PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Veterans Day was Nov. 11, but at Arizona’s Family, we believe in celebrating them year-round. So, when the Surprise Squad heard about one Valley vet who could use a little help during a rough stretch, the team was happy to help.
“Jim is a U.S. Army veteran. He’s one of those stellar type of people you don’t often get to meet,” Paula Pedene with Honoring America’s Veterans told 3TV’s Scott Pasmore. “He is in his 70s, and unfortunately, his wife fell recently and broke her neck. Poor Jim, he doesn’t know how to cook. He’s not sure how to clean the house. In that generation, the women have a role and the men have a role. Jim would never ask for any help, so I think surprising him is going to be really fun.”
Pedene, Pasmore, and the Surprise Squad crew headed off to Jim’s home in Scottsdale. “What’s going on, Jim?” Pasmore asked as he knocked on his front gate. “We’ve got a whole camera crew here for you today. Do you mind if we come in and talk to you?”
With his wife Montie by his side, Jim shared the story of his career in the Army. He said he dug his first foxhole in Vietnam on New Year’s Eve 1965. When that tour was over, he returned to the states and married Montie. They then moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he went to Special Forces school and joined the Green Berets.
Montie was pregnant with their first child when Jim was given orders to return to Vietnam. After the second tour, Jim was wary of surviving a third one since he had already suffered different injuries. That’s why he decided to branch transfer into intelligence. During the Cold War, Jim commanded the Army’s largest counterintelligence organization in the world, mainly hunting spies in Europe. He ended his career as the chief of staff at Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona. And through it all, Montie was always by his side.
“Montie, what happened to you?” Pasmore asked.
“What happened, I slipped in the shower and I broke C1 and C2 vertebrae. So I’m stuck in this Elizabethan thing,” she laughed as she pointed at her neck brace. She went on to explain how Jim has taken over the cooking and cleaning chores, but it’s been an uphill battle.
Pasmore explained why they were there for the unannounced visit. “We are part of the Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad sponsored by your Valley Toyota Dealers. “ He handed Jim an envelope. Inside was a certificate for $1,000 worth of meal kits so Jim wouldn’t have to cook every day.
Pasmore handed Jim a second envelope. “Montie just mentioned that you’re not very good at cleaning around the house, so I think you’ll like this one.”
“I’ll like this one. It’s pretty dusty in there,” Montie chuckled.
Inside the second envelope was a certificate for $1,000 worth of maid services.
“We have one final gift,” Pasmore said as he handed over a final envelope. “That is just $1,000 in cash. You can spend it however you like. You can spend it on Montie, or your daughters, or yourself. However you like. Just for you, as a thank you for your service to this great country and for being an incredible couple.”
“Can I donate it?” Jim asked. “There are a lot of vets out there that need this. We’re doing OK. My country’s given me more than I can ever give back. I can’t thank Toyota and I can’t thank you enough for this.”
“Well, you’re welcome,” Pasmore said with a big smile. “Thank you for your service. You’re the reason we love our vets.”