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FIFTY YEARS LATER - From the left, Chuck Manning, Ted Harris, Randall Epps and Jimmy Mason. They were sworn into the U. S. Marines in June of 1966, serving in Vietnam. 

 

The 2016 Veterans Day Parade will be held Nov. 5 in Troy at 11 a.m. Come out to welcome home four Marines who served your country faithfully during the Vietnam War. They never received a proper welcome home like men had received coming home from other wars.

Come out and welcome these men home. Let's show them and other veterans we appreciate the sacrifices the made. 

Fifty years have passed since four friends, all from Troy, made a decision that would impact their lives forever. Ted Harris, Randall Epps, Jimmy Mason and Chuck Manning joined the U.S. Marine Corps on the Buddy Plan. Though their journeys would head down separate roads within months of active duty, their experiences changed them individually.

In June, they had lunch at Hometown BBQ and Seafood. It was the first time they had all been together as a group since the day they were separated 50 years ago.

All four men would end up in Vietnam during one of the most volatile times of the war. It had been slightly over 20 years since many of their relatives had returned from World War II to ticker-tape parades and joyous celebrations of their sacrifices made for the freedoms that are often taken for granted.

Last month, Epps stated with tears in is eyes, “I try not to get emotional when I talk about this, but I felt we never got a welcome home. It means so much to me now that the town of Troy is letting us be the grand marshals of the Veterans Day parade. It’s like the welcome home we did not get. I hate it’s 50 years later, but this is probably the greatest day of our lives, besides the day we had children, that Troy is honoring the four of us.”

It is time we give these brave men (and many other men and women) the welcome home they deserved 50 years ago.

In June of 1966, four friends from Montgomery County traveled to Raleigh to be sworn in as U.S. Marines. Four months later, they were on a bus headed to boot camp. Harris, Epps, Mason and Manning were 18 years old. Mason would get injured in boot camp and be delegated to an extra week of basic training, meaning he did not graduate with the others. He did catch up to them at Camp Lejune and they were together again at Camp Pendleton in California.

After a short time at Camp Pendleton, they received orders at different times to Vietnam. In Vietnam, they each had their own stories. 

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