Before heading off to fight in the Vietnam War, four friends posed together on the beach, surrounded by waves and holding onto a giant surfboard. The men were all sent to Vietnam not long after the photograph was taken, fighting against communism as Marines in a war that was marked by controversy.
During the 1960s, many Americans strongly disagreed with the decision to send so many young troops overseas to a distant land in order to halt communism from spreading. In addition to the conflict raging in Vietnam, a conflict at home also raged between those who agreed with the politics behind the war and those who did not. The thousands of young people who were sent to Vietnam, many of them in answer to the draft, were often caught in the crosshairs of the battle at home when they returned from conflict. Some people in the U.S. shamefully blamed the troops who fought so valiantly, answering the government’s call.
The four friends, Bob DeVenezia, Bob Falk, Tom Hanks and Dennis Puleo, all proudly served as Marines, often being placed in the position of protecting each others’ lives. Two of the men survived injuries they suffered during the war while the remaining two escaped unscathed. Upon returning home, the four men lost touch with each other, going their separate ways.
After 46 years had passed, the four found each other again. Three of the men were living in Florida while the fourth was living in Georgia. The men decided to meet once again, researching the beach where they had taken the original photo so they could pinpoint the exact location.
Fifty years after taking the original, happy photo before heading to the violence of war, the four friends met again on the same beach and at the exact location. They posed together once again, holding a giant surfboard and smiling. No matter the distance time, families, marriages and life may have brought, nothing could erase the deep friendship these men forged with each other decades ago as they fought side-by-side for their country. Now elderly, the four recall the struggle of those times while remembering the 58,000 soldiers who lost their lives for their country.