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So I was asked to participate in the Navy League's American Patriot Awards this year.
One of the main reasons is that my father-in-law, Lt. General, Hank C. Stackpole, US Marine Corps (retired) was one of the recipients along with our family friend Jim Nabors. It was an incredible evening with some amazing people in attendance.
The former Governor of Hawaii, Ben Cayetano , was there and spoke on behalf of Jim.
And seated at our table was Captain Gerald Coffee, US Navy (retired) who was a prisoner of war for 7 years at the Hanoi Hilton (2 of those 7 years in solitary confinement).
Captain Coffee spoke for my father-in-law.
Captain Coffee has written a book about his ordeal called Beyond Survival which is an incredible story.
And my father-in-laws story would in itself carry tombs of writing. His own survival in the face of death...quite literally coming back from the brink gives me pause to be thankful.
Had he gone my daughter would never have seen either of her grandfathers. And since my own father has passed in 1999, I am eternally grateful to the fortitude of the human spirit and to those men who saved Hanks life on those fields in Vietnam so many years ago.
I was humbled to say the least by the magnitude of the individuals in attendance. Being around such people who have incredibly diverse backgrounds is not only educational but reminds me of why service is so important to me. To give back...or more simply put...to give.
From left to right Lt. Gen. Hank C. Stackpole, my incredible wife Dana, Captain Gerald Coffee, my mother-in-law, Vivien Stackpole, Me (James Barbour) , Susan Page Coffee.