Local veterans celebrate 80 years of friendship

Local veterans celebrating 80 years of friendship
Posted at 4:53 AM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-16 08:53:54-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A life-long friendship can be hard to come by. That’s not the case for Jim Gardiner and Jack Thomson.

Thomson and Gardiner are both 97-year-old World War II veterans. They enlisted in the U.S. Navy together 77 years ago in the spring of 1942.

“I just always felt like Jim was one of my best friends in high school,” Thomson said.

They both attended Kern County Union High School, which is now known as Bakersfield High School.

“I’ve got grandkids there now,” Thomson said.

Thomson and Gardiner were a part of Honor Flight #38, a trip that allowed local veterans to be flown to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials built in their honor for the first time.

It was the trip of a lifetime for these veterans for many reasons.

For Thomson and Gardiner, it allowed them to see each other for the first time in years, and reminisce on their 80 years of friendship.

They both served from 1942-1945. They didn’t have much contact during the war, but when they returned home, they picked things right back up.

Both men married and became life-long farmers, and made sure to stay in touch.

“Over the years we got together, went on parties and things like that. We joined dance club for a few years,” Gardiner said. “We went on several fishing trips together and stuff like that.”

Thomson said he had thought about applying to be a part of Honor Flight for years, but it was Gardiner who pushed him to join.

“Jim called his son and he called my son and my son signed me up. So uh, I’m probably here because Jim Gardiner thought I outta come with him,” Thomson laughed.

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