Ed Long and Rick Miller are Vietnam veterans with a special bond. On Aug. 4, 1970, in the thick of combat in a hellish war, 19-year-old Pfc. Ed Long, drafted right out of Suitland High School, was wounded in a firefight.
“Rick Miller jumped out of the helicopter under fire with RPG’s and mortars hitting us, grabbed me, threw me through the doorway of the helicopter,” Long says.
Then the Army specialist and helicopter gunner went right back into the hail of gunfire and rescued two more men.
“I want to say thank you for my life, that’s for sure,” Long says to Miller.
“I’m [was] just doing what I was supposed to do,” says Miller. “West Texas cowboy!”
One of the three he pulled to safety, Sgt. Paul Johnson, died of his wounds, but he didn’t die alone.
His family, along with Miller, gathered at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Monday to say thank you.
“I want to give you these flowers,” Trina Judson, Johnson’s niece, says to Miller. “I brought you an angel doll to always guide you and protect you."
Judson says Miller carried her uncle to the helicopter and held his arms the entire ride. Knowing her uncle wasn’t alone when he died gives Judson’s family a peace of mind.
“My family will always, always be grateful to him and we can never repay him for what he did,” she says.
It took 43 years for the Texas veteran to meet the two families, but their friendship and gratitude will last forever.
“It’s a bond that’s unbreakable,” says Miller. “You just can’t imagine the bond we have that you would go to Hell and back for your buddy.”