Commonwealth Journal

Features

June 27, 2013

A Grand Reunion

Four local Vietnam Vets meet for the first time in over four decades

Somerset —

Three former members of the U.S. Marine Corps and buddies in Vietnam met Tuesday morning for the first time in 45 years in the parking lot at Cracker Barrel restaurant.
“Bear” is the big one. His name is Larry Cain. He lives near Yosemite in Casey County.
“Slick,” a/k/a Otis Byers, was born and reared in Albany but now lives in Park City near Mammoth Cave.
“We just have one stop light,” he grinned.
“Scratch” is Jay Adams, owner of Adams Grocery at Ano in eastern Pulaski County. “Scratch” got his nickname because his buddies say he was always scratching. Adams Grocery is best known for photographs of trophy rattlesnakes killed at nearby Rattlesnake Crossing.
The former Marines have lived within 65 to 75 miles of each other for the past 45 years without being aware of it.
“We were like brothers over there ... if one of us had a dime all of us had a few pennies,” Cain related.
Nancy resident Bob Bryant, a friend of “Bear” from their days working at Sun Chemical in Cincinnati after the war, informed the Commonwealth Journal the three Marine buddies would gather at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Cracker Barrel in Somerset. A reporter got there moments after the reunion began.
It was a glorious time! Slapping each other on the back. Telling jokes. Laughing. Remembering old times.
Leaning against a pickup in the restaurant parking lot, the three old Marines could well have been in a barracks. They seemed totally oblivious to their surroundings. 
Despite the hilarity of the moment, it was a time for reflection. Their minds would wander back to the jungles of Vietnam. You could see it in their faces. Their conversations were sprinkled with DeNang, Hue, Saigon and the Viet Cong. They’ve been there, done that.
The Vietnam War was a prolonged struggle between nationalist forces attempting to unify the country of Vietnam under a communist government and the United States (with the aid of the South Vietnamese) attempting to prevent the spread of communism.

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