Definition of Friendship

by Andy Wood on February 18, 2008

in Life Currency, Love

This is another response to my request for love stories.  I’m still looking!  Who has taught you about the real meaning of love?  How have you experienced it?  Email me at and share what you have observed, learned, or experienced.

The following was originally written by Joel, my son, on February 28 last year.  It’s a powerful story of friendship that transcended social and racial barriers, and started with a plane crash in a Vietnamese rice paddy.  (You can read more of Joel’s good stuff at

Wounded ComradeI was working this morning at Cracker Barrel when a man was seated in my section. He was an older looking man and a little rough around the edges. (Most likely this guy was never called a wimp or a sissy.) When you are working in restaurants you can usually tell who is traveling through and not native to your surrounding area. I poured the man his coffee as he poured over his road atlas. When I finished taking his order he asked me the best way to get to Denton. I suggested a route and pointed it out on his map.

When waiting tables you are always searching for better tips, so in an attempt to be more personal and social I inquired where he was from. He replied with, “Phoenix. I am traveling to Denton because one of my closest friends in the world is dying. He saved my life.”

I offered my deepest condolences and feeling a bit awkward hurried off to put his order in the computer. A bit later I was stopping by to refill his coffee and inform him his food shouldn’t be much longer when, with glazed eyes, he said: “I was a Fighter pilot in Vietnam, flying the F-4 Phantom. One afternoon I was flying my routine mission when out of nowhere a S2AM (surface to air missile) came up from behind me and clipped my landing gear. The plane was on fire and the landing gear was jammed, so I knew I couldn’t land back on the carrier. I found a rice patty, radioed my location and glided in. When the plane crashed, within seconds I saw four black Marines. They drug me out of the plane. Timmy, Daryl, John, and Robert, they made a stretcher and carried me on it for three days. Three days on a hand-made stretcher! They saved my life. After we came home two of them came and worked for me as district managers for my oil company in southern California, another is living in Brewton, Alabama, and Daryl is in Denton. That’s who I am going to see. Daryl is the one who is dying. Its a shame, a damned shame.”

As the gruff Vietnam veteran wipe the tears out of his eyes, I had to excuse myself to do the same. I think that today I heard the best definition of friendship I will ever hear.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Terry Richardson February 19, 2008 at 7:37 am

Great story, and, “on point.” I just wish our main stream media would consider stories like this one worthy of repeating in the press. But, I guess that’s not their agenda, is it? One very cool thing about eternity will be the opportunity to share stories like this from millions of fellow believers. It will be a glorious day!!!

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