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Somewhere in the middle of a Florida beach this weekend, four Marine veterans huddled together around a standing yellow longboard and gazed into the camera.

To anyone passing by, it probably seemed like any other old photograph.

But for these Vietnam War vets, it was an unforgettable reunion – and a chance to recreate a moment they’d shared about 50 years ago.

“It's a really funny picture," one said. “But one with a lot of heart behind it.”

The Naples Daily News described the captivating scene:

“Bob Falk, 71, wearing a mirror-image blue-and-white striped shirt, leaned against the longboard's left side, resting his spare hand on his hip.

Dennis Puleo, 69, removed his shoes, revealing the feet scarred by shrapnel, and pulled off his shirt, flanking the longboard on the right, mugging a wide smile for the camera with his arms extended.

Tom Hanks (not that one), 69, stepped in front of the board and took in a long, deep breath, flexing his still-thick upper chest and sucking in his now-paunchy belly.

Finally, Bob DeVenezia, 70, crouched down in front of Hanks, resting his elbows on his knobby knees, feeling Hanks' hands placed on his back.”

The four trained together as part of the same weapons platoon at California’s Camp Pendleton in 1966, they told the paper.

Once deployed to Vietnam, they were split up. Three served as machine gunners and one as an anti-tank man. Two earned Purple Hearts.

“We just broke up. Life is funny like that,” DeVenezia said.

But after reuniting, Puleo said, “We all know that we've been given a gift of 50 years.”

Read more, here.


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