The kindness of strangers: Navy veteran thanks Vietnam veteran for his kindness as airport volunteer


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A voicemail and Facebook post about the kindness of strangers turned into a special moment at the Norfolk International Airport on Monday.

One week ago on Monday, Dan Bohlke was at the airport and saw a family visibly confused. Before he could offer help, an airport volunteer — later identified as Nathan Cornish — stepped in.

“He said ‘where are you folks all from?’ And they said ‘Vietnam’ and he paused and said ‘Oh, I was in Vietnam in ’68,” said Bohlke.

Bohlke says he got a lump in his throat.

“Here we are 53 years later, after we fought a bitter war with Vietnam, and this man was there and now he’s helping people that are from Vietnam through our local airport and I thought ‘wow that’s really great.’ I mean, what an inclusive, generous country that we live in,” Bohlke said.

He reached out to 10 On Your Side.

We found that veteran and volunteer, Cornish.

“I’ve never met a stranger,” Cornish said.

He and his wife Vera have been volunteering at the airport for a few years. For him, his interaction with the family from Vietnam was all in a day’s work.

“I walked over to him and said ‘Sir can I help you?’ and he said ‘I need to get my luggage’ I said, ‘C’mon, let’s walk,'” Cornish said.

WATCH BELOW: Part I: Searching for an airport volunteer veteran.

Monday afternoon, Bohlke and Cornish met, because Bohlke wanted to thank him for his service abroad and here at home.

Bohlke presented Cornish with a patriotic wreath made by his friend Teresa.

“You can your family can hang this,” said Bohlke. “It says ‘God Bless America’.”

It was an honor for the man who is constantly kind to others.

“I like meeting people, I like helping people, and the more I can help people, the better I feel,” said Cornish.

The values instilled in him since childhood frame the mission that defines him, whether it’s serving overseas or helping strangers at the airport.

“Humans are humans,” said Cornish. “Treat everybody with respect.”

Bohlke says he was also struck by the selflessness of Cornish, who is 72 years old and still volunteering in the middle of a pandemic.

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