Vietnam for just ninety days.
Cox was shot three times. "I'm the one who played dead in the field," he tells me in a loud, gruff voice. "They hit me at eight in the morning, the second time about two-thirty, and then they hit me again, and I went 'ohhhh,' and they shot me in my rear end. By the time they put me on the helicopter at ten to ten, it was about fourteen hours [since he was first shot]. I'm a miracle to be alive."
It's hard to tell how lucky Ann Arbor stonemason Tom Fuleky feels. He's been telling me about this three-day event for months, asking me to be his guest about a dozen times, and now here it is: sixty-five Marines reminiscing with their spouses and friends, more than 100 people in all, gathered for the closing dinner and program. A perfect gentleman, Tom had invited me to sit at his wife's table, but I chose to join Cox against the wall by a small, white-clothed table where no one sits. The "missing man" table honors the Marines who didn't make it.
The Weber's banquet room is lively and full, but Fuleky's not happy: he didn't know he would be sitting at the head table, didn't dress for it, and treated his discomfort with wine that's not mixing well with the cocktail of medications he takes for his hand tremor and post-traumatic stress disorder.