MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) -- In the late 1960s, two young men were drafted to serve in the Vietnam War, but little did they know, they'd meet again 50 years later.
It all started with a phone call from the wife of an ailing veteran entering hospice care.
When Theresa Nerison made a call looking for other vets to pay her husband, Loren Nerison, a Vietnam veteran a visit, she received more than she'd ever imagine: a young veteran looking to honor her husband, and another who had served right by his side.
“My whole life changed April 18th, Loren had lung cancer,” said Nerison.
“The doctor says, I think we better look into hospice, and I thought 'oh no, I can't see this,'” she adds. “I called the VA and I said, I need some help, I don't know what to do. Are there any veterans around that could come and help? At least talk to him.”
“For a lot of people, it's a pride thing, they don't want to ask for help,” says Josh Mock, a U.S. Army Veteran.
“Our department has a Facebook page, so I put a little blurb on there,” says Jessica Stark, a veteran specialist with Dunn County.
“A day later, Josh just called and that's where it all begun,” says Nerison.
“When I found out he had a Purple Heart, and it wasn't displayed, it was my mission to honor him with that,” says Mock. “We were able to present it to the family at the wake, and it was such an honor. It was pretty amazing.”
“Once they got connected,” says Stark. “I was talking to Terry. She was telling me some of Loren's stories and as I'm listening to her, I'm thinking, she kept using the word track,”
“Here's one of our tracks that got burnt up in Vietnam,” says Howard Hayden, looking at his book, “A Soldier’s Story: Tracks, Tunnels and the Tet Offensive.”
“I had another veteran in the back of my mind, his name was Howard, that I’ve read his book,” adds Stark.
“I said, "Terry, I know Loren has a Purple Heart, what was it for again? And I look over to Howard who was like, ‘I think that's him!’
“I thought he got shot twice and when I met him here 50 years later, he told me he only got shot once, and I didn't even know if he lived, and he only lived 20-30 miles from him for 20 some 30 years and I didn't know he was that close,” says Howard.
“I think pretty much any soldier that has served in combat has got a story to tell,” says Mock.
“It doesn't matter how old, how young or how much time has passed, they're still there for one another,” says Stark.
“It just seemed like it snowballed into 50 years after the war, I never dreamed it would end up like that,” Nerison.