The homeless man and the better world that’s out there

Cancer patient and Vietnam veteran Mike Webb made many friends in his final days on Earth.
Cancer patient and Vietnam veteran Mike Webb made many friends in his final days on Earth. Courtesy James Edward Bates

Celebrate with us the story of Michael Eugene “Mike” Webb, the dying Vietnam veteran whose only home was his truck in the Wal-Mart Supercenter parking lot in Gulfport.

Webb’s fortunes changed a few months ago when he wandered into the Salvation Army. All he wanted was a shower.

He found new friends, April Morton and Leo Suarez, and from them a network of support. James Edward Bates and his Operation Homeless Hope Facebook page helped raise money to get Webb out of the parking lot and into an apartment.

Then Becky Montgomery Jenner heard about Webb and helped him get his discharge papers, which in turn got him into hospice at the Biloxi VA. She took him to Wal-Mart to get new clothes. That was about all he had; new clothes, a duffel bag, two bags of groceries and a food stamp card.

He didn’t need the food stamps; hospice was providing his meals.

So he had Jenner take him to Sam’s Club, where he spent the last of his benefits on groceries the two then delivered to the Salvation Army food pantry.

A few days later, he died, Suarez and Morton by his side.

At Webb’s funeral at the Biloxi National Cemetery, his new friends said it was they who were blessed by their friendship with the once-homeless man.

And that is the story that gives us hope.

And, we should all strive to be like those who looked at Mike Webb and saw not just another homeless soul, but a blessing in disguise.

Their world of compassion is the world we all should choose to live in.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.