Monday, August 13, 2012

Eugene Pottinger is on his way home!

August 13, 2012 ~ Today was a good day. I was thankful that Eugene had a warm bed to sleep in last night because a storm was headed our way. I don't think we got much in Midway as the storm broke up before it hit but there was lighting. (I couldn't imagine being all alone in this crazy world and trying to find shelter at night) I called his room at 7:45 am and asked him to meet me at the Midway Family Restaurant at 8:15 am. I couldn't expect a man to travel without a good meal first so I bought him whatever he wanted. He ordered steak and eggs with Texas toast and strawberry jelly. I knew he was hungry and it's probably been awhile since he had a good meal.

I needed to talk to Michelle at the Columbia Greyhound. Since he only had a social security card for identification I would need to beg for an exception to be made.

We started making small talk and I started asking him a few more questions as I really wanted to know more about him. He said that he was born and raised in Chicago, IL and has a twin brother, George who he hasn't seen in many years. His mother passed away in 1989 and his father was never really around. He joined the military and served primarily in Vietnam from age 18-38. In those 20 years his title would be Commander Navy Seal. Things began to get emotional for me as he talked. I could see the hurt in his eyes and that made me sad. He said that he spent 5 years in the states and the first 8 months training to become a seal. His mission was to seek and destroy. He was a POW (Prisoner of War) for almost 4 years. Upon being released he came back to the states and spent 18 months in Maryland to try and get back to a regular state of mind. I didn't push him to talk about what happened as I knew he had been through so much. He also had been exposed to Agent Orange. At that point he had a decision to get out of the military or volunteer to help get other people out of being a POW. He said at that point it was like a suicide mission for him. He said he really didn't have much to live for and if he were to get killed while serving it was ok but if he could get our men back then he got back at those people that hurt him.  He said that he found one of our men and got him back home. I asked where he had served and he said Siagon, Vitnam mostly but also Taiwan, Aboud & Hanowi.

I could tell that it was not something easy for him to talk about so after a long pause I started asking him about his family. He said that once he got back to San Diego, CA (specifically Linda Vista, CA) that his wife would pick him up. He doesn't have any kids and they have been married for 19 years. Her name is Robin (aka "The Boss") and she works for a hotel as a host. Once he got back home he would have a home and be able to find work pretty easy. He said that he has worked in the steel / construction industry and wasn't afraid to work. He said he went to work for a company in North Carolina but after 18 months they were shut down because of back taxes. So he made it to Kentucky and helped out on a horse ranch. He said he didn't have a clue about horses but did whatever needed to be done. His focus was on getting back home.

He said that he had been clean for 3 years now. No alcohol or drugs just cigarettes and coffee. He said that he realizes that he put his wife through hell but when he got back from the war the first thing he did was burned his uniforms/fatigues. He said that when he got off the plane people would spit on him and call him really bad names and he hurt. After serving his country and yet to be treated less than a human was hard to handle. You could see so much emotion in his eyes as he talked, opening up to a total stranger yet I think it was good for both of us to hear this information. For him, living through all of this and having someone who wouldn't judge him was good. For me, one can never really understand what war does to a person. I could tell it forever changed him.

At 9:05 am I made the phone call to Michelle at the Greyhound station. She listened as I explained our situation and was willing to make sure we got him on the bus! I immediately called Taxi Terry's and had them come pick him up. He was excited. I know he probably thought this wasn't for real, how could his life start to get better in the 3 days he had met me.He quickly ran over to the hotel and I waited until the taxi got there. Pretty sad when all the things you have fit in a duffel bag and a backpack but it didn't matter... he was going home!

At 9:40 am Taxi Terry arrived.... the bus would be leaving at 9:50 am and I was getting nervous. I told him that the taxi driver would be driving like a crazy man but we were going to get to the bus station quickly! He was loaded up and I was following behind. I called Michelle again at the bus station and told her what was going on. She said the bus would not wait however there was another bus behind it and it would leave in 30 minutes! (Thank goodness!) We arrive at the bus station at 9:48 am and we ran inside to get a ticket. He was really getting happy now! We got his ticket and walked outside. I gave him a full new tablet of writing paper as he said he was almost out, some cash and a self addressed stamped envelope and told him that when he got home I wanted a letter from him. He said he would send a letter and a picture of California! I gave him a quick hug and headed out the door. By 10:30 am he would be on his journey home.

Today was a very emotional day for me. To hear him talk about things that he had experienced, where he has come from and choosing to be "clean" for 3 years made this all worth while. I knew there was something special about this guy and all of his life he has been judged, mistreated or put down. Today that wasn't going to happen. I wish him safe travels as he makes his 2 day trek and I look forward to receiving his letter. Until then know that he is in good hands and soon enough he will be reunited with his wife.

On my way back to the shop I couldn't help but look over. This spot at the top of exit 121 seemed so sad and lonely but the thought of him being so completely happy makes me smile. It's been a great day......

A Hero’s Hero

So Many Soldiers
Living on the Street
Their Spirits Broken
With Defeat.

What Must They Think
When They Look Around
Eyes Passing By
Staring at the Ground.

Does Anger Fill Them
When We Turn Away,
From the Debts We Owe
That Should Be Repaid ?

What If A That Moment,
Just Once, Instead
We Saluted in Honor,
Right Hand to Head?

To Let Them Know
They are Not Ghosts,
Thanking Them for
Being Braver Than Most.

If Everyone Would
Show Them Grace
We Just Might Find
Their Pain Erased.

For All the Heroes,
Still Fighting To Live
And For Heroes Like You
Who Continue to Give.

If You See Someone
Who Is Really Lost
Please Stop and Remember
What Our Freedoms Cost.


  1. You are an amazing person, Michele. God bless you!

  2. The world is such a better place with people like you in it!!
    Brandy F.

  3. are my hero!

  4. What a difference you just made in one person's life! How cool is that!!

    Mary (still thinking about the big rocks)

  5. Thank you all! It's really been a heart-wrenching day! As I sit here and think about where he might be and hope that his 3 transfers are smooth and seamless. I hope others treat him with respect during his travels..... thank you all for your kind words and encouragement as we get him back where he belongs! You all are an inspiration to me!

  6. Thank you for being you, Michele..... And thank you for sharing your amazing story. I hope you keep us posted!

  7. I for one will be following this story! How I wish I had your courage!

  8. This an amazing story, Michelle, and tells me that your heart is even bigger than I thought it was, something I would not have imagined to be possible.

  9. This is an amazing story and that last photo of the empty side of the road... wow. I can't wait to read his letter. Your compassion is infectious Michele. There's a reason why you stopped and he found you...

  10. Michele, St.Francis was quoted as saying, "share your faith every day, and when necessary use words." Your actions spoke much louder than any of our words today. Thank you!

  11. I'm a hot mess just reading this. What a blessing you gave this man. Wouldn't the world be such a better place, if we just took the time to listen to one another ? Looking forward to hearing the next chapter. God bless you for such compassion.
    Cindy Mutrux

  12. God Bless you... Its good to know there is good people in this world....Eugene thanks for servicing.....God Bless you.

  13. Wow, wonderful story! May God richly bless your life for being a good samartan!

  14. Michele you are truly amazing! Always willing to do whatever you can to help someone in need. This story brought tears to my eyes. I am so blessed to be able to call you my friend. LOVE YOU GIRL!

  15. Thank you everyone for your encouragement, support, thoughts and prayers for this man over the last few days. If I didn't have such amazing people in my life I wouldn't have had the courage to do this. I am a very determined, stubborn, hard headed person. When I get an idea about something I give my heart.... this man just needed someone to care. I can't wait to share his thoughts of his time here and get his letter once he arrives home.


  16. Misfortunes tell us what fortune is.
    Time works great changes.

  17. As a Vietnam vet I would like to correct the fact that Eugene Pottinger was never a POW. (Please check the official Vietnam POW list.) I cannot comment about other parts of his story but have never heard of such a title as Commander Navy Seal.

  18. Madam,
    I greatly appreciate your interest in upholding the honor of the US Navy SEAL Teams, and your search for the TRUTH. Before answering your questions I must make clear that I am a private individual, not affiliated with the US Dept. of Defense or any other government organization. My efforts to expose SEAL imposters are performed as a service to the public, and in honor of my fallen SEAL Teammates… men who truly earned the right to the title “US NAVY SEAL” but who are no longer able to stand forward in defense of their honor, their reputations, and their TEAMs.

    If the name you provided is spelled correctly, I do NOT find a listing in the SEAL Database (SEAL Teams and predecessor units from 1943 to the Present Day) for anyone named EUGENE POTTINGER. I have also examined possible alternate spellings, and names with similar pronunciations without finding any that appear to be applicable.

    Unless he has undertaken the unlikely action of a legal name change (an action for which there would be evidence in the form of court documentation) since his claimed participation in SEAL training, and based upon the information you have provided, I can state conclusively that EUGENE POTTINGER has NEVER COMPLETED SEAL training, and he is not now, nor was he ever a Navy SEAL, a Navy UDT “Frogman”, a member of any Naval Combat Demolition Unit (NCDU), or a member of the Naval Amphibious Scouts & Raiders (S&R).

    Many SEAL imposters when confronted with the information I have provided will resort to claiming that their records are sealed, burned or their SEAL Operations were Classified and that there are no official records of them.
    Before any classified operations may be undertaken as a SEAL Operator, a man must first successfully complete the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Training program and then the follow-on secondary training program. The names of all those who successfully graduate from that training program sequence are compiled in the SEAL database. Later participation in classified operations has "no impact" on whether or not a person is listed as a graduate of the training program.

    There are records of every man who has qualified for the title of “SEAL”; there have been and will continue to be secret missions, but there are NO secret SEALs.

    For additional US NAVY confirmation of my findings regarding Mr. EUGENE POTTINGER's lack of SEAL credentials you may contact the Public Affairs Office at the NAVAL SPECIAL WARFARE COMMAND in Coronado, California by telephoning (619) 537-1133. You may also contact the UDT-SEAL Association via email at, or by telephone at (757) 318-3764; while they are not formal/official representatives of the US Navy, they have been granted access to the SEAL Database in order to verify credentials of potential members. You may also consider contacting the Naval Special Warfare Archives by email at; that organization is responsible for creating the original SEAL Database and their extensive collection of documentation exceeds even that held by the US Navy.

    Thank you again for your concern in this matter, and for your assistance in upholding the honor of the US Navy SEAL Teams. If I can be of any further assistance to you in this matter, please contact me at your convenience.

    Respectfully, Don Shipley BUD/S 131, SEAL Team ONE, SEAL Team TWO.

  19. Another Phoney Navy SEAL and their elaborate story packed full of BS.... 3 easy questions... what class were you? Who was your swim buddy? What team were you? Sorry that all of you were decieved by this man's elaborate lies. Good day and Gods speed.

  20. I think this might leave a bruise ..ouch !

  21. There are at least 100 fake SEALs for every 1 real SEAL.

  22. Ms. Spry,

    Folks like you make this a great nation. Thank you for having such a gracious spirit that you would assist a veteran in need.

    I am sorry you were taken in by a con man, this story points out what a wonderful person you are while also exposing how believable many of these con men turn out to be.

    Men like Mr. Pottinger who would claim unearned honors for monetary or other intangibles are beneath contempt and cast aspersions on the honesty and integrity of those who are legitimate veterans and soldiers. I believe there is a Karmic justice that awaits Mr. Pottinger, he shall reap what he has sown eventually.

    My best to you and your blog ma'am.

  23. Ms. Spry, I commend your good works but may I also offer my caution when dealing with "veterans". As an Honoably Discharged Marine I would/will never take offense if someone asked me vetting questions. Becaue of the proliferation of PHONY VETs, I have taken to carrying my DD-214 (discharge papers) in the glovebox of my truck. Yat Yas 1833, ask A Marine, he'll know what I am.

  24. Ma'am,
    Thank you for your kind treatment to an individual you believed to be a needy veteran. A tip: Sadly, when an individual claims to be a former SEAL, Special Ops, or POW, 9 times out of 10 they are lying. Liars and con artists tend to go big in their lies. As has been stated, no veteran will be offended by asking vetting questions.

    Regardless, he probably was a man in need, so there's that.

    Thank you again.

  25. No record at the NPRC of EUGENE POTTINGER serving in any branch of the US Armed Forces EVER.. He is a Military POSER !!

  26. I would hope that this experience doesn't dampen the giving spirit of Ms. Spry - she has the heart of a REAL warrior, unlike this poser. This Marine Vet thanks you for your kindness, Ms. Spry - and I promise to never cease dragging these poer cretins into the light of day. If for no other reason than so a person as good as Ms. Spry doesn't get taken again. God bless you, ma'am.

  27. Young lady, you're obviously a kind and decent person.

    Unfortunately, you were "conned." This guy is a phony, through and through. We weren't in Vietnam for 20 years. And there's no way he served in Hanoi. Hanoi is in North Vietnam and we never quite made it there. His "background" is full of holes and he isn't listed on the registry of POWs from any war.

    But thank you for being nice to him. That makes you a classy lady.