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Lead Summary

It's true. The past 55 years just whizzed by.
Some say I am older than dirt. Others, including my only daughter, have urged me never to say I am getting old.
What does it mean to be getting old anyway? It means that one is eligible for Social Security and one might be rallying around visits to the medical clinic as a means of social activity.
Getting old also means that you have a desire to reflect on something that happened years ago.
My reflections have come in the form of trying to link up with an old Army buddy named Ed.
My research started a couple of years ago when I met Judy Wambeam, head of the quilting group at Red Oak Grove Lutheran Church. After taking her photo with a homemade quilt, I asked Judy her name and where she was from.
Judy the quilter said she grew up around St. Ansgar, Iowa. The light bulb got brighter as I asked her if she knew Ed Vervaecke (pronounced VER-VIK). "Yes, he was in my high school graduating class," she answered. "We have a high school reunion this weekend, and I will ask him if he remembers you."
The rest is history. Ed called me and we had a nice visit on the telephone. Two years passed and we still had not crossed paths since our U.S. Army days.
After my wife Judy made connections after 20-plus years with an old friend, I decided to make more of an effort to connect with Private Ed.
I called Ed and we agreed to meet on a sunny day in July. Judy encouraged me to remind Ed of our meeting planned for this July date. I was somewhat hesitant, thinking he might cancel if I called him. His wife answered the phone and I could hear Ed saying in the background that "everything was OK."
I must admit that I had some butterflies as I approached our meeting place at a pizza place in Austin. What would Ed look like? When we were together on active duty, many said we looked like twins.
As I scanned the restaurant for a single person, I remembered Ed telling me that he would be the bald person at a table by himself.
OK, there's a bald person by himself. "Are you Ed?" I asked him. Giving me a quizzical look, he said, "no."
I then looked further into the restaurant and spotted a smiling, bald guy watching me make a fool out of myself. Yes, we connected.
The reunion then began as we related our family matters and then began to reminisce about our Army days. We both enlisted in the Army National Guard in November of 1965 in Rochester. We were part of a headquarters company.
Ed said he and his wife Janice have three children and six grandchildren. I related to him that Judy and I have two children and three grandchildren.
Ed farmed near St. Ansgar during the past many years.
We then started recalling fond memories of our six months of Army life at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. We weren't in the same platoon for Basic Training but reunited when we served our active duty time.
Here are some of our memories:
            • We were part of a Special Troops company.
            • We had good food, ate on china dishes and chose SOS (S--- on a Shingle.
            • The two of us attached ourselves to two Easterners
            • Ed and I worked at an out-processing point. This was a happy place for the Army recruits who were on their way out on a discharge.
            • Ed and I partied with some of our Army friends and with some civilians with whom we worked. One of our  Army friends was named George Washington III.
            • Since I had a car on the post, I commandeered my 1962 Ford Galaxie XL with four of my friends to a relaxing resort in the Ozarks on a long weekend. It was just great to get away from Army life, Ed and I agreed.
There were many more times to reflect upon, but after 55 years, we remained BFF (Best Friends Forever). The years apart put some age marks on both of us but we didn't forget, we remembered.

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