Rehab Sessions Strengthen Bond Of Three OK Vietnam Veterans

Sunday, June 4th 2017, 6:49 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

A group of veterans says their life-threatening circumstances brought them all to the same place. And now, they say they owe their friendship to their hearts.

Jim Morton was in the Army, Paul Peters was a Marine and Dan Hall was a Navy Seabee. All three served in Vietnam and all three have faced challenges with their hearts.

"I had open heart surgery - five bypasses," Peters said.

Morton said, "I've had three strokes."

"Six months to five years to live - in '94. I guess I proved them wrong," said Hall.

They met during cardiac rehab at the Oklahoma Heart Institute.

Morton: “We were right side-by-side, weren't we?
Peters: "On different machines."

From day one, they knew they'd have a connection.

"These hats that we wear…It's a brotherhood that I think all Vietnam vets have," Morton and Peters said.

The men had rehab sessions there three times a week. They usually showed up early - not for an extra workout but to spend more time together.

"Just the support - talking with them, being with them," Morton said.

Hall said, "Bringing back memories, and good memories."

But when they did more than talk, their heart rates went up, and their bond grew.

Peters said, "When you can hardly walk and you can hardly breathe, hearing somebody else having the same problems you're having, and start building up and giving them encouragement and them giving you encouragement - it just works out that way."

Now, in matching t-shirts and done with rehab, they're feeling stronger and thankful their hearts brought them together.

"Made me more alive," Morton said. "I thank God that I got to be here."