[September 7, 2023] Sergeant Jimmy John Grayson was an NCO in my U.S. Army Platoon back when I was a new Lieutenant. One day, he came to me to tell a story about a young woman he had met and wanted my opinion. I was willing to listen but am usually guarded with my opinions, especially in relationships. But since he was adamant about getting my attention, I was willing to sit down and listen. This is a good news story.
I let Sergeant Grayson talk. I remember it because what he said was so out of the ordinary. Grayson had spent more than ten years in the Army and had dedicated his life to the service and our country. He was the kind of Soldier any leader would want to have: mature, honest, helpful, hard-working, positive attitude, willing to do anything asked of him, happy with life overall, and the kind of guy you could give a task and it would get done without worrying about. He was what officers call a Soldier’s Soldier. Grayson was 28 years old.
One evening, Grayson was in a local hospital because he brought into the ER a buddy of his with a knife wound. His friend had been attacked by a group of thugs while leaving a restaurant. Grayson was rightly worried, so he wandered about the hospital complex and, at one point, found himself in the hospital’s mainframe computer room (back when they had these). There, he was met by a young woman who smiled at him. As he tells it, she was cute, well-built, and seemed interested in him. He got her phone number and left. A few days later, he called her.
After speaking with her a few times, he asked for a date, and she readily accepted. The date went well, so he asked her for a second date, this time to a movie and dinner. She invited him to her parent’s house, he accepted, and he met her family. The family seemed friendly, and her dad enjoyed his time with Grayson, cooking burgers on a backyard grill, playing with the dogs, and eating at a large outdoor family-style table. There were eight kids. The dad also encouraged Grayson to continue dating his daughter.
On the third or fourth date, Grayson told me he became suspicious of the young girl because she had a few minor problems keeping up with his conversation. Then he asked her outright how old she was. She said 15 (legally below the age of consent). You can imagine the shock. She was what we called jail bait; too young to be dating a 28-year-old, and if caught, he could be prosecuted. He quickly took her home. The young lady was disappointed and said that she would soon be 16 and, besides, she had her father’s permission to date older men, and her dad liked Grayson.
He asked me what to do. He liked her. I asked him if it would be possible to bring her to the military base to give her a tour and to meet with me and the unit Chaplain. He agreed. They were clearly compatible, seemed happy with one another, and she was obviously enamored with Grayson but was 15. It was agreed that if they wanted to continue the relationship, any date had to be at her parent’s home until she was 16. They both agreed.
A couple of years ago, Grayson called me out of the blue. I’d not heard from him in decades, and I had lost track like so many folks I’d met over the years. He called to thank me for the advice and getting the Chaplain involved. He wanted also to give me an update.
Grayson said he followed our advice, dated this young lady for two more years, and then married shortly before her 18th birthday. They are still married, have four children and 13 grandchildren, living in South Carolina on a small farm, and recently retired from a second career as the owner of a construction company.
Now, that is indeed a good news story of the day. No regrets.
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