PHOTO: A Vietnam veteran in Stafford County received an unexpected gift from the same first responders who came to his aid when his house caught fire nearly two months ago.
On Friday, Robert Mihalak was presented a traditional military shadowbox that contained all of the personal military decorations he earned in the 1960s, but then lost in the Feb. 13 fire at his home. The gift was a labor of love by Stafford County firefighters and retired law enforcement officers who took weeks to prepare it.
“Bobby doesn’t have anybody,” said long-time friend and caregiver Mary Ellen Earls. “He lost his kitten, he lost everything.”
The soft-spoken 73-year-old was left almost speechless by the gesture, accepting the memento in the small backyard ceremony at Earls’ home where he now lives with a simple thank you.
“We’re very grateful for what you did for our country,” said Deputy Fire Marshal Daniel Pappas, a retired Marine Corps master sergeant.