World War II vets reunite after 72 years

KING

A reunion 72 years in the making started with a chance encounter at the magazine rack in a Michigan bookstore.

On Tuesday, it all came together with a simple salute at Paul Allen's Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum in Everett.

Commander Bob Turnell, 93, and Lt. Ray Owen, 95, came together in a rare reunion of two members of America's Greatest Generation.

"He looks great," said Owen.

"Well, I'm still alive," replied Turnell, pretending to check his pulse.

As young men, the two were stationed on the USS Wasp aircraft carrier in August of 1942.

In one battle, Lt. Owen narrowly escaped death -- the tip of his wing shot off by a Japanese fighter pilot.

Each man still has his pilot's log book, the names of 16 men who didn't come home forever written in those pages and on their hearts.

"I've never forgotten my squadron," said Owen. "That's been in my mind forever. We lost a lot of good men back then."

The men were brought together when Ray's son, Ray Jr., came across a magazine in a Michigan bookstore containing an interview with Bob Turnell.

With the help of the museum, he tracked the commander down in Bothell, and 72 years later the two came together again.

"They were 21, 22 years old, join the Navy, jump into one of these planes and go off to war," Ray, Junior beamed with pride. "I couldn't do that. Not then, not now."

The men and their families were given a personal tour of Paul Allen's Flying Heritage and Combat Museum, complete with the Corsair fighter each of them flew -- a flying machine turned time machine connecting two of our greatest once again. 

The reunion was part of a series put together by NBC Learn and Vulcan Productions. Click here to the story.

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