Collin County Sheriff Deputy Mark Watson got a call about a drunk driver nearby, so he immediately headed out to take a look. It was so late it was practically early, and Watson just wanted to keep the peace.
But when he got to the site where the flagged car was, he saw that it wasn’t an erratic driver going down the street. Just an elderly gentleman sitting inside his car.
Watson approached the vehicle, then realized clearly that he was not dealing with a drunk driver—he was dealing with dementia. The man was lost and confused, sitting in his vehicle and far from home. He didn’t know where he was, or how to get back.
“My brain’s not working,” explained the man.
But Watson had training on how to deal with dementia, and he took the situation in his stride. He asked to search the car and any identification the man had on him, and together they pulled out a couple of business cards, a piece of paper with the man’s home address, and a familiar looking card.
Watson recognized it was discharge papers from the U.S. Marine Corps, as he had some of his own, except they were printed on a small piece of card and was from the ’40s or ’50s.
“And I knew, no doubt in my mind, that I had to get this guy home,” Watson said. He was brought to tears as he read the man’s papers. “They said once a Marine, always a Marine. And that holds true.”
The man was Lyle Wise, 84 years old, and he had gone out to go Christmas shopping. Despite it being late afternoon already, he was determined to go, as buying presents for family members is one of the things that brings him great joy.
But Wise ended up 20 miles from home with no recollection of how to get back.
“I got lost,” he said.
Wise was a former Marine and veteran of the Korean War. Seeing Wise all by himself and confused and lost, Watson was moved to tears. He resolved to get him home safely and personally escorted him through traffic and saw that he got home safely through the door.
Wise’s wife Beverly had been at home with no way to reach him, and was worried sick when Wise had not been back hours after dark, and now it was creeping into the morning.
But when he walked through the front doors and answered simply that he had just gotten lost, she was overjoyed.
The Wises invited Watson in, and he decided to stay in touch.
“We are a band of brothers,” Watson said.