Army Ranger Lt. Col. Robert Risdon needed a break from the rain... and probably a break from his vehicle, too. He was, after all, making the return trip from Mobile, Alabama, to Columbus, Georgia — a distance of almost 250 miles. The idea of enjoying some warm tacos in a fast-food restaurant was no doubt appealing as well. He likely wanted to eat his food and then be on his way. But it seems that a soldier is never off duty, and he was soon thrust into a situation that required him to jump into action.
One man's decision
In this case, too, Robert's quick decision would end up affecting way more people than he realized. The man certainly couldn't have planned this turn of events. In fact, the army ranger — who was 45 years old at the time — had only been making this journey because of his duties away from the armed forces. And ordering food in a Taco Bell is not usually something that requires army training — but this situation from far from usual.
Robert had traveled from his base in Columbus to Mobile because he was the head coach of the Columbus Lions. That is the indoor football team based in Fort Benning, Georgia. The Lions players were getting ready for the Senior Bowl that weekend, so Robert and his co-coach, Jason Gibson, were in town to check them out. They were on their way home when they stopped into the Taco Bell.
Once inside, Robert and Jason got their order and found themselves a table. And it was after the pair had sat down that two strangers walked into the restaurant. But these two figures did not approach the counter as any normal customer would. Instead, they were carrying a box of their own goods. It was the way that the two looked that caught Robert's attention, though.
These strangers were really just young boys. "They looked like they hadn't eaten a meal in weeks," Robert later told Today. And Robert had some sympathy for their plight in the middle of this rainy weather. "I can't even count the number of times I was cold, wet, and hungry in the Army," he said. But the boys weren't in the restaurant to buy food.