FAMILY GIVES SPECIAL FAREWELL TO MARINE HEADED TO IRAQ
Written by: Andrew Resnik – 9NEWS Reporter
Created: 7/28/2005 10:13 PM MDT – Updated: 7/28/2005 – 10:36 PM MDT
MORRISON – Mark Hickethier knew he was going to have to dig deep for this celebration dinner. “We were out to kill the fatted calf,” he said, talking about his big plans.
His chosen destination — The Fort — a funky, fancy restaurant in Morrison that serves “fine food and drink from the early West.” It’s a special occasion place, and it comes with a price tag.
But no expense was too much for his only son, who’s about to ship off to Iraq for his first tour of duty. Matt Hickethier has almost completed training, and has this week to say farewell to his family for about a year.
The young Marine decided to wear his dress blues to the fancy restaurant. His mother and sister wore their finest dresses.
“We were treated like kings and queens,” says Lora Hickethier, Matt’s mother.
They ordered champagne, and watched from the deck as a server took a tomahawk to the bottle to open it in ceremonial fashion. They loaded up on quirky appetizers, like rattlesnake, quail eggs, and buffalo tongue.
“We didn’t hold back, we ordered dessert even though we were stuffed,” said Lora Hickethier.
Perhaps it was the dress blues; maybe it was the general revelry and good vibes emanating from the Hickethier table. The truth may never be revealed, but the Hickethiers had certainly drawn attention. A couple at a neighboring table summoned Jason Barba, their server, and made a most unusual request.
“He gave me his credit card and requested I keep the tab open,” said Barba. “‘Anything that they order is on me.'”
Stephanie Amador, who was waiting on the Hickethier table, said the gentleman who picked up the tab insisted on doing it and also insisted on anonymity. The gesture was not even to be announced until he had finished and departed.
“It was just really, really neat,” said Amador. “That doesn’t happen — ever,” she added.
Amador speculated the benefactor’s motivation might have been his gratitude to the young man in uniform. While the restaurant knows the man’s name, they have said only that he’s a businessman from Texas who was in town for a few days.
While the servers were impressed by this generous move, the Hickethiers were floored.
“I don’t know the motivation, but I do know that it was mind-blowing,” said Mark.
While Mark fully supports his son’s decision to join the Marines and support the war effort in Iraq, he admits to being disturbed by those who say the fight isn’t worth it. The gesture at The Fort reminded him of the many Americans that support young men like his son.
“It helped us feel more convinced of what our son is doing, Matt’s doing the right thing and people do appreciate it,” he said.
While they understand and respect the benefactor’s desire for anonymity, they’d like the opportunity to thank him.
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