(CBS) — On this Memorial Day, two men remember their fellow soldiers who didn’t return home from World War II.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports they’ve found comfort in a close friendship that’s seven decades old.
Nick Sherbula and Jim Vitti, both 90 years old and native Chicagoans, were strangers before World War II and the U.S. Army brought them together. They grew up in different parts of the city.
In France, they had the heartbreaking duty of identifying and burying American soldiers killed in combat.
“If they didn’t have their dog tags, you had to take dental charts, finger prints. … Terrible job,” Jim says.
The experience left them with a lifelong, personal understanding of the toll of war.
“Unless you worked in a military cemetery, you are not allowed to vote for war,” Nick says.
Both Nick and Jim returned to Chicago. Nick went to work for the IRS, and Jim was a photo engraver. They maintained their close friendship.
Nick was Jim’s best man, and their children grew up together.
“This is such a beautiful human interest story,” Jean Williams, Nick’s daughter, says. “We’re just very proud of our dads. We really are.”
Nick is a widower. Jim’s been married 65 years. Both are grandfathers, and both earned Purple Hearts in World War II.