“Dave, so why do you want to work for Nailco in the warehouse?”

“I did some research on your company and it sounded very exciting. Plus I can do the work.”

“Cool, you’re hired.”

“Awesome Larry”

That was July 1988. Folsom (I always referred to him as Folsom so that will be his name for this blog) quickly became the warehouse manager as we got to 10 employees and business boomed. But Folsom wanted to move into sales. “Larry, I think I can sell nail products to these manicurists. Have you thought about doing outside sales?” asked Folsom. “Not really since we have the catalog and store. But what do you know about nails? You would have to go to manicuring school and get your license,” I said knowing full well he would never do it.

Folsom signed up and got his manicure license. And back then, guy manicurists were quite the rage but luckily Folsom never worked in a nail salon. Still in the warehouse and now selling too, we adding tanning in 1990. This got his attention as he loved the tanning business. It was here he was introduced to Joe D., one of his first and most pain in the ass tanning customers. Folsom would do delivery, replace acrylic shields and bulbs, and just about anything else.

Alas the fever got to him so much he left Nailco to start his own tanning salon less than a mile away. He learned quickly that running a business wasn’t for him.  I am sure he left feeling guilty about leaving so shut his salon down and went to work for one of Nailco’s (now we were Nailco Salon Marketplace) competitors’, U.S. Lighting Supply.

But Folsom wanted to come back, perhaps his guilt of leaving Nailco was too much. Finally we agreed to meet and it didn’t take long before Folsom came back to the company and zoomed ahead in the tanning business. Eventually he would move into the Wholesale division and expand his role in the company.

Sometime along the way, perhaps in 1997, he got the urge to enlist in the National Guard. I asked him why. “Because LG (the name he called me moving forward) I’ve always wanted to serve our country.” I agreed since he would be away one week, two weeks and even longer at certain times of the year. We were so busy we could ill-afford to lose him during that time but it was what he wanted.

Folsom loved being part of the Guard. in fact, he got promoted many times. Then 9/11 happened. It has been so long ago I am sure many people forgot what year it happened. Much like the somberness at TNG today, then too was a very somber time. As we know 9/11 changed everything and started the war on terrorism.

Folsom’s first deployment was to Guantanamo Bay. He was gone for 6 months (sorry but I could be off a bit on the timing). We all wished him farewell and held his job open for him upon his return. First and foremost, Folsom was a soldier through and through. He accepted every challenge thrown his way. His superiors loved him and kept promoting him. However it was his second deployment to Afghanistan that most likely did him in and when he developed PTSD. We only learned of this recently and to tell you the truth, “civilians” are out of touch with what goes on with the military and the government keeps it that way.

I know from watching Homeland (Carrie and Saul trying to save the world) what happened to Peter Quinn. War is brutal. Soldiers are soldiers for a reason: They want to be soldiers. They understand the risks and rewards. It’s no different than being a coal miner or working in other high risk jobs. It comes with the territory.

Folsom was different the past couple years. The Guard promoted him yet again and I think his last promotion was too much for him. I even talked to him about it and how it was time to decide which career path he was going to continue since both was not an option. Heck I have known Folsom for nearly 30 years but then again, do you really know anyone? We barely know ourselves. One side of our brain tells us to quit smoking, exercise, eat healthy, sleep 8 hours, yet the other part of our brain decides to do something else.

In the end, we lost a good guy. Chalk it up to 9/11, PTSD, the military, and you understand that America is the greatest nation on earth because of people like Dave Folsom. Folsom’s story is certainly not the first and will certainly not be the last to be told, but it sure would be nice if the greatest nation on earth took care of those that help make it that way.

We will miss you Folsom, you were our first Rebel and always believed in TNG. We will miss you at the annual MSU football game, we will miss you leading the Guard to do the national anthem at our annual meeting. And we will miss your spirit that made everything around you a bit prouder to be an American.