Army Lt. Col. Robert Risdon stared directly at the door of the Taco Bell the second he noticed two guys. He felt exhausted, but being a soldier means you never let your guard down. He suddenly felt every muscle tense up. He had been trained as an Army Ranger, which means he could rely on his heavy training any time he felt the situation called for it. He didn't want any trouble that day, so he remained frozen, staring at the door. Suddenly, two boys walked towards him.
Robert Risdon had just made an appearance at the Senior Bowl when he suddenly felt like stopping for some tacos. He was seriously hungry. But when he stopped at the Taco bell in the town of Greenville, Alabama, he could've never imagined what was about to take place.
Some people were born to defend anyone who may be in need, even if it means putting their own lives at risk. It's those acts of bravery that make the world have nothing but admiration for anyone who's willing to do anything to protect us. As an Army Ranger, Risdon had seen it all. But he would've never imagine that his heroic act at an Alabama Taco Bell would end up getting so much praise around the world.
Suddenly, the two boys made their way inside the Taco Bell. But they didn't take Risdon by surprise as he was pretty tense with anticipation. All the other customers momentarily stared at them, trying to take a peek at the strangers that had just walked in. It went silent in the Taco Bell. The weather was awful outside, as it was raining heavily. You could even hear the raindrops hitting the asphalt outside. The boys moved towards him against the neon sign above the door.
Once the boys were in plain sight, Risdon took notice of the way they looked. Their clothes looked like they’d been through the wringer and rainwater dropped from their sleeves. He jotted these little details down in his mind without thinking. For example, the larger guy kept his hands hidden in the pockets of his black windbreaker. He couldn’t stop shaking either. But was it because he was cold or was he afraid?
If anyone understood what being hungry in extreme cold temperature was like, it was Lt. Col. Robert Risdon. He had been physically and mentally pushed to the limits while stationed in Saudi Arabia. “I can’t even count the number of times I was cold, wet and hungry in the Army,” he said in an interview after footage of the Greenville Taco Bell incident hit the web.
The boys approached Risdon, but he stood his ground. However, his mind was racing a mile a minute, and his hands wouldn’t stop shaking. And yet it seemed to take forever for them to get to him. Then Risdon’s suspicions were confirmed. The boys did something that proved they didn’t come to Taco Bell to eat, which he feared from the beginning.
The young men asked Risdon flat out if he had any cash on him, but he didn’t. In fact, he had gotten used to not carrying cash in his pockets or wallet. Credit cards were easier to carry and way more efficient. He was a trained Army soldier, so every action he took was done with precision and efficiency.
The footage of how Risdon reacted to the two boys accumulated over 39,000 shares and more than 1.8 million views on social media. But it was Jason Gibson who saw the whole incident unfold at Taco Bell that rainy night. Once he realized what was happening, he took his phone out and started recording the whole thing. Fortunately, everyone on the internet is glad he did or no one would have ever known what happened.
The two boys were stunned. They had asked Risdon if he had any cash on him, and he replied to them with a question. The young boys were obviously confused and cautious. Their eyes kept shifting back and forth between the door and Risdon. They weren’t sure if they should stick around or run after Risdon asked them a simple question: “Can you boys finish off 10 tacos?”
Risdon asked the boys if they had eaten and they claimed they hadn’t. So, the soldier walked them to the Taco Bell counter, and told them to order anything they wanted. Then they explained the real reason they had walked into the restaurant. They told him that they were raising money for their local church by selling candy. The soldier realized his mistake and was touched by their determination to do something for a good cause.
The boys were only 9 and 13 years old, but they devoured those tacos like a starving platoon. At that moment, Risdon knew that he made the right choice offering to buy them some food. Seeing the smile on their faces was pretty much the only thanks he wanted. He continued to enjoy a couple of bonding moments with the boys before they took off.
The footage didn’t show this, but one of the boys was so grateful for the soldier’s generosity that he tried to thank him by saluting with one hand. But he didn’t do it right, so Risdon had to teach him the proper way to salute to a soldier. Of course, that wasn’t easy for the boy since he was clutching to the tacos with his other hand. It almost seemed as if he was determined to hang on to the food for dear life.
Those who didn’t know that Lt. Col. Robert Risdon was a real American hero, realized it when they saw the footage of how he helped those boys in need. When the kids initially interrupted his dinner, it didn’t occur to him that he would wind up feeding them. But as a father of two, Risdon empathized with those two boys the moment they walked into Taco Bell all hungry and soaking wet from the rain.
Risdon was very modest when he was asked what it felt like being called a hero on social media. “I’m kinda embarrassed and humbled by the praise and don’t need it… I think throughout my childhood I was around people who taught me there’s more to life than taking care of yourself.”
"It seemed like a very small gesture I could do for two kids that were trying to make some money in the rain on a school night," added Risdon, and shared that this was simply the way he was taught to behave. "So, absolutely it was my duty to at least get them something to eat." But he didn’t realize the boys would behave the way they did.
Risdon got all warm and happy when the youngest boy approached and told him, "You know, I want to be just like you someday." He had joined the Army so he could serve his country. It didn’t matter if he was abroad or at home, becoming that boy’s role model reaffirmed the reasons why he decided to serve. The entire experience that night was heartwarming, to say the least, and no one at that restaurant could dispute that.
Risdon was accompanied by Jason Gibson that night, and Gibson had a good reason for recording the whole thing. “When I saw him take the kids up to the counter I thought, you know, I’m gonna videotape this,” he explained. “Because you see all the negative stuff on TV, I’m kinda tired of it.” He and Risdon were simply trying to share the kindness.
Risdon called the boys “two good kids and they’ve got good hearts.” He could see that they had potential, so he gave them a piece of valuable advice. "When you’re older and you’re in a position to help someone out -- don’t pass it up," he shared. Now the boys have to uphold that promise, but they probably don’t realize that they taught Risdon something in the process.
After sharing how much the boys claimed to admire him, Risdon shared: “They inspire me as much as I may have made them feel good by just filling their bellies a little bit.” This just proves that we’re never too young or two old to learn something new, even if we are two kids doing charity work or veterans who have endured many tours of duty.