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Retired Second Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment Marines Roger McDowell, George Fender, Jim Meyers, Mike Fein and Mike Wheeler served together in Vietnam. They met again at the National Museum of the Marine Corps on Oct. 1-2.

Photo by John Hollis

Vietnam vets reunite at National Museum of the Marine Corps

10 Oct 2014 | John Hollis

The five retired Marines from the 2nd Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment who reunited at the National Museum of the Marine Corps on Oct. 1 made the most of their time together again, reminiscing about their time together in Southeast Asia as a band of brothers.

 

Hailing from various parts of the country, Jim Meyers, Roger McDowell, Mike Wheeler, George Fender and Mike Fein were quickly deep in nostalgia as they made their way through the NMMC after taking in lunch at Tun Tavern. The visit was the first at the museum for several of the aging warriors. The occasion was even more momentous for Fender and Wheeler, neither of whom had seen their former comrades-in-arms since the Vietnam War.

 

“There’s a bond that civilians wouldn’t understand,” said Fein, 67, a former corporal now living in Marietta, Ohio. “A brotherhood.”

 

Meyers, a former second lieutenant and retired businessman from Cincinnati, who went on to serve in the U.S. Secret Service after leaving the Marine Corps, echoed similar thoughts, saying that it mattered not that he was the only officer of the group.

 

He welcomed the opportunity to again be among his brothers at the museum in their honor and the therapy they provide to one another.

 

“This is coming home,” Meyers said. “This is our museum.”

 

The five men first met during their overlapping tours of duty, with all of them joining Headquarters and Service Battalion either in late 1966 or early 1967. By the time they had all rotated home, they had seen extensive action in operations such as Union I, Union II, and Tuscaloosa, as well as in the vicious door-to-door combat at Hue City. Fein survived the 77-day siege of Khe Sahn before returning home.

 

The idea to meet up again at Quantico began several months ago and quickly gathered steam. Fender, a 68-year-old former corporal now living in Somerset, New Jersey, was serving in Hue City when he boarded a helicopter to head home and hadn’t seen any of the fellow Marines with whom he served until coming to Quantico.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Fender, who currently keeps himself busy by customizing fine cars. “I feel like I’m dreaming.”

 

The same held true for Wheeler, 67, a former corporal now working as a Magnolia, Deleware-based project manager for Craft Foods. In fact, Wheeler’s employers were so excited about his reuniting with his former Marines that he was allowed a paid day off to attend.

 

McDowell, 67, now working as a part-time sales representative in Hurricane, West Virginia, was wounded in April 1967 when the transport in which was riding was hit by a roadside bomb. Then a sergeant, he suffered extensive hearing loss, but passed on the opportunity to go home because the welfare of his fellow Marines was more important to him.

 

Not even the passage of time could diminish that. As an added bonus, the next day they randomly ran into 40 Marines from Golf Company who served with them at Hoa in 1967.

 

 “It’s been enjoyable,” McDowell said of seeing his friends again, “especially after as many years as it’s been.”

The retired Marines plan to meet again in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, next year.