Four Vietnam veteran friends reunite in Cedar Rapids after 49 years

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- From the struggles of Vietnam to the comforts of a hotel room. It's been 49 years since four soldiers have seen each other. It’s a reunion in eastern Iowa of friends from a lifetime ago.

Veterans Joe Rieke (from left), Andrew Moyer, Myron Schwarzrock, and Roger Gray served in Vietnam 49 years ago. They reunited in Cedar Rapids for the first time on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. (Chantelle Navarro/KCRG-TV9)

"It's really great to be together. I mean a lot of us have changed. We're not in our 20's anymore,” said Vietnam Veteran Andrew Moyer.

Moyer says, after reminiscing over old photos, he went on a whim to see how his long-lost companions were doing. After a few phone calls, four men from different platoons are reunited once again. But, it wasn't without a little bit of nerves.

"I was a little apprehensive at first, because 49 years, none of us look the same,” said Vietnam Veteran Joe Rieke.

"A couple days I was really high,” said Vietnam Veteran Myron Schwarzrock. “A couple days I was like, 'Well, I don't know. Maybe I won't even recognize these guys!' But everything turned out fine.”

They say it was their comradery that helped them get through some of the tougher times of war.

"In the evenings we just kind of talked about what we had done and let ourselves unwind and get ready for the next day,” said Schwarzrock. “We're truly a band of brothers."

"Talking about where you were from, your families. Anything you could do to kind of stay away from what was going on around you," said Rieke.

They all hope it doesn't take another 49 years to get back together again.

"If we can get more guys to come, it would be nice because we're not spring chickens anymore,” said Vietnam Veteran Roger Gray.

Friendships proven to last a lifetime.

"When you're in a bad situation, you make the best of it. We had to make our own fun and do what we had to do to get to where we are today," said Rieke.

The men all live in different states, from Vermont, to Minnesota but decided Cedar Rapids was a good “middle ground” to meet up.