USA Today has a feature on these four old U.S. Marine buddies who reunited to recreate a photo they posed for 50 years ago. Bob Falk, Dennis Puelo, Tom Hanks (“not that one”) and Bob DeVenenzia took the original photo back just before they shipped off to the living hell that was Vietnam, a war that split a nation – and the four friends – apart.
“We just broke up,” DeVenezia said. “Life is funny like that. I didn’t keep in touch with any of them. There was something about the Vietnam War and the negativity we kept hearing.”
In 1966, the four U.S. Marines were stationed together in Camp Pendleton, outside San Diego. …
Over the next two years, they’d train together and deploy together. Once in Vietnam, they’d separate, enduring many of the same horrendous conditions, if not the same action. Two of them would earn Purple Hearts. Each would experience the unexplainable fear of war.
“We had the tools. We had the training,” DeVenezia said. “But nothing trains you for your first combat. Nothing. Zero.” …
But they had survived, and more than that, they had lived.
“We all know,” Puleo said, “that we’ve been given a gift of 50 years.”
I post this as a reminder of what true manhood is all about. It’s about courage. Toughness. Duty. Honor. And it’s also about friendship. I’m fortunate to still be with the guys I grew up with, and I appreciate that. But ours is a bond forged by sports, beer, Fantasy Football and telling the same stupid stories about high school. Falk, Puelo, Hanks and DeVenezia have a bond forged by bravery. And it’s a sin against nature that the attitude of the country ripped them apart until now.
Every guy likes to think his buddy would be there for him in a bad spot. But these guys literally were covering each others’ backs in the worst situation imaginable. And it’s great to see they’re every bit the badass old men they were as young Marines. Here’s hoping they pose for this photo again in 50 more years. Semper Fi.
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