ONTARIO (CBSLA.com) — Four Vietnam veterans reunited in Ontario Thursday almost 45 years after a bomb nearly killed one of them.
“I didn’t even know if these guys were alive,” said Mike Gude.READ MORE: Report: Orange County Hate Crimes Against Asian-Americans Up 1,200%
Gude told CBS2’s Tom Wait that he has seen the faces of his fellow soldiers in his dreams for nearly 45 years — he wasn’t even sure they survived.
“Two of them saved my life,” Gude said.
Gude is talking about his four-member recon unit. In 1969, Gude was with the group in a Vietnamese jungle gathering enemy intel. The recon unit realized the area was booby-trapped. But it was too late — Gude set off a mine, which tore apart his leg.
“I heard this big blast – the blast is not sharp. I saw a big black cloud. I thought I fell in a hole,” Gude said.
By some miracle, his brothers in arms would save him – but Gude would never see them again after his rescue from the jungle.READ MORE: OC Receives More Than 83,000 COVID-19 Vaccine Doses In Single Day
Today that changed. After more than four decades, an online message board would link the four together. At Ontario airport this afternoon the brave men from the 173rd Airborne would reunite for the first time.
Tom Wait was there and said through many tears and much laughter, “this was their moment.”
Michael Gude, Howard Hunt, Grady Fox and Bob Bodemann — together again.
The four have been through a lot since they last saw each other. Today’s reunion is another step forward in coming to terms with what they saw in war.
For Mike Gude who is fighting illness, this is a chapter he needed to close.MORE NEWS: Santa Ana Winds Expected To Diminish By Thursday Evening
“My life is complete so if it ends today, I had a beautiful life,” said Gude.