Vietnam Veterans remember worst and best of times

Three Vietnam Vets sit around a table in Myrtle Beach Thursday remembering the good and bad times/Ryan Naquin

Not much brings people together more than tragedy.

Huddled around a table in a Myrtle Beach hotel room, three men sit sharing stories from the event that brought them together.

Jake Jacobson, Ike Eisenhauer and Kris Tourtelette served in the Army's 25th Infantry during the Vietnam War.

While bringing up the memories of that time is difficult, learning to survive and laugh about them today is what keeps their spirits high.

"You remember how to clear an M16?" asked Jacobson. "Well, I did it backwards."

"When I tell people I was Military Intelligence, they go that's an oxymoron," said Tourtelette.

This was the first time these friends who were forged on the battlefield have shared stories in more than ten years, reminiscing about the days that brought them joy, even during the worst of times.

"I remember being on top of that mountain with a purple smoke grenade singing "Purple Haze"," said Eisenhauer to an eruption of laughter.

But while the laughs come often, the pain of friends lost at war is recollected from time to time when looking through photos.

"He got killed," said Jacobson. "They got ambushed. He's like the 3rd or 4th name on the wall over there."

Thumbing through old photos also means remembering the countless others they have outlived.

"He got in a truck accident and died. I thought, isn't that something. Survives Vietnam, survives brain cancer, and dies in a truck accident."

But one thing they remember most is how they were treated when they came home from those days of war.

"We never got our parade," said Jacobson. His parade came a year ago when motorcyclists stopped traffic so the veteran could drive through traffic, he said.

Though a welcome home parade has never come, they believe that a new generation has brought a new sentiment toward Vietnam Veterans.

"I was at a stoplight, and this women is constantly honking at me. I thought, oh here we go," said Tourtelette. "But she goes, 'thank you so much for your service. That's all I wanted to tell you' and took off. I said okay, the world is now changing."