VAN WERT, Ohio (WANE) – After 50 years 5 men from Van Wert who enlisted in the Navy together caught up.

50 years is a long time. Especially a long time to not see your friends.

At Legion Post 178 in Van Wert Ohio on Thursday, 5 men were in the same room for the first time since 1996. Or almost in the same room as one veteran had to virtually attend.

News paper clipping from 6/20/1966 of the six men from Van Wert who all enlisted together. (One member was unable to attend todays gathering.)

Lynn Jackson (who virtually attended), David Richard Frederick, William Albright, and Steven Gehres all left Van Wert together to the Great Lakes Naval Station together to join the Navy.

And then after basic training everyone split off.

“It’s sort of confusing and amazing, everybody has changed so much.”

Richard Frederick

Richard Frederick was in Alaska on a ship for a year before touring the world, crossing the equator three times serving in Vietnam, Perth, Singapore, Bangladesh, Around the Horn of Africa, Senegal and countless other places.

Steven Gehres made mines for combat stateside before heading over to a hospital in Scotland.

David Kreischer was aboard the USS Forrestal, an aircraft carrier that suffered a major fire while outside Vietnam. He recounted the hardship of serving as over 100 men died during the disaster.

William Albright said he worked on sonar, the “eyes of the ship,” aboard the Alexander Hamilton. He expressed his regret for not seeing his fellow Ohioans sooner.

“50 years, I’ve never seen them. First time, that is terrible. I didn’t even recognize them.”

William Albright

Since then they have all lived full lives, many getting married, starting families, and even becoming mayor.

“Then I got back back… practiced law for a long time in the city on Van Wert, and then I became mayor for four years… It was good to work for the citizens of Van Wert.

Steven Gehres

Gehres also notes that he cracked down on some trouble makers when he was in office, on account of knowing all their tactics from when he was a kid.

All in all at the end of the day the men had smiles as wide as the deck of a frigate, and stories as colorful as the flag those ships boasted.