St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Trudging up the hill near Yongsan, South Korea ... Mikey

Published July 27, 2003

Leroy "Don" Colts, a tanker who hadn't seen combat, was preparing to spend the night in a foxhole.

The Army had needed more infantrymen, so Colts had been plucked from his duties and handed a rifle and ammunition.

Now, he found himself on a hill near Yongsan.

Suddenly, he noticed three bedraggled fellows heading up the hill. Ragged and unshaven, they were unarmed. And one looked strangely familiar - oddly built, very stocky, with a dark complexion.

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I noticed him coming up the hill," recalled Colts, now 70 and living in Pinellas Park.

It was Mikey, Colt's best friend growing up in an orphanage in upstate New York.

Mikey, or Michael J. Bevacqua, and the two other soldiers had been separated from the rest of B Company of the 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.

Lost for two days, the three soldiers were hungry and tired and happy to see familiar faces.

The friendship between Colts and Bevacqua dated to childhood.

When Colts was 3, his parents separated and sent the children to orphanages. There, Colts and his brothers made friends with Bevacqua and his brothers.

Colts and Bevacqua were best friends until Bevacqua's father reclaimed him when Colts was about 11. Later, after Colts' sister took him in, the two friends found themselves living across the street from each other.

Then, Bevacqua left to join the Army. Colts signed up a little later. The two ran into each other on Christmas Eve in Fort Lewis, Wash.

Now, here they were once again, in Korea. Colts shared his rations, and the men settled in for the night.

Before long, an artillery barrage started pounding them. Colts was terrified, but his old friend reassured him. He could tell by the sound when it was dangerous and when it wasn't.

The next morning, friends were separated once again.

Colts would see Mikey once more during the war. Later, Mikey was declared missing in action and then dead.

When Colts returned home, he went to see Mikey's father, to tell him they had been in the war together, two friends reunited again and again by fate.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.