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Marine gives military coins to mechanics who fixed his truck for free

Updated: Dec. 31, 2019 at 10:43 PM CST
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LEOPOLD, Mo. (KFVS) - A Heartland repair shop went the extra mile to thank a veteran customer, by fixing his truck for free while he was on active duty.

This holiday season, the Marine returned home.

On New Years Eve he stopped by the repair shop to repay the mechanics for their generous favor.

Veteran Ben Johnston drove his 1998 GMC Sierra back to Beussink Transmission to hand deliver military coins to the four mechanics who worked on his truck.

“A phone call is cool but I was trying to come home so I could thank them in person,” Johnston said. “The Latin on the coin means ‘Always Faithful.’ It’s just a small token of appreciation and its very meaningful and heart felt."

Johnston just finished five years of service with the Marine Corps.

He first learned about the complimentary repair job in 2017 while he was serving on a ship overseas.

“It’s pretty huge actually," Johnston said. "You’re working twelve hours on, twelve hours off. Every single day. You don’t get a break, you don’t get a day off. When you hear something like that, it really kind of like ‘Ok, this is why I’m doing this. For people like these guys.’”

Mike Vandeven owns the repair shop.

He said they replaced the fly wheel on Johnston’s truck, which cost more than $400.

“When they come in and paid for it they said he was active duty and I was like wow because at the time there we some crazy things going on in the world," Vandeven said. “It just hit me and I went to the back and talked to the guys and I told them I think we are just going to do this one for free and they all agreed. They said it really surprised them and they really surprised me today, so we’re even on that for sure.”

Ben’s parents were also moved by the kind gesture.

They said the generosity of the repair shop helped during a stressful time. They did not know where their son was serving or if he was in danger.

“You don’t see it everyday, you really don’t. We really appreciate it,” said Joe Johnston.

“Joe and I both cried," said Marsha Johnston. "Because that kindness, It was beyond anything that we would’ve ever thought.”

Ben Johnston is encouraging more people to recognize his fellow brothers and sisters in arms in 2020.

“Veterans day is not just a day it’s a year," Johnston said. "In one day you can not thank somebody enough for basically signing a blank check up and to their life. You know if you see a veteran walking around shake their hand.”

Right now, Johnston is on inactive reserve for the military.

He is planning to go to college to study marine mechanics.

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