The Korean War brought the group of friends together, but during their monthly breakfast together, the veterans prefer to discuss other things.
â€œWe talk about how weâ€™d like to be back 20-years-old again,â€ said Jack Hull, a veteran.
They also discuss whoâ€™s been sick, who has the biggest tomatoes, and the rabbits eating Dennis Mauneyâ€™s cabbage. On the walls surrounding their normal table at the Carolina Restaurant in Lincolnton are maps and war memorabilia.
â€œThis is a museum,â€ said Don Rash, a veteran.
The men have been meeting and chatting at the restaurant the first Thursday morning of every month for 10 years.
Their friendships, however, are much older â€“ dating back to 1950. Nearly all the men who meet were members of the A379 Combat Engineers.
â€œWhen they mobilized the guard, we just all got together and weâ€™ve been together ever since,â€ said Bill Holt, a veteran.
Most of the men spent around 15 months in Korea,
â€œI got to stay a little longer because I got a â€˜smartâ€™ mouth,â€ Holt said.
Only one hometown boy died during their time overseas, George Pope, but life was still dangerous, and the men saw their share of death.
â€œItâ€™s an experience that I hope nobody has to go through,â€ said Darias Spencer, a veteran. â€œItâ€™s just something you donâ€™t like to talk about.â€
There was violence, hot days and cold nights, but the men also cemented their life-long friendship during that time.
â€œYou just become brothers,â€ said Don Rash, a veteran.
When they meet on Thursday morning, the group listens to â€œGood Night Irene,â€ a song that brings them back to basic training. On special occasions, Hull will also sing â€œJesus Loves Meâ€ â€” in Korean.
All in all, itâ€™s a good way to spend a morning.
â€œI like to see these guys every once in a while,â€ said Bennie Hull, a veteran. â€œNot many of them left.â€
The tradition will continue as long as there are surviving members of the company. Currently, about 25 of the men still live in the area, with 12-to-15 coming to breakfast each month.
â€œSomeoneâ€™s got to bury the last one,â€ Holt said. â€œMight as well be me.â€
When theyâ€™re together, they refrain from discussing religion and politics too much, although they all agree on one thing.
â€œTell everybody to support their troops,â€ Holt said.
â€œIt ainâ€™t no fun over there, I tell you what.â€
by Sarah Grano