Here’s a story we could all really use today: Guido Filippone would already be a Huck’s Hero in my book, just for his service in the Marines. But he showed that even ten years after rejoining civilian life, he’s still living up to those high Marine standards.
Filippone was leaving a V.A. clinic when he spotted an elderly man in a World War II cap, using a walker to cross a long, hot parking lot to get to his car. Filippone offered to escort him. He discovered the man was World War II veteran Mike Gazella. He’d driven over half an hour from the town of Leander to try to get the V.A. to help cut through red tape and pay for over $4,000 worth of medical bills from his operations that Medicare wouldn’t cover. Filippone offered to help, but Gazella refused. So without Gazella’s knowledge, Filippone turned to fellow vets and set up a GoFundMe account. Within one day, the $4,000 goal was exceeded with $11,000 worth of donations. Filippone said his next move is to go to Leander, where he knows Gazella likes to hang around Starbucks…find which of the town’s two Starbucks he visits (that must be a small town, to have only two Starbucks!…and give him a check to clear his medical debts.
Filippone noted that it would have been easy just to walk away and move on, but he urged others not to do that. He said, “I always say we already have the Greatest Generation—we should be the better generation. Never miss a chance to thank a veteran.”
He’s right. So thank you, Guido and Mike, for your service. And thanks, Guido Filippone for giving us a much-needed reminder that decency, compassion and going out of your way to help a stranger are not extinct in the 21st century.