Belle Army veteran reunited with buddies after 49 years

A Belle Army veteran Friday was reunited with friends after several years.

Three army buddies were reunited Friday after having not seen each other for nearly half a century.

Belle resident Ken Butler hadn't seen his army buddies in 49 years, after they served together in Germany during the Vietnam war. He always wondered what happened to them after he and the other men in their unit were discharged. On Friday, the men got to see each other for the first time since they served together in the Army.

The three men live in different parts of the country, but two of them arrived in Belle late Thursday night to meet at Butler's house. "I never believed that I'd be here, and I still don't believe that I'm here.." said Army Veteran Daniel Opaska, who served with Butler along with Butler and Donald Donnelly, who was also there.

The three men looked a little bit different the last time they saw each other. They were part of the Army's 81st Artillery between 1965 and 1967. His unit was unique - they got to test fire a nuclear missle with dummy warheads.

That is something that most soldiers who serve in the Armed Forces never get to see.

One day about a year ago, Ken was hunting with his wife when he said to her how nice it would bee to see his army buddies once again. His wife took him seriously, and the two began scouring the internet for the names of his men.

After a short time, their search came to fruition when they established contact with three of the men from his unit. One was too sick to make it to Missouri, but Ken and the other two set a date for them to come to Missouri. "Makes me feel real good, I almost near cried... Didn't think I would ever get to see them again," Butler said.

The three spent most of the day touring Ken's cattle farm, catching up on times past. While it took decades to bring these soldiers back together, the men and their families plan to remain a part of each others' lives for years to come.