Sgt. Weston DeBoer won’t soon forget the feeling of the spotlight shining on him at a WWE show following the playing of our national anthem. As the crowd chanted, “USA! USA!,” he felt an immense pride in his service of country.
He was three years into his time with the National Guard. In that moment back in 2013, DeBoer says he could literally feel the support of those cheering around him.
Even with that monumental moment, it was an encounter around that same time with a WWE star than made an even bigger impression.
That superstar was Cody Rhodes.
At that point, DeBoer was a private living in Rochester, Minnesota. His sergeant knew he had been a wrestling fan since childhood and asked him to assist with an autograph signing. He had met wrestlers before — but this encounter was different.
Immediately, DeBoer felt the respect.
Even though the serviceman was younger, Cody called DeBoer sir. In fact, DeBoer clearly recalls Rhodes being polite with everyone he met at the meet and greet — whether military or civilian.
“He was very humble the entire time he was there,” DeBoer said about the experience. “You never felt like he was this big superstar that was better than everyone else.”
After the event, Cody approached DeBoer and asked him a few questions about himself. The then-private was able to ask Rhodes a few of his own.
“For me, it meant a lot. He could have acted like he was bigger than life. Instead, he was a very down-to-earth guy,” DeBoer said.
When most people look at the picture the two took that day, they’d say the hero is on the left. And they’d be correct.
But even a hero needs an escape from the harshness that can be life. One he, and hundreds of his fellow servicemen and women, find in professional wrestling.
“Wrestling, for me, is kind of my break from reality,” DeBoer explained.
“Cody gained a lot of respect in my view.”
The son of a common man making a lasting impression on the uncommon — a small opportunity to return the immense favor of freedom.