Reminiscing With a Swashbuckling Adventurer

Reminiscing With a Swashbuckling Adventurer

Published Apr 8, 2021 by Rick Cundiff

With travel restrictions easing and vaccinations becoming common, my lovely bride and I had the opportunity to travel to my hometown last week to visit my dad. We hadn’t seen him in two years.

Now, the thing you need to know about my dad is, he’s an adventurer. He’s been all over the world, and has the memories – and the stories – to prove it. We’re talking about someone who worked as a bowling alley pinsetter at 13, poured iron in an Indiana foundry at 16,  worked on a ship in the Great Lakes as a U.S. Merchant Marine at 17.

Not long after that, he was drafted into the Army. Soon, he was abandoning perfectly good airplanes as they flew, a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. That wasn’t quite enough adventure for him though, so he volunteered for Army Ranger School.

That was another grueling eight weeks of training to earn the Ranger tab for his shoulder. Only about a quarter of the men he enrolled in the course with completed it.

All was well for nearly three dozen parachute jumps. On the 33rd or 34th one (he doesn’t recall which), Dad’s chute didn’t open properly. The result? Months in the hospital, partially paralyzed with a broken back. He eventually recovered, but the injury was severe enough to end his time in the Army.

It didn’t stop him from later serving four years in the Navy Reserve, though.

After a few years in the civilian sector that included helping to develop a new town in Ohio and five years as service director for a small city there, he got the itch to travel. So he took a construction job, much to Mom’s consternation, in Saudi Arabia.

Mom was an entrepreneur in her own right, so while Dad was in Saudi, she started her own business, a flower shop. That little venture became a fixture of my hometown for the next 38 years.

After four years in the Middle East, Dad came home. Not to be outdone by Mom, he started a couple of businesses of his own. By the early ‘90s though, he was bored.

That’s when he became a cop. In his mid-50s. He served more than 25 years, retiring at age 81.

You could say my Dad is a true bad*ss. At 83, he can still work circles around me. When we visited, he was in the process of renovating one of his rental properties. New paint, crown molding, windows, carpet. He did most of the work himself.

Along the way to his retirement, he’s collected plenty of souvenirs of his travels and adventures. Of course, that includes Army patches, Navy patches, police patches, challenge coins and more.

The patches all have a special meaning to him, icons of an extraordinary life well-lived. And that’s the beauty of custom patches and other items. They’re a fantastic way to recall special times, special places, special people in all our lives.

So what are you waiting for? The world is out there. The adventures are up to you. We’ll make the patches for you. Tell ‘em Dad sent you.