Military ties run deep in the Fort Bragg community and retired Special Forces soldier, Norman Zaldivar knows this better than anyone.
Known to peers in the military community as 'Z', his hobby is matting and framing awards and retirement guidons. He began this service while serving in the Army in order to save his unit some funding. Word got around and Z turned it into a full fledged career upon leaving the 7th Special Forces Group.
Inside the unassuming house turned business on Reilley Road is a real gem called Z's Matting and Framing. Since 2005 Z's Matting and Framing sits outside the gates of Fort Bragg.
This frame shop does more than your average matting and framing picture shop. Z uses his talent to provide mementos to widows and families of the fallen.
For each Special Forces service member that is killed from Fort Bragg, Z crafts memorial bracelets for the family along with a complimentary full size 16x20 portrait of their loved one in uniform.
"Working with widows is always hard," said Z. "By providing them with a quality frame crafted with love and care, that's how I still serve today. It's a real world mission but with a focus on my buddies."
Preserving these memories of the fallen is a pricesless gift for the families that Z spends time with.
Knowing many of these warriors, his band of brothers, Z often recognizes the fallen and recalls the last time he saw that guy or worked with him and saw him. Z's career keeps him plugged into the community.
"I still get to see all the gang," says Z. "It's like I never left".
With the recent move of the Special Forces Group to Florida, Z opened a second store in Niceville to continue to serve his comrades and travels between the two locations.