Vietnam War veterans from Colorado reunite after 42 years

Robert and Jeff are now looking for other guys who served on their ship for a larger reunion down the road.

FORT COLLINS, COLO. - The veteran get-togethers you see on the news tend to be large affairs. But a Tuesday meeting in Fort Collins was the smallest of reunions.

It's been 42 years since a Vietnam veteran, from Fort Collins, named Robert Hildebrand saw his fellow vet and one of his closest friends during the war, Jeff Wicks.

They both served for a few years aboard the USS Constellation working on the flight deck. Their jobs were to launch fighter planes off the deck.

Hildebrand was discharged in 1975 and said he never had any contact with any of his shipmates -- until reconnecting with Wicks.

Though decades have passed, time seemed to stand still this morning during their first face-to-face meeting.

"It's like going back in time," Wicks said.

The two veterans reunited online through the website navybuddies.com.

"I heard about the website and I joined it," Hildebrand said. "I saw Jeff on there and I e-mailed him.

"Bog got a hold of me and I was like, 'Wow, OK,'" Wicks said with a huge smile spread across his face.

When Hildebrand learned Wicks was going to be only a couple of hours away in Colorado Springs, he had to invite him to his home. Wicks accepted after getting "goosebumps the size of marbles."

Both guys reminisced about things you probably wouldn't want to talk about with a TV camera present. They talked about their military initiations, the dangers of war, the clubs they went to and staying in touch.

Both Hildebrand and Wicks vowed to never lose contact with each other again. They're now also looking for more people who served aboard the same ship to have a much larger reunion down the road.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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