3 Marines reunite in Nashville 50 years after Vietnam War

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The 1960s were a tumultuous time in our country and around the world. But in that time, in Vietnam, a friendship was born among three marines.

And even today, their bond is as strong as it ever was.

Tim McKinney, Doug Mullican, and Frank Haak recently reunited in Nashville—a reunion that took 50 years.

(Photo: WKRN)
L to R: Frank Haak, Doug Mullican, Tim McKinney (Photo: WKRN)

The three men have six Purple Hearts between them, and they took us back to a time when they were 19 and thrown into the Vietnamese jungle.

Each picture tells a story like a front-row seat in a memory—and these memories of war can invoke anguish, sometimes terror.

PHOTOS: Marines reunite after 50 years

“We were so thirsty; we put mud in our mouths just to get water,” Haak told News 2 while showing us a photo of a marine dipping a bottle in a puddle of mud.

They recalled a night they spent inside their bunker taking on rocket fire.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

“It was the first night I realized it was a serious thing– we could actually lose our lives,” McKinney told News 2.

“That was the night my life changed, changed drastically,” added Mullican.

“When that artillery started coming in, I saw how panicked the old, experienced people were, and I knew we were in for something big,” Haak told News 2.

“I’m relying on these two to keep me alive, and they’re relying on me,” McKinney added.

In that bunker, these marines, three teenagers, formed a lifetime bond.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

“There’s nobody that really knows outside of us three what we went through,” McKinney said.

Now, ages 69 and 70, the veterans spent a week together touring Nashville and other parts of Tennessee.

Like old friends do, they got to telling stories and laughing. Their memories are as photographic as their 50-year-old prints.

Today, they’re a bit older and a lot wiser, but back then they were young and impressionable—and maybe not fearless, but full of courage and commitment.

“When you get in that situation, you’ve got to create that bond that you’ve got to take care of the person that’s with you. That’s basically what we tried to do,” Haak told News 2.

The marines’ reunion was made possible by Circle M. Therapeutic Farms in Portland, Tennessee.