All-Oregonian platoon reunited: 'These guys are my brothers'

EUGENE, Ore. -- After 45 years apart, the only all-Oregon member platoon that trained during Vietnam spent a day together.

When the Tet Offensive was launched in January of 1968, it marked a turning point in the lives of 78 young Oregonians.

Ken Norwood enlisted in the marines during the height of the Vietnam War. He was among the 80 men sworn into Oregon's only all-state platoon by former governor Tom McCall.

"Well, we were extremely close ... the one thing the marine corps taught us was to work as a team and depend on each other," Norwood said.

78 of these recruits trained, endured and completed two months of rigorous training only to be sent off to different parts of the world. Saturday marked the first time the group had been all together since their training.

"Society had a tendency to disenfranchise some of these guy who were over there, and most of us wanted to get on with our lives when we got back," explained John Fotheringham, one of the Oregon platoon members.

In spite of the distance and time, Norwood wanted to try and bring everyone back together.

"From time to time I wondered what happened to these guys and it was a thought that was boiling for years," Norwood said. "I was able to do enough research to find several of them."

So after 45 years apart this band of brothers came together at Armatage Park for a day of reacquainting and remembering.

Many of the old platoon still live inside state lines, like Bill Randolph who came from his home near Cascade Lakes.

"I'd like to find out what happened to find out what the other guys have done with themselves ... how they're getting along ... how many survived '68 to '72," said Randolph.

While there were fewer faces at the reunion, the sentiment was the same for all in attendance. They'll be sure to never lose touch with one another from here on out.

"It gave us something no one else could give you...and even today these guys are my brothers...that's it," Norwood said.