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Marines reunited after 63 years

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Two battle buddies were reunited after being apart for 63 years.

Their story is shared{}in the book 'Grown Gray in War', a{}novel written by Marine Veteran, Len Maffioli. Many of those experiences were shared with Ted Wheeler right by Len's side.

The two first met at Camp Pendleton in California with the 4th Marine division in December 1943. They endured boot camp together and both drove trucks in World War II. {}

In 1950, both were part of reserve units in different parts of the country that eventually led to their service in the Korean War.

While there, Len and Ted were part of a large convoy to move a{}command post only{}10 miles. Len said the convoy was caught by 10,000 enemy troops hiding in a ditch. He said the convoy fell under fire, 160 were wounded and 40 were killed. Len was taken prisoner. While a P.O.W Len ran into{}a familiar face.

"We ended up together again, we were in World War II, we met aboard ship and now we're captured in this convoy," said Len.

"It just goes on and on," said Ted.

For the next six months, 18 marines including Len and Ted were held prisoner. One day,{}Len said artillery started firing in{}their direction. The threat scared off the guards while the U.S. Marines laid out indicators for airmen to find them. The plan worked. Three tanks rescued every{}Marines.

"It turned out to be the only successful group escape ever made from the North Koreans or the Chinese, and we{}were all Marines," said Len.

Fast forward to 1995, Len published his story. Len said the Korean P.O.W Association told him Ted Wheeler had died. One of Ted's grandchildren saw their grandfather's name in Len's book. That triggered Ted to call Len.

"I almost dropped the phone! I said I can't believe it. They told me you were dead," said Len.

The two reunited in Benton this week after 63 years of being apart.

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