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Generous and kind stranger

By Staff | Aug 3, 2010

Marty Hall met up with Iowa Guardsman Josh Hayden, who bought roses for her last week. Photo submitted

The joy of finding the kind and generous young Iowa National Guardsman prior to the send-off ceremony at the Estherville Armory on Aug. 1 was sweet but was tinged with bitter flecks for Marty Hall of Estherville.

It was on July 23 that the young soldier, Josh Hayden of Bode, met Hall for the first time and ended up presenting her with a bouquet so “she wouldn’t have to buy her own roses.”

They struck up a friendly conversation at the floral counter at HyVee in Estherville. Once presented with the gift of flowers, Hall was so overcome with joy and tears; she didn’t have the chance to get his name.

But that changed this week.

She was able to ascertain the young man’s name Josh Hayden of Bode prior to Sunday’s send-off. Upon arriving at the send-off ceremony, Hall asked military personnel if they knew where Hayden was. He and Hall were re-introduced. He told Hall his wife, mother and children hadn’t arrived yet but were on their way.

When they did arrive, Hall said, “They treated me like family!”

She continued, “HyVee had sent with me a bouquet of flowers for his wife Candi. She presented me with three roses,” Hall said, visibly touched by the event.

There were hugs, smiles and tears all around which included the five Hayden children between the ages of 7 and 6 months.

“The Haydens have a very nice family and it was exciting to be there with him and his family. It was very sad too,” Hall said.

After the hour-long event, the buses loaded up and departed at noon. “It was quite traumatic for everyone there; especially seeing the all of the little children crying for their fathers who were leaving.”

There was a flip side. “It was a wonderful send-off; so many people were there in support of our unit.

Hayden’s wife and children will also be departing the Hawkeye State for a year as they will be living with grandparents on an Ohio farm near the city of Kinsman while he and his unit are in Afghanistan.

Once the buses left and Hall and the Haydens were getting ready to part ways, there was one more sweet moment for Hall as four of the five Hayden children said, “Bye Marty!”