Last year, Don Doucette was walking into the post office to mail a letter when he saw a face that seemed familiar.
After taking some time to put a name to the face, he realized who it was. The man was Bob Turcotte and the two have a special bond that dates back more than 50 years when they both served in the Korean War.
As Doucette was about to be sent home from Korea when the war was ending in 1953, something caught his eye. On the floor of a latrine was a Haverhill Gazette newspaper with Turcotte’s name on it.
“I hadn’t seen a newspaper in two years,” said Doucette, a Haverhill resident. “But I had no idea it would be a Haverhill paper.’’
Doucette and Turcotte did not know each other at the time, but before Doucette went home for good, he touched base with Turcotte, who asked him to say hello to his family for him and say that he was doing well overseas.
Doucette did just that and the two never crossed paths again until their meeting in the post office just under a year ago.
On Saturday, the two were reunited as the Northeast Veterans Outreach Center hosted a memorial at G.A.R. Park to celebrate and honor veterans of the Korean War. The meeting with Turcotte lit a fire in Doucette’s heart and inspired him to get involved in the Korean Veterans Association of Haverhill.
“I was still bitter about the war for the longest time,” Doucette said. “The reason I got involved was that these people do so many good things for children. They give out scholarships and collect money. It’s a great thing that they do.”
Jim Davis works at the Northeast Community Outreach Center for Veterans and organized this event shorty after the Korean War statue was erected in G.A.R. Park about 10 years ago.
“I have friends in the Korean community,” Davis said. “They approached me and wanted to do something to show their gratitude for those who served.”
The outreach center invited all Merrimack Valley veterans of the war to the monument at the park, where they participated in a brief ceremony on Saturday. The ceremony is held every year on or around July 27 to mark the anniversary of the end of the Korean War. Each year, the names of fallen local soldiers are read as part of the ceremony.
In addition to veterans, a motorcycle group called “Rolling Thunder” appeared at the ceremony showing support for soldiers who were killed in action, missing in action and prisoners of war.
A reception followed at the outreach center with Korean food served. It gave the veterans a chance to reconnect and catch up on old war stories.
But for Doucette, there is one old friend he enjoyed seeing the most.
“(Turcotte’s) a wonderful man,” Doucette said. “He’s a family man and he’s a big sweetheart of a guy. I get goosebumps when I think about that moment in the post office.”