One of those quiet heroes

I’m devoutly grateful that a Vietnam War veteran was on hand when he was needed last week.

He’d finished his tutorial and was walking around the room to survey the children’s chess moves when a man brandishing two knives burst into the room threatening to kill them.

James Vernon, a 75-year-old Vietnam War-era veteran, who volunteers weekly teaching chess to about 16 home-schooled children at the public library in Morton, Illinois, had only one thought: “This is not going to happen.”

The children, aged 7 to 14, froze in their seats. Vernon approached the man, identified by local press as 19-year-old Dustin Brown, and calmly asked him questions in an attempt to defuse the situation. Brown stood there making shallow cuts in his own left arm. He told Vernon his whole life sucked.

. . .

He asked Brown to let the children leave and they could talk it out. A mother in the room took the cue and hurried the children out the room. It was then that Brown lunged. Vernon lifted his hand to block him and was stabbed deep into his palm and through two arteries. His blood splattered on the plastic chess pieces and on the library carpet.

Vernon fought back and overcame him, and somehow got him flipped on to one of the conference tables – he said the minute or so of hand-to-hand combat is a blur. “I was operating at the animal level for a few seconds there,” he said. “I needed to stop him from assaulting these children or their mothers with those knives.”

He’s got weak knees, a bad shoulder and high blood pressure, but his body was “adequate for the job,” he said. He credited his basic Army training from over 50 years ago for knowing what to do in a knife-fight.

There’s more at the link.

Both men went to hospital, then the attacker went to jail.  I sincerely hope Mr. Vernon’s courage receives official recognition . . . but I daresay the overwhelming relief and joy in the faces of the parents of the children he saved is probably all he wants or needs.

Would that there were more like him.  Thank you, Sir.



  1. Just to clarify: he's not a "Vietnam war Veteran"…. he never served in combat or overseas.
    The article calls him a "Vietnam-era veteran", meaning he served during that time, but he is not an actual veteran of 'Nam.
    In one article I read, they pointed out that he served stateside, and "never saw any combat".

  2. Tom, a combat vet told me (Cold War vet) that without the efforts of all of us who weren't in a combat zone, they couldn't have done their jobs. Every vet is important and should be respected. God bless, and all thanks to Mr. Vernon for his work with the kids, and bravery that saved lives.

  3. Once again, the folly of denying the competent and brave the best means of defense is proved. This did turn out all right, albeit at substantial cost to Mr. Vernon.

    While reading the initial reports on this I wondered what the outcome would have been if, instead of Mr. Vernon, the children were being instructed by a typical Vagina-American with which our school systems are infested. Not that it's impossible a V-A could have risen in defense, but whose strength deficiencies would have been greatly more dependent upon proper tools for defense.

  4. Vietnam veteran or not, he served his community well and committed a selfless act that very likely saved some lives. I do hope he gets some official recognition, but doubt the media will do so.

    Thank you Peter.

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