Joining the military can put people in harm's way. But for one Wisconsin college student, it actually did the opposite.
The 21-year-old University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee sophomore, who joined the Army Reserve a year ago, said he was walking home from work early Tuesday morning when four masked men forced him into an alley at gunpoint.
After ordering him to the ground, the reservist said the men took his wallet, keys, cell phone, and even an energy bar wrapper from his pants pockets.
But when one of the robbers started going through the wallet, the reservist said the hostilities immediately ceased.
"They found my military ID which stopped them dead in their tracks," the student, who asked not to be identified, told WTMJ-TV. "What I presume to be the leader said, 'We can't do this. We've got to give him his stuff back.'"
The reservist said the suspects, whose faces were covered by stocking caps, then returned the wallet, phone, and wrapper and apologized before walking away.
"One of the individuals came back and gave me a fist-bump on their way out and said, 'Thank you for what you do,'" he said.
The reservist, who has never been deployed and is the first person in his immediate family to join the military, said he realized later his keys were still missing, but wasn't sure if the men intended to keep them.
Milwaukee police said the student is credible, and investigators suspect the assailants, who are still at large, carried out two other robberies that same night. No one was seriously injured in those incidents, and one of the victims was reportedly a rabbi.
"I'm just awe-struck that everything was given back to me due to just being in the military," the reservist told the Associated Press. "I realize in pretty much every other situation that wouldn't happen."