April Glickman at McConnell AFB’s Military Clothing Store ensured Robben Ledecker, a 94-year-old Navy Veteran, got the uniform he needed to look extra special for his great-grandson’s graduation from basic training at Fort Benning, Ga.
“He was so humble that I thought I was serving my grandfather,” Glickman said.
Codey Follman asked Ledecker, a lieutenant commander during World War II, to pin the infantry cord on Codey’s shoulder during the “Turning Blue Ceremony” on Jan. 16. The blue cords are worn over the right shoulders of all qualified infantrymen.
Ledecker wanted to look his best. Yet, he discovered his original uniform didn’t fit in the right places after all these years. He traveled 65 miles from his home in Arkansas City, Kan., to McConnell in Wichita to seek Glickman’s help.
He was so impressed with Glickman’s service that he called a local news channel, which sent a TV crew out to interview her.
“He came in three or four times just to make sure that everything was OK, and we learned so much about each other,” Glickman said. “He told me his war stories, playing with his great-granddaughter. He told me all about his life. I learned a lot about the man.”
Glickman’s service took extra effort. She got the coat and pants from the Navy Exchange’s website, and even helped Ledecker set up an account.
Because her store didn’t have all the ribbons and other items required for Ledecker’s uniform, she reached out to Exchange Military Clothing stores at MacDill AFB, Tinker AFB, Fort Riley, among others, to find exactly what she needed.
“Whether the person is a Veteran or a military retiree, I always go far and beyond to make that customer feel special,” said Glickman, who’s worked for the Exchange for 19 years, the past five in Military Clothing. “He looked in the mirror and saw himself in his uniform and said, ‘Hey, I look good.’
“I felt honored that I was able to make him feel that way.”
General Manager Robin Ayling said that serving a Veteran such as Ledecker took on special significance.
“These are Veterans from what many people call ‘the greatest generation’ who sacrificed much during World War II,” Ayling said. “When the Exchange began welcoming home all honorably discharged Veterans to shop in-store this year, I knew that we could finally say ‘Thanks’ to people like Ledecker for what he accomplished for the country so many years ago and make them feel very special. In going to great lengths to please a customer, April did just that.”