I have frequently recalled the backgrounds of the beer guys who have taught me so much about this great business. As noted, almost all of them were either WWII or Korean War veterans. I have learned so much from these patriots. Four of the very best beer guys I have had the pleasure of working with during my early years in the business were Vietnam veterans, all of whom served in combat situations in Southeast Asia.
In a previous post, I told the story of Bill, who, as a young infantry officer, was severely wounded and lost much of his stomach. As a result of his injuries, Bill had difficulty eating, and as you can imagine was extremely underweight. The two of us worked together for five years, but Bill decided to return to his native Louisiana, and the last I heard from him, he was working for an AB wholesaler in southern Louisiana.
Another champion I admire is Ed S. After graduating from high school, Ed S. joined the Marines and was soon deployed to Vietnam. He told me his first duty upon landing was to fill body bags with dead Marines after a bloody fight. Ed S. survived his tour of duty and was assigned to the Marine Honor Guard in Washington, DC. Once the command discovered that Ed S. was a former state of Michigan Junior Am golf champion, however, he wound up at the base golf course giving lessons. Ed S. moved from AB in Kansas, to Miller in Michigan, and later back to Miller in Missouri. As with Bill, I lost track of Ed S. 20 years ago. He mentioned he might move south to Mississippi or Alabama, but he just disappeared.
The third vet who has left a lasting impression on me is a longtime friend and associate, Carter. Carter was in the Army infantry and deployed to Vietnam after completing basic training. One of his many duties included manning a machine gun during his 12 month tour. Carter never talked much about his time in Southeast Asia, but I do know that his adjustment back to the States, and his return to college life in Kentucky, was difficult. The backlash from our society felt by this returning vet, who had sacrificed so much, was arduous. Carter and I worked together for many years, he remains in the industry today, and we share a close friendship after all these years.
Finally, Ed G. left a lasting impression on me. Ed served as an Army Ranger for eight years. While he has never talked about his combat experience, the fighting skills learned while in the service have proved to be useful to Ed in competitive matches leading him to become the world kick boxing champion in his early 50s. After reaching the pinnacle, Ed retired from competition, although he continues working in the beer industry.
All four of these men were the best beer men with which I had the pleasure of working. Their work ethic and ability to get the job done was second to none, and given what they had faced in combat, selling beer was easy. Success was second nature while working with these great men.
The support our veterans receive from America today get is much deserved. We can never fully repay these men and women for their sacrifice. As we honor our American war heroes this Veteran’s Day, pleased take a moment to thank those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. This is the least we can do for them. The beer industry, too, remains committed to supporting our veterans.
As I have posted previously, Veterans Brewing Company, who hires only veterans, is also dedicated to supporting our American war heroes. To all of you who have helped with the establishment of Veteran’s Brewing, a special thank you.
Finally, to Bill, Ed S., Carter, Ed G., and all of the WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan and other vets, I thank you! You have shown that responsibility is the price of freedom!
Beer Fodder for our vets; bestcommercial