Vietnam War veterans reunite in SWFL 51 years later

Two Vietnam veterans, who forged a bond as they fought side-by-side, reunited in Southwest Florida. It’s been 51 years, and their camaraderie remains strong. They invited us to join them during their week-long reunion.

After 36 hours together in Vietnam, Lenny Reguseo and Harry Apolito were wounded and waiting in a foxhole for a medical helicopter to get them.

“We were in the foxhole together when we got wounded,” Reguseo said. “And I didn’t see him for 51 years.”

Apolito recalled how it all went down more than five decades ago.

“Lenny says, ‘I hear movement out there; I see movement out there’” Apolito said. “So we saw it again, and the machine gunner next to me said, ‘I’m going to open up,’ so he opened up the machine gun, and it all broke loose. They had us surrounded. They went off the hill and came back.”

Battling for freedom and their lives, Apolito returned home to his wife after being hit in the stomach from the attack. Reguseo got patched up from his wounds and returned out on the front lines. Years went on; the war ended; but the pair never forgot about each other.

Reguseo’s wife looked up Apolito’s phone number. And a long overdue phone call was made. And a long-lost comrade answered on the other end.

“He said, ‘I haven’t spoken with you in 51 years. This is Lenny Reguseo,’” Apolito recalled. “I said, ‘Oh, my God.’ I turned white; I couldn’t believe it.”

The two Purple Heart recipients met up for the first time in half a century and received a proper welcome home from Apolito’s neighbors.

“We got through it,” Apolito said. “Thank God we’re doing fine.”

Reguseo and Apolito plan to keep in touch and return to spend time together in Southwest Florida.

“I remembered to say, ‘Don’t start crying because I’m crying already,’” Reguseo said. “And we were just so happy to see each other. And like Harry kept saying, ‘And we made it; we made it. We’re here.’”

Reporter:Jerrica Valtierra
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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