Navy Veterans Reunite After More Than Five Decades

- SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va.— Herman Smith is not a Rams fan, but he showed up to Shepherd University's last regular season home football game with just as much anticipation as everybody around him.

With the hope of reconnecting with Bob Wantz, an old friend from the Navy, he waited patiently among a crowd of tailgaters, which included the man who arranged the reunion.

Bryan Simpson says he was sitting next to Wantz, a former
Shepherd University football player, at a Rams game just three weeks ago. That is when they started talking about Bryan’s home town of Clifton Forge, Virginia.

"He asked me, well do you know a Herman Smith in Clifton Forge?” said Simpson. “I said well I know some of them but I don't know if I know the one you're looking for or not."

It was a chance encounter and a hopeful question that turned an old friendship into an exciting reunion.

And when Bob finally appeared, the two Navy comrades, who have not seen each other since 1956, were eager to reconnect.

"I’ve always gotten along with Bob,” said Smith. “He's a nice guy."

More than 50 years later, they say not much has changed. Herman's still the shy guy and Bob's still the outgoing one.

"Herman’s kind of quiet,” said Wantz.
 “I'm a little bit noisy I guess but Herman is always cool. And I can't say I’m always cool. I mean here we are in the flesh and he looks the same!"

They say being reunited feels even better than they thought it would. 

"You know, certain people just click," said Wantz.

Herman and Bob say it was their mutual love of sports that helped them become friends decades ago, and on Veterans Day weekend this year, they were able to watch football together side by side.

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