A group of teenage boys recently made a very special friend at their school’s gym in Hastings, Minnesota.
When 88-year-old Korean War veteran Loren Mollet took one of his daily walks around the inside track at Hastings High School last year, he had no idea what was about to happen, according to KARE.
As Mollet passed a group of boys clustered near the locker room entrance awaiting the school bell, he said hello to them.
To his surprise, teenager Nathan LaCroix responded with a friendly “hey” and also noticed the U.S. Air Force veteran’s cap.
“Then the next time I came around he stuck out his hand and thanked me for my service,” Mollet recalled, adding that he thought LaCroix was one of the nicest kids he had ever met.
“I walked around again, and the next time I came around, they thanked me for my service. I had a cap on that said Korea on it. They’d hold out their hands, shake my hand, and thank me for my service.”
For several weeks, Mollet and the boys continued to greet each other.
“The one morning I came to walk, they were in a group on the main floor and they all looked up at me when I got around and said, ‘Good morning Loren,’ in unison. All of them. Thirty of them,” he stated.
The veteran said it was then that he told his wife he wanted to do something nice for the boys, so he bought them candy bars.
“That was the best Snickers I’ve ever had,” student Conner Larson recalled.
LaCroix spent the next week or so gathering signatures on a thank you card for Mollet.
However, the veteran had begun taking his daily walks outside in the warmer weather, so the boys had to wait months to give it to him.
Larson said when they finally gave him the card, they could tell he was deeply moved “because just the look on his face was priceless.”
When the students’ physical education teacher, Jeff Corkish, suggested they write letters to the veteran, the whole class took part and wrote things like “you’re my hero” and “I wish you were my grandpa.”
Mollet told Principal Mike Johnson about how great the students were, and Johnson planned a special meeting so the boys could ask the veteran questions about his military service.
Members of the American Legion and a few of Mollet’s loved ones attended the meeting held December 10.
“When you thank me, you’re thanking all the other members,” he told the class.
“I was telling a few of these people here that I wonder if these kids really know when they thank me for my service if they know what they’re thanking me for, and after reading these, you do. You know what’s going on.”
Meeting the veterans and showing them how much they were appreciated was very special, LaCroix said.
“It’s like a second Veterans Day I feel like,” the young man concluded.