Shiocton, Wis. (WFRV) – He simply wanted to travel the world; That’s what prompted this week’s Hometown Hero Steve Stumpf to join the Navy.
“It was cold, about 30 below, and I happened to be going past the recruiting station in Appleton. I pulled in, and I said, ‘I’d like to enlist.’ And he said, ‘Oh, okay. When do you want to go?’ I said, ‘Tomorrow is fine.’ He said, ‘What, are the cops after you?'”
Turns out the cops were not in fact after Stumpf on that day in 1970, he just knew he wanted to join the Navy, as soon as possible.
Those frigid temperatures in Appleton turned into the warm sunshine of San Diego.
“You know, I know people that are still in Appleton and still sitting on the same barstool. I could never understand not seeing the world. I wanted to see the world and I did,” Stumpf recalled.
Headed to Vietnam aboard the USS Dubuque as a Boatswain’s mate, Stumpf definitely saw the world.
Places like The Philippines, Okinawa and Hawaii.
And when his four years were up, emotionally, Stumpf says perhaps the hardest part was coming home.
“It took 30 years for someone to say to me, ‘Thank you.’ Thirty years. Do you know how long that is?’ Stumpf said.
That’s why now, Stumpf spends time doing things for other vets, little things to help a comrade.
He helps a friend of his find wood to make canes free of charge for other veterans.
But he says the veteran community doesn’t ask for much, just a little recognition.
“We’re not asking for anything just a ‘Hello.’ I don’t want nothing, just someone to say thanks. I always say to a veteran, especially Vietnam, ‘Welcome home,’ always,” Stumpf said.