by Gary Vickers

On March 1, 2018, four Viet Nam Veterans who served together in 1968-69 with the 1st Cav Division met in California.

Three of these vets, Jim Compton of Ventura, CA, Leonard Bertuli of Mark, IL, and Gary Vickers of Harwood, had been reunited six years ago and have had reunions in Branson and at the Apple Butter Festival at the Vickers farm at Harwood. The fourth vet, Duane Smythe, is a resident of Sanger, CA, and hadn’t had a reunion with his brothers in 49 years. Duane has a beach house at Los Mosas and we all spent two days and nights there. The tide was high with all the stories being told.

Duane would tell a story and look at us and say, “Do you remember that?”

Many times, I did, as I was his Squad Leader and Pontoon Sgt. during his tour. Duane would get a surprised look on his face and say, “You do?” He hadn’t had a sounding board to bounce his stories off of for 49 years. Leonard Bertuli was his Squad Leader when Duane was wounded in Jan. 1969. He remembered a lot of Duane’s stories.

It was a great week together and sure means a lot to me to get back together with the men we served with and see how their lives have been and how they are doing after all this time. We are all getting some age on us and it is a reassuring feeling when someone remembers and says things that you or they were involved in years ago in a tough situation. It brings back some stuff that may keep you up at night, but its part of our journey and when you meet these guys, a hand shake and a hug and 49 years are gone. It was a miracle that we could all be together after all these years.

TOGETHER AGAIN – Jim Compton, Len Bertuli, Gary Vickers and Duane Smythe in California for first reunion of their unit in 49 years.