Tom Stratos joined the Army in 1943 and was discharged on April 18, 1946. Though he immediately signed up for the active reserves, with his final discharge in 1952, April 18 was the date he would leave his friend Ethel Turlis - seemingly forever.
Stratos was the son of Greek immigrants, and Tacoma, Wash., near where he'd been stationed at Fort Lewis, boasted a large Greek community. A family friend from boyhood, his friendship with Ethel had grown during his time in service.
But time went on. He married his wife Helen and had a family. After his military career, he started a business in downtown Los Angeles. It was many years later, after his wife passed away, that a friend - Ethel's brother - reached out to him. Ethel (now Tschida) had cancer.
Stratos was a cancer survivor, and decided to reach out to offer his old friend moral support after 60 years on April 18.
"Phone calls, letters and the memories and memories that we had - it just opened up the gates of friendship over all these years," Stratos said. "Sometimes when you meet somebody and they make an impression, I don’t care how many years go by."
Stratos is a member of Leonidas Post 285 in California.