NBA Hall-of-Famer brings 5.11 store and special tribute to Ruston

Karl Malone's tribute to veterans

RUSTON, La. (KARD, KTVE) - For NBA Hall-of-Famer Karl Malone 5.11 Tactical is more than just a store.

"It's a dream come true this is something we started talking about almost three years ago," Malone said.
It's a symbol, with a message to the men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice.

"It's to tell them thanks," he said.
Thomas Aiken, a Vietnam veteran with the U.S. Navy says the way people treated military coming back from war has changed over the years.
"When I first came back they really didn't care," Aiken said.
"It's done a 360 [since then]."
Malone put together a special dedication at the new store in Ruston that makes it different from the 13 locations.
A mural that helps people remember a special group.

"The ones that aren't forgotten; our Prisoners of Wars and Missing in Action," Aiken said.
(J.D. Harper, post commander ruston veterans of foreign affairs)
"Soldiers male or female whose over there that never come home," Veteran of Foreign Affairs Post Commander, J.D. Harper said.
"We never talk about it," Maline said.
"They're still working to bring our men and women home from wars from years and years ago. These men and women right here are heroes."
In Ruston he wants to make sure those heroes are in everyone's thoughts and prayers.
"This right here will allow you to be a little bit closer to your fallen comrades," Malone said.

"It was very moving in my book," Harper said.
During Malone's speech he shed a tear. KTVE/KARD asked him why.
"There's some 18, 19, 20 year-old kid over there that's fighting for their lives to defend our freedom," he said.

"They appreciate their veterans before they even care about their store," Aiken said.

The 5.11 stores serves all first responders, but vets will receive special treatment in the store which includes free coffee and a lounge right where the mural was made.
Malone extended a personal invite to service men and women from all over.
"To any vet that's watching this on i-20 going east or west north or south cutting through, this will always be lit up for you."
Since 5-11's corporate leaders heard about the special mural they plan on following suit and making similar dedications in their stores around the country.

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