• May 16, 2022

Four Vets Get Together After 50 Years

50 years later, four U.S. Marines reunited to take a photo together. A recreation of a photo they had taken half a century earlier. The last time they were all together was when they were deployed to Vietnam.

Squeezing a long board into an elevator in preparation for the shot proved comical as the men joked about the differences between then and now. With grey hair, wrinkles and the look of all that the golden age awards the men eagerly prepared for the recreate the imagery of their youth. The last time they all stood together on a beach with a long board behind them, they were naive to the hard road ahead and the terrors they would endure.

“We had the tools. We had the training,” DeVenezia said. “But nothing trains you for your first combat. Nothing. Zero.” In 1966, the group was stationed together in Camp Pendleton near San Diego. Over two years to follow, they trained together and then deployed to Vietnam where the group was separated and the men, each battling the trauma of the fighting, lost each other.

They all went on to create successful careers when they returned. They raised their children and loved their families. And the thought of their friends, so many years ago, was pushed to the back of their minds as the negativity surrounding the Vietnam war and the Veterans dragged down any positive revelry they might have imagined about a reunion. A few from the group had met up once and again but never had all four men, who as boys, forged such a strong friendship been reunited.

71-year old Bob Falk went to 6 different stores to find just the right white and blue striped shirt as to match the original photograph. They borrowed a surfboard from a surfer and marched to the beach for the recreation. Knowing that many of their fellow soldiers never came back from Vietnam, the four Veterans of war exchanged heartfelt respect.

“We all know,” Puleo said, “that we’ve been given a gift of 50 years.”