Two Texans who served their country together have reunited after more than 50 years apart.
Delbert Johnson of Conroe, near Houston, and David Anderson of Navarro County both grew up in small Texas towns.
“Two guys who had never traveled much out of town,” said Johnson.
They first met in their late teens during basic training at Fort Hood in 1966. Johnson was drafted with several other men from his town but never went through service with any of them. Anderson was the only person he stayed with through to the finish.
“We went through basic training together and all of the different other trainings that the Army put the new recruits through at that time,” said Anderson. “Then we went to Vietnam together, we were assigned to the same battalion, the same company and the same squad.”
A powerful friendship formed as they both fought to survive.
“During this time our friendship strengthened. We were both just trying to survive,” said Johnson. “I would describe David during this time as funny with an incredible laugh but also quiet. He seemed to just sit back and take everything in."
Both men eventually made it back home to Texas. However, they lost touch over the years.
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“Some years back, I started wondering whatever happened to some of the guys I served with in the Army. For some reason, I don’t know exactly why but the memory of Delbert stuck with me more than most,” said Anderson.
Once the age of computers began, Anderson said his kids helped him get in touch with Johnson. They made intentions to meet up, but life got in the way.
“I kind of got busy living and raising kids. Fast forward some twenty plus years and for reasons I don’t know why, Delbert got on my mind again. It has now been better than 52 years since I had seen Delbert,” said Anderson.
Both Johnson and Anderson said they thought often of their friendship and experience in the war together. All of these years, they lived hours apart, with Anderson in Duncanville and Johnson in Conroe.
“I thought I’d better try to see this guy before we’re done,” joked Anderson.
Now in their 70s and with a pandemic presenting another year of uncertainty, the men said they couldn’t wait any longer. They decided to reunite – masks and all – over a steak dinner with their wives this past week.
“I don’t know how to adequately describe that feeling, seeing him after more than 52 years and remembering some of our shared experiences we had. I can tell you I enjoyed the heck out of it,” said Anderson.
The men spent several hours talking about their families and their time together.
“I am 74 years old and I can't remember when I have been so excited about anything. I felt like a kid, all smiles and butterflies in my stomach,” said Johnson. “It was great to have someone to talk to about your time in the military that truly understood your thoughts and feelings because he was right by your side through it all,” said Johnson.
A special thank you to the Johnson and Anderson families for sharing this story and photos with us.
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