MG Patraeus told the following story during his speech to the 2004 graduates from Westpoint:
As the story goes, a Marine walked into the shop there and asked the barber for a good high and tight haircut. So the barber cut his hair and gave him a good close high and tight. But when the Marine asked him how much he owed, the barber responded, “No thanks, I couldn’t possibly accept your money. You’re serving our country and we appreciate what you do for America.” The Marine snapped to attention, said, “Hoorah, sir,” and drove away in his new, red, Dodge truck. And the next morning, on the steps of the shop, the barber found a Semper Fi coin and a red Marine PT shirt.
An Air Force officer showed up later that day and sat down in the chair. “What’ll you have?” the barber asked. A very light trim,” the Air Force officer replied, “block the back and don’t touch the pony tail.” (Pause) “And take your time. I’ve already flown my four hours this month and the club doesn’t open for two hours.” So the barber gave him a nice, leisurely haircut and, once again, when asked how much, the barber said, “I couldn’t possibly accept your money. You’re serving our country and I’d like you to accept this haircut as a token of my appreciation for what you’re doing.” The Air Force officer replied, “Aim high!”, got into his new dark blue Corvette, and drove off. And the next morning, on the steps of his shop, the barber found an aviator’s scarf and a pair of Air Force sunglasses.
That afternoon, a West Point Tactical Officer strode briskly into the shop. “I need a good Army haircut,” he said, “but be quick, because I’ve got two inspections, a disciplinary board, and a meeting with the Com to go to this afternoon.” So the barber gave him a good, quick haircut and, once again, when asked how much, replied that he couldn’t possibly accept payment from someone serving his country, etc., etc. The Captain brusquely said, “Air Assault,” got into his 10-year old Plymouth Voyager -- with two infant car seats in the back -- and sputtered away. And the next morning, on the steps of his shop, the barber found 10 Army captains waiting for him….