Sometimes a thoughtful gesture can come full circle.
That is exactly what happened for Col. Kenneth Mintz, 10th Mountain Division (LI) G-3, when he arrived at Baltimore / Washington International airport recently after a two-week predeployment sensing session in Afghanistan.
As he walked through the customs section of the airport, he was greeted by a small group of USO volunteers welcoming home service members and handing out goody bags.
“They do that for almost every one of those flights,” Mintz said.
After taking a bag and thanking the group, he peeked inside to see the standard bottle of water, chips and a card.
Mintz pulled a piece of red folded construction paper out of the bag. As he began reading, the card simply said, “Welcome home! Thank you for your service.” At the bottom, it was signed by a little boy named Max.
“I looked at it and thought ‘wow, that’s my son’s handwriting,’” Mintz said. “I think I’ve seen him make something like this before. I (immediately) thought it was something my son made.”
During Mintz’s last deployment as commander of 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, from March 2011 to March 2012, his wife, Karen, and children participated in a family readiness group event at USO Fort Drum to decorate cards for troops returning home from Afghanistan. At the time, Max was 8 years old.
“The USO collected up the cards, and I don’t know what they do with them after that,” Mintz said.
“Somehow, randomly, I picked the bag at BWI years later and got a card that my son made.”
When Mintz returned home, he showed his Family the card.
“I asked Max, ‘Did you make this?’ and he said, ‘Yes, that’s my handwriting,” Mintz explained. “Everybody was so surprised and in disbelief. Statistically, how can that happen?”
Mintz’s wife and daughters were ecstatic, but Max, who is now 11, took the news with a level head.
“He thought it was cool,” he said.
Mintz admitted that just looking at the card can cheer him up.
“I carry it around with me everywhere I go. I have to figure out a way to protect it,” he said. “Everybody told me I should go buy a lottery ticket, but I said, ‘No, this is it. This is what I got with my luck,’ which is pretty cool.”