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Frank: the Border Patrol Pilot…

Posted by on December 13, 2013

DECEMBER 13, 2013. 

This is another post about interesting people I’ve met along the way. As I’ve stated, one of the compelling reasons I had for taking this trip was to meet and talk with interesting Americans. I want to meet folks whose backgrounds aren’t parallel with mine.  I want to learn how they think, what they believe and why. I want to hear their stories.

The guy’s name is Frank. I met him in the Page Springs Campground outside Sedona. He has a tiny little trailer, not large enough for more than one. He’s got a truck to pull the trailer. That’s it. He lives alone, speaks with a labored, halting voice and is unsteady on his feet but he appears to think clearly. It’s difficult to understand him when he speaks.  He was carrying a paperback book with a German Shepherd picture on the cover, so I asked him about it, thinking I could strike up a conversation about GSD’s. I owned them for so long in the past that I’m always interested in speaking with other owners.


This is Frank’s little trailer.

I turns out that the book was about training service dogs. Dan has a two year old black Lab he’s training for that purpose. Why would he need a service dog? Here’s his story. He’d been working for the U. S. Border Patrol in the San Diego region, flying planes and helicopters. He had retired from the Navy.  He had a comfortable income. He owned a nice condominium in a fashionable part of San Diego. He had a girlfriend. He was just a year out of the Academy and working for the Border Patrol when he began experiencing bouts of dizziness an loss of equilibrium. His doctor prescribed various medications for eight months before ordering a CAT scan. It revealed a large tumor at the base of his skull which had to be immediately removed surgically, leaving him with the disabilities I mentioned and immediately ending his Border Patrol employment.  It also ended life as he’d know it and resulted in bouts of uncontrollable depression. He’d decided that since service dogs visit hospitals to cheer up patients, he’d be well served to own such a dog himself so he’d have a companion. It seemed to be working. He proudly introduced his two year old puppy and his eyes lighted up as he “showed off” with her.

He lost his job, his income and his home. He lost his girlfriend, lost his robust good health and now lives as I’ve described, moving from one campsite to the next trying to decide what to do and where to do it. He’s working with and building small model drones. He hopes to get work flying the drones and taking aerial photographs for realtors to use as marketing tools for listed houses. He has no debts. He loves his dog. He’s glad the tumor was “caught” when it was. He’s optimistic about his future. Hearing his story made me made me feel sad for him and very grateful for all I have. He reinforced what I already know and what was another impetus for this Journey: Be positive. Never give up. Be optimistic. Enjoy every day as it comes along. Live in the Now. All we’ve got is today. Relish in it. I’m glad I met Frank, an interesting and inspirational American.

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