Today I spent some time in an eatery at Seattle/Tacoma airport, leisurely consuming my lox+cream cheese bagel and pint of Alaska Amber when 4 MPs arrived to occupy the space next to mine (we were at small tables along a long wall seat). The one nearest me politely greeted me, finishing his sentence with “, sir.”
I smiled and said “I was an E-5 when I got out, so best not call me ‘sir’. You guys coming or going?” They were coming (home from Afghanistan).
We exchanged occasional pleasantries. At one point I offered the opinion that, given a choice between being rejuvenated and sent to Afghanistan, or put in a time machine and doing another tour in Viet-Nam, it would be RVN hands down. They were surprised; they were generally of the opinion that we had the worse deal.
Shortly before I finished the repast and headed to the gate, a random stranger came up to shake their hands and thank them for their service.
This brought back memories: in 1971, in this very airport, traveling home in my Class-A uniform after my release from active duty, I received a significantly less friendly reception.
You win some, you lose some.
I wish them well. They will need it.