50-year reunion

Mukwonago, WI

I was in the Army Corps of Engineers from 1964 to 1967. After my first 16 weeks of training, I was assigned to Camp Eiler 76 Eng. Battalion Construction in Korea. I was assigned a bulldozer alongside another new guy, John Washburn, who I later found out was from the neighboring state of Minnesota (I’m from Wisconsin). We were in the same barracks and became best friends. We were on the same jobs together and spent a lot of time in the NCO club or in town. Thirteen months passed and we both were assigned back to Ft. Leonard Wood. John left three days before me. John was at a combat engineer group and I changed my MOS to equipment repair due to lack of assignments for bulldozer operators. Our barracks were close, so we still were in contact with each other. John left the service a week before me but we said we would try to stay in touch. As years went by, I often said to myself I should try to contact John, but work and family kept me from doing so. In 2017, 50 years after leaving the service, I decided I would try to reconnect with him. I searched his name and town and found a phone number. I called immediately and asked if he was the John from 76 Eng. In Korea, and he said yes. Then I asked if he remembered his friend Pat Barwick. He said yes, with excitement. He was shocked and asked how I got his phone number and I explained, being from a very small town there can only be one John Washburn. We talked for about two hours and I asked him if he and his wife would like to get together to reminisce. With enthusiasm he agreed. We met at a riverfront restaurant. My wife and I were seated at a table when John and his wife came in and were looking for us. He finally pointed and asked if it was me. After 50 years we did not look the same as we did in the Army; John with gray hair and a beard, me with a bald head and 4 inch moustache. We introduced our wives and got caught up on our lives while we looked at our pictures from Korea. It was four hours of outstanding old times. Being eligible to go on the Wisconsin Honor Flight, I set up three close friends and asked John to join us. The five of us were in process to be assigned, until COVID-19 halted everything. We recently got together again at my cabin. We had a great dinner and tried to remember others from our company and reminisce about the past. Fifty years separated us, but we have renewed our friendship and will keep in contact for the duration of our time. God bless the USA and good friends.

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