A gift from another wood worker turned into an object of immortality

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Forum topic by woodenwarrior posted 11-01-2013 05:13 AM 1361 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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226 posts in 2160 days

11-01-2013 05:13 AM

This may be a long post so if you don’t enjoy reading, now would be a good time to move along to another post…

Okay, here’s the deal (I say this a lot, you’ll get used it): So I dropped my wife off at the airport in Kansas City and decided that since I was here I should stop into the ONLY Woodcraft store within a million miles of where I’m stationed (okay, maybe not quite a million but its a lot). As I’m drooling in my “man-toy store” I met Gary Kepko, he is one of the employees of the Woodcraft store and also the commander of the local VFW. As I was still in uniform, he immediately hit me up for being in the military and that he would give me a 10% military discount…how can you NOT want to shop in a store like that? I digress… Anyhoo, as I was checking out with my new found goodies and Gary asked me if my address was correct and where was the last place I was deployed; I told him Afghanistan. I assumed he would be sending me the usual VFW literature…. I was wrong!!!

I received in the mail today a beautiful turned rifle cartridge pen with the campaign ribbon denoting service in Afghanistan as the motif. To say the least I was blown away by his thoughtfulness!!

Here’s what I am going to do:

As a First Sergeant of a tank company, part of what I enjoy doing is creating traditions that will carry on the legacy of my Soldiers and the company. Every six months, my company goes out for the better part of three weeks to conduct tank gunnery. At gunnery, my tank crews hone and refine their tank marksmanship skills through multiple tank gunnery tables culminating with a qualification table. After their qualification gunnery table I set up what we call the “Wolves Den” ( we are D Co 1-16 Infantry…the Wolfpack). At the Wolves Den we celebrate every crew that qualifies their tank crew on the first attempt (sounds easy…its not). We glorify their achievement with cake, punch and cigars that are shared with them by the Company and Battalion leadership. Most importantly, the crews must all make their mark in the log book.

The log book is a running journal of each crew’s triumph at gunnery. It is a living document that is passed on from First Sergeant and Commander to First Sergeant and Commander. It is a documentation of the precision, discipline and excellence that each qualifying crew of the company has displayed. In the log, each crew member writes his name, position, vehicle number and any remarks they choose to include. The log is bound in black leather and is clasped with straps and buckles from worn tanker boots. It has, up to this point, been missing one crucial item…a designated writing instrument with which my Soldiers can make their mark. This is where my gifted pen comes in.

The pen I received from Gary Kepko I believe would be the perfect log book pen. It signifies both the past and present and will remain relevant to the future of the Wolfpack. It will be the official and ONLY writing instrument for the log. I am proud to be able to add this gift to the traditions of my company and hope Gary understands that the craftsmanship he has created will become immortalized in the annals of Wolfpack history for many years to come.

I needed to share this with all of you because this is what keeps me doing what I do.

-- Do or do not...there is no try - Master Yoda

13 replies so far

View Handtooler's profile


1542 posts in 2097 days

#1 posted 11-01-2013 09:36 AM

Bless you, TOP! Such a great tribute to the real craftsman that created that pen, and to you as a true leader as I’m sure you are. As a previous USAF Squadron twice, I completely depended on my First Seargents and senior NCO’s for the Outstanding achievements the squadrons contiuually received during Operational Readiness Inspections. Here’s to ya!

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15280 posts in 2583 days

#2 posted 11-01-2013 11:28 AM

Wow, great story and great tradition. Thanks for the post, I enjoyed it very much.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2257 days

#3 posted 11-01-2013 11:38 AM

Great story! Great tradition and addition to that tradition! Thank you for your service and God bless our military!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


8164 posts in 2542 days

#4 posted 11-01-2013 01:54 PM

Thank you for your service and sharing a great story.

God bless our military.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4183 days

#5 posted 11-01-2013 02:09 PM

Great story. Thanks!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View sras's profile


4790 posts in 3094 days

#6 posted 11-01-2013 02:20 PM

What a cool story!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View bbrewer's profile


43 posts in 1941 days

#7 posted 11-01-2013 02:24 PM

Thanks for sharing and I really appreciate what you do. Awesome gifted pen and perfect use.

-- Tom southern MI

View firefighterontheside's profile


17942 posts in 1822 days

#8 posted 11-01-2013 02:36 PM

Both of you guys have set a very good example. I thank you both for your service.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View DrDirt's profile


4423 posts in 3707 days

#9 posted 11-01-2013 02:48 PM

Great story – they are a good bunch there in KC.
The KC woodworkers guild is also really strong, and there are great wood stores there like Metro Hardwoods, and Frank Paxton Lumber.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2879 days

#10 posted 11-01-2013 03:56 PM

Wow, very nice dedication and tradition. Thanks for sharing.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View PASs's profile


595 posts in 3064 days

#11 posted 11-01-2013 08:15 PM

Great call,
Great pen,
Ahhh, Afghanistan…last and toughest tour in my career.
Keep the faith.

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

View scrollingmom's profile


1161 posts in 2429 days

#12 posted 11-06-2013 08:01 PM

Thanks for sharing.

-- Kelly, Allen,KS

View moke's profile


1154 posts in 2741 days

#13 posted 11-07-2013 06:15 PM

I think your new tradition is one that not only will be enjoyed by the men, but would make the Woodcraft employee, Gary, extremely proud and a just reward for his efforts too. Thanks for your service and everyone on this site that has spent time in the Military for all the rest of us…

-- Mike

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