Reunion brings hugs, salutes

Three of five Wynnewood friends, shown enlisting together in the Marines more than 60 years ago, recently had their own reunion. Shown from left are Jim Antuna, Foye “Frosty” Cash, Jerry Dale Kinard, Darold Leo Schafer and Henry Whitaker.

Five good buddies growing up in Wynnewood did something they never expected to do – join the Marines together right out of high school.

That was more than 60 years ago as the good friends since childhood held their own little reunion to catch up and recall all those memories from the past.

With all five still living in Oklahoma, two of them in their hometown, the plan was for the entire group to reunite one more time for a casual lunch at a Wynnewood restaurant.

The idea came from one of those old friends, Rev. Darold Leo Schafer, who thought it was a good idea while they still had time.

Along with Schafer, the circle of friends are Henry Whitaker, Foye “Frosty” Cash, Jim Antuna and Jerry Dale Kinard.

Schafer and his wife Beverly Sue were joined by Whitaker and Cash for a get-together held a weekend ago.

The five were all good friends in their early years growing up in Wynnewood.

“Henry and I lived across the street from each other. Jim lived right down by the police station. Cash lived down the street from Jim by the refinery,” Schafer says.

“A couple of us haven't talked in 20 years. I thought before much more happens we had better get together. We're all going to be 80 this year or next year. The Holy Spirit told me to do it.

“I want to give them all a hug, see their wives, tell them all my story,” he said just days before the reunion.

“It was just time to see each other.”

The five were also together when they graduated from Wynnewood High School back in 1958. A few weeks after getting their diplomas they again came together to join the U.S. Marines at the same time.

For Schafer it started when one day shortly after graduation he saw Antuna.

“Jim stopped me and said we're all going to join the Marines and asked if I wanted to come along. I didn't have any plans for life so I said sure. There the five of us were.

“A couple of days later we took the bus to Oklahoma City to sign up for the Marines. A week or so later we flew to San Diego together.”

It didn't take long for the five friends to begin wondering about their decision to join up.

“A 2:30 (in the morning) we knew we had done the wrong thing, that we were in the wrong place. We were asking ourselves what are we doing here, but I am proud of the Marine Corp,” Schafer says.

His third week into boot camp Schafer was injured, which led to a hospital stay and his departure from his four friends.

From there he served in such places as Okinawa and the Philippines and even Vietnam before anyone knew about the conflict to come.

“Vietnam was starting but no one knew it,” Schafer said, adding he operated a post office on a helicopter landing ship.

“We'd be in Vietnam with a couple of gunships and I would wake up the next morning and there would be all kinds of other ships around us. We had guns but we couldn't shoot them.”

As it turns out all five wound up serving at least four years before returning to civilian life.

Cash did go the longest serving six years before later joining the reserves where he even served in Desert Storm back in the '90s.

As for the reunion on Oct. 19 with three of the five able to attend, Schafer says it was a “nice” time as the plan to get all of them together at once is still in the works.

“We shared stories of what happened to each of us. We've got to get all five together now.”

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