Frontline Heroes – A Deputy Marshal’s Story

Date: May 20, 2020

The following is a testimony from Tim Duke, Dennis & Mary Duke’s son, a Deputy Marshal, serving as a frontline first responder in the Dallas area.

I had quite a long day today. I put on my uniform like I normally do; early in the morning. An all-black uniform with an outer duty vest that feels like a sauna. I got myself together, made my “must have” coffee, told my kiddo I loved him and rubbed his greasy/sloppy hair, and headed out the door.

Adorned in a full uniform, face mask, and gloves, I made my way to work knowing days like today would be difficult. I drove my short drive to work on what still seemed like an empty roadway. I pulled up to the employee parking lot and parked next to my big black Chevy Tahoe. I transferred all my tactical gear into the patrol vehicle, started it up, and sat for a moment. I sat and stared for a moment with my coffee in my hand, took a swig as my last moment of peace before entering into a bit of a storm.

I drove off to my destination, an old, original Walmart building converted into a training center. My detail was simple, keep the employees safe from harm and serve as a presence while citizens were tested for a worldwide pandemic. My task was to provide officer presence and directive to the current Government Task Force for drive thru COVID 19 testing.

I take my normal space to be visible by everyone near the entrance of the makeshift drive thru set up by what must be 200+ traffic cones. Me in my face mask, gloves and uniform; volunteers and physicians/doctors in theirs. We all had a role and assignment to fulfill. As the clock struck the top of the hour, cars began coming in by the droves and lining up for testing. As I stood organizing and directing, you saw people and cars as they passed by with a sudden look of fear in their eyes as if to say…” I hope I’m ok.” Line after line of cars began filling up and filtering through. The sun became hotter while standing out there in all black trying to keep the peace in what can be referred to as organized chaos. People filled the parking lot; waiting for their turn to hear the word “negative”. Some would wait hours just to hear this one word. As the day dragged on, I could feel my patience wearing thinner and thinner. However, the last car arrived and now it was time to go home.

I drove my Chevy Tahoe back to the station and parked it accordingly. I was tired. Emotionally and physically. I loaded back up my personal car and began to head down the street toward home. Suddenly I remembered I was short many necessary supplies at home. I did not want to stop for anything. I just wanted to go home and sprawl out on my couch. I called my son and told him to get ready as I’ll pick him up so we can go get some necessary items from the store. As I began driving, I realized I did not want to take any more time than what was needed to get home and relax. I changed my course and went straight to Costco in uniform as it was on my way home.

Although in uniform, I did not want to be bothered by anyone. I was not feeling social. I was greeted by the doorman who said, “thank you for your service” and acknowledged my membership as I walked through the door. I gave him a nod and a smile he couldn’t see hidden under my required mask. I grabbed a food cart and began walking the aisles for my necessary needs. I suddenly caught myself getting more supplies than I thought and realized I had a basket full of groceries that was going to set me back a couple of bills easily. Nonetheless, I needed these items, so I made my way to the cash register in order to pay.

I watched as many people felt the distancing guidelines as odd and unsure of what to do. The employees were helpful and directed people near the checkout. I waited in a line about 4 people deep for my turn to check out. As I got closer, an employee grabbed my cart and slid it up toward the checkout stand. I greeted the cashier as he began scanning my items. I knew that the bill would be a bit much. I stood waiting for my items to be finished checking and the total bill.

Suddenly, an old man, approximately 70 to 75 years old, approaches the register right where I am standing. I immediately thought, “Hello, Social Distancing”, but didn’t utter the words. This old man cut right in front of me and nudged me ever so slightly. Here I am in my uniform and I now am taken back. I go to say “Excuse me, sir”, when suddenly the man takes his credit card and inserts it into the pay machine. He proceeds to say to me, “You work hard, son, this one is on me.” I was speechless for a moment. I uttered the words, “Sir, you don’t have to do that.” He responded, “Yes I do, I have to be obedient. I honor what you do.” I reiterated myself, “Sir, but this is a lot of money.” Again, he called me son…” Son, I have enough money and I want to do it.” It was all I could do to not to allow the entirety of Costco see an Officer in full out tears. I held back my tears and simply looked this man in his eyes with our masks covering the rest of our faces and… I saw something. I saw the warmest eyes I’ve not seen in quite some time. I saw the way Jesus looks at me. How Jesus thinks of me in best and worst of times. I saw an appreciation that went beyond the badge…. I melted. I could only say…” Sir, you touched my heart, Bless You, sir.” This man responded and said, “I know (with a smile through his eyes) …Bless you.”

I walked away fighting back tears, just ready to get into my car so I could reflect on what just happened. I realized today, God still sends angels when we least expect it…, and sometimes, He has to move us out of our own way to do so.

God Bless,

Deputy Marshal Tim Duke

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