The new year started with a heartwarming story from a Marine who was passing through Knoxville on New Year’s Day.
On Tuesday Jan. 1, United States Marine Corps Cpl. Tyler Vandeveer was driving back to Camp Lejeune, N.C. from a weekend home in Louisville, Ky.. When he got to the Kentucky/Tennessee state line, he experienced car trouble. Cpl. Vandeveer told the Knoxville Journal, “I had no power when I was going uphill and it just kept getting worse. The car jerked and sounded like it was choking out. I pulled off the next exit and tried to find the closest car repair shop open on a holiday. I had to call my mother to use the Internet because I had no idea what was nearby. She found one close by and when I got there he said that it was my catalytic converter and repair would cost close to $700. However, he wouldn’t be able to get the parts for three days.”
This was a serious problem for Cpl. Vandeveer, because he had to be on base by noon the next day and still had another eight or nine hours to drive. “I called my mom back and asked her to look up a exhaust place in Knoxville knowing there were more repair shops. But I knew it would be nearly impossible to find a place open that late on a holiday,” Cpl. Vandeveer said.
His mother called him back with the name of Mighty Muffler, 3800 Western Ave, just off I-640 that was open and the manager said if he knew the Marine was coming he would stay open. Cpl. Vandeveer related what happened next, “When I arrived at Mighty Muffler on Western Ave., it was already past closing time. Thy close at 5 p.m. There was only the manager, Lynn Grbb, there. He was more than willing to help me. He asked me to pull the car into the bay so he could take a look at it. Within a few minutes he told me what was wrong and said he could have me back on the road in an hour.
The manager politely asked why such a young man was using a cane. “I explained to him that I was injured in Afghanistan and that I had to be back on base by noon the next day.” Cpl. Vandeveer said, “He thanked me for my service and we talked for a few minutes then he started to work on the car. After a few minutes another man showed up and started helping him. It was another employee that came back after he was already off work because there was no one else there when I arrived. In an hour I was back on the road for less than half of what the other mechanic said it would cost.”
Mighty Muffler owner Rick Grubb said employee John Chadwick had already gone home for the day, but called back to check on something and Lynn told him about the Marine. John came back and helped out to get him back on the road quickly.
Chadwick jokingly told the Knoxville Journal he remembered the Marine well, “He (Cpl. Vandeveer) looked like a teen, but they said he was in his 20′s,” When asked, Rick Grubb told the Knoxville Journal, “We did give him a break on the bill.”
Lynn Grubb said, “This young man didn’t know me. Yet he voluntarily risked his life so I could live mine. And he was injured. He did that for me. This was the least I could do for him.”
Cpl. Vandeveer said the manager never once gave him the impression that he was getting anything out of it. “He was just happy to help,” Cpl. Vandeveer said. “Nowadays, it’s hard to find people like that. People don’t want to help each other anymore and its good to know there are still a few good people left.” This stranger was willing to work late on a holiday just to help the young man who was in an unfamiliar town where he knew no one.
Cpl. Vandeveer told the Knoxville Journal, “When people ask me why I joined the Marine Corps or why I put my life on the line the answer is simple. It’s people like them. The good caring people in this country like the Grubb’s and Mr. Chadwick. I would give my life to keep everyone in this country safe but people like that just remind me that what I do isn’t in vain.”
Two weeks later a mishap extensively damaged the Mighty Muffler shop, however, Lynn and Rick Grubb and their crew continue to work outside despite the winter cold until they find a new location.