Michael Menta: I think the fact that you were in the Marines, I was in the Navy, we um, understood each other.
Sal Leone: Mm.
MM: You know, nobody knows that they have cigarettes in a C-Ration.
MM: Or Chiclet gums in an MRE with a roll of toilet paper. We spoke the same language, and, definitely looked up to you like my older brother. How did you learn um, you were sick?
SL: I had been very active, I was out in the backyard, cleaning a roof.
SL: And then all of a sudden I started getting dizzy. I thought I had a cold.
MM: As soon as I found out about that letter the Marine Corps sent you about the potential exposure you had to contaminated water, I basically dragged you to the VA.
SL: After some time, they gave me chemo, which really destroyed me.
MM: When I first got down to Florida, and I saw you in the bed, I probably told you how ugly you looked.
MM: You were not getting any results. And they said, not much more we can do for you, um…and then they asked you what do you want to do? And you said, ‘I want to go back to Connecticut’…That night, we were on the road, coming home.
SL: You know, you came in just in the nick of time like a knight in shining armor. And, I’m grateful to you for getting me up here.
MM: Yeah I, I felt I was uh, not only helping you as my uncle, but I felt I was helping a fellow soldier. Part of me wants to still serve, but I can’t, I’m too old.
SL: Me too.
MM: Yeah. So, that was my mission was to get you home, dead or alive. And we did that.
SL: Almost dead.
MM: You, you scared me on the road a couple times. Couple times I had to nudge you to see if you were breathing.
SL: [laughs] As far as dying, I never think about it. I, I look at one day at a time. And all I gotta do is get through the next night, I’m still alive, it’s a great day.
MM: I take away your courage in everything you do.
MM: You got a, a Save The Date with the Grim Reaper, and you’re still upbeat, having fun. You were a good Marine, you still are a good Marine.
SL: Yeah I am intensely proud to have served. You know a lot of people say I’m an ex, I’m a former. And I tell em, ‘I’m not an ex. I’m not a former. I am.’