Korean Struggle Vets Get pleasure from Reunion Virtually 70 Years within the Making

SCOTTBORO, Ala. (AP) — Lastly, Thomas Fagan was in for a shock go to from considered one of his finest buddies, Donald Goeppner. The 2 met whereas serving within the Marines through the Korean Struggle, and their reunion was 69 years within the making.

“It was like ‘lastly,’ we’re seeing one another in spite of everything these years. It’s an emotional occasion,” Goeppner mentioned. “It’s a great feeling …. I’m simply proud that we obtained collectively.”

The final time Thomas Fagan and Donald Goeppner noticed one another, they had been saying their goodbyes after serving in Korea in 1953. Regardless of signing as much as struggle the conflict, they needed to discover methods to attempt to get there.

Initially being skilled as riflemen, they had been despatched to Hawaii as guard Marines, a submit that neither man noticed match.

“We had been gung-ho Marines, we signed as much as struggle in Korea, not be guard Marines,” Goeppner mentioned.

Goeppner and Fagan hatched a plan: they stowed away on a service provider ship within the hopes that they might get to Korea and be stationed as soon as they arrived. After stowing away on the life boats for 3 days with no meals or water, they climbed on the boat, to which the retailers fed them, gave them some IV’s to rehydrate them and dropped them off at Yokosuka, Japan.

“After we obtained off the boat in Japan, these service provider marines that had been on the ship, all of them beloved us, they wished us gung-ho and every part,” Goeppner mentioned.

Fagan and Goeppner had been promptly thrown within the brig in Yokosuka earlier than being despatched again to Pearl Harbor and thrown within the brig for 10 extra days. After they obtained out, the colonel of the bottom gave them the order: they had been going again to Korea. From there, they served in Canine Firm, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines as riflemen.

“It was a hell gap however that’s what we needed, we had been ready for it,” Goeppner mentioned.

Regardless of dwelling in caves and enduring temperatures of 38 levels beneath zero, by the point their time within the conflict had ended, each males had been non-public top notch.

“We weren’t good for promotion, we had been gung-ho Marines however not what they referred to as spick and span,” Goeppner mentioned.

After getting out of the Marines, each males went again to their properties, Goeppner in Chicago, Fagan in New Jersey. Goeppner would work as a fireman in Chicago for 40 years and lift six kids whereas Fagan labored as a boilermaker and a bit of time as a bus driver for Greyhound, elevating 5 kids. When Fagan first obtained again dwelling, he discovered that he had gotten drafted to serve within the conflict he simply left.

“I needed to present them the paperwork that I used to be over there,” Fagan mentioned.

Now, 69 years later, the chance lastly introduced itself for the 2 veterans to see one another nose to nose for not less than another time. After delays, Goeppner and his son arrived from Chicago for a go to at Fagan’s home in Scottsboro lately.

When Fagan first noticed Goeppner, he didn’t acknowledge him till he spoke.

“There’s just one Goepp,” Fagan mentioned.

From there, each males hugged, sat down and began catching up with one another, having fun with having a dialog with out the necessity for a cellphone or a postcard.

“It made my coronary heart so glad as a result of he needed to see him for thus a few years now and it simply by no means occurred. For them to see one another, it’s my privilege and makes me so pleased for Tom that he obtained to see his marine corps buddy once more,” Rita Fagan mentioned.

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