me. A meaning reinforced once again as I realized he served as Assistant Commandant to the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets at one time. It really shows how small the world can be as ones' years and experience begin to stack up.