FORT IRWIN, California -- Anyone who's been here has seen it: the field of brightly painted boulders surrounding a small mountain of rocks that symbolizes unit pride at the Army's National Training Center.
For nearly four decades, combat units have painted their insignias on boulders near the road into this post. It's known as Painted Rocks.
U.S. Navy sailors at Los Angeles International Airport. It took the U.S. government nearly 40 years to recover the wreckage of the E-1B Tracer aircraft that crashed, killing Guerra in 1967. (Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
As kids, Ruben and Raul thought they had life all figured out.
They would grow up and live minutes from each other, be best men in each other's weddings, godfathers to each other's children. They would sit side by side at Dodger Stadium, two old men in a sea of blue.
The friends never imagined that after high school both would be sent to Vietnam — but only one would return.
The loss was so painful that for 40 years Ruben Valencia could hardly bring himself to say Raul Guerra's name.
Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct waterborne artillery live fire exercises during Operation GATOR April 24-25, 2019, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. (U.S. National Guard/Mike Vrabel)