There was not a dry eye in the house on this former soldier’s birthday, as he was given a surprise reunion with two other Vietnam veterans who had presumed he had died in combat more than 50 years ago.
Jim Mattis and Ivis Sloane had not seen their friend, Tony Solis, since the trio served in Vietnam in the same unit.
Tony, who was celebrating his 76 birthday, was severely injured on the battlefield, and after Ivis had found him and loaded him into a helicopter, he and Jim never heard from Tony again, presuming he had died ont he battlefield in Vietnam.
Fast forward to a few years ago, and Jim, 75, and Ivis, 76, were able to connect through social media, pondering between themselves about what ever happened to their friend.
The pair were able to discover that Tony was, in fact, still alive, and having contacted his family secretly, Jim and Ivis thought it was only right that they surprise him on his birthday.
With the help of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, Jim and Ivis were able to arrive at the Caldwell, Idaho, event in style, being escorted by a large number of bikers, while appreciative civilians lined the streets.
The pair’s gesture brought Tony to tears, and speaking afterwards, he explained that he had lived with the guilt of having to leave his fellow soldiers behind.
The moment was captured by a local production company, Two Wolves Media, on July 27, 2019.
Reed Pacheco, head of Two Wolves Media, said: “I was completely overwhelmed with emotion, watching these three men that didn’t know if the others made it home.
“So, seeing these men meet was a tearful experience.
“They all lived with regret, sadness and questions that they couldn’t answer.
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“In this time of social media, we are blessed like never before.
“In the times of such negativity there is good if we just open our eyes.
“These men used social media to reconnect with someone they thought they had lost.
“They found out they didn’t have to carry those burdens after all.
“They realized the impact and value of what they had over 50 years ago, and it stilled remained today.
“There were absolute tears of joy running this day because many hearts were filled, that so much life was lived in regret and sadness only to find them again.”
(Story courtesy of T&T Creative Media)