A reunion more than 40 years in the making
SAN ANTONIO - It had been 44 years, and yet, it seemed like they had never been apart.
Two best friends reconnected after over four decades but feared a terminal diagnosis would keep them from ever seeing each other again.
Charles "Rusty" Schreck had not seen his best friend Jimmie Irwin since he was drafted for the Vietnam War in 1972. In fact, not only had they not seen each other, Jimmie didn't even know if his friend, Rusty, had made it home from the war.
"And then right afterwards he was drafted and he was gone. And I just... I've been looking for him ever since," said Jimmie.
Jimmie had been searching for his friend for years. He continued to search for Rusty always looking around Des Moines, Iowa.
"I kept falling back to Des Moines, Iowa. That's where his family was from," said Jimmie. “And I couldn’t find nothing. So, I kept going to craigslist and anybody knows Charles Russell Schreck."
One day, through an email from a woman responding to the craigslist post, Jimmie got a lead that Rusty was living outside of the San Antonio area.
Jimmie called information and found a phone number that may be his long lost friend.
"Julie answered the phone and she said, 'Don't hang up, you've got the right person,'" Jimmie recalled.
When Jimmie introduced himself over the phone, though she had never met him, Julie knew exactly who he was.
"It's been like 30 something years but for years I've heard him talk about Jimmie," said Rusty's wife, Julie Rodriguez.
Rusty was elated to reconnect with his friend. Since they found one another, they regularly talked on the phone. However, due to health and financial issues, they had never been able to connect in person.
Rusty's health played a big factor in keeping them from seeing each other. Rusty had recently received a terminal diagnosis. Rusty has diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer. Rusty said there is no cure for his disease. However, it can be managed with chemotherapy, giving him possibly two years to live instead of only three months
KENS 5 Digital Executive Producer Emily Porter received a call from Rusty's neighbor Debbie P.F. Brunner. Debbie shared the story of the two friends with Emily and KENS 5 was able to help these two friends spend some much needed time together.
Jimmie was nervous to see his friend again. He said it was difficult, though, knowing that it may be the last time that he ever sees Rusty.
"I searched for him for all these years," Jimmie said. "To be taken away from me like this now, it's not fair."
Both men said no matter how long they had been apart, they are like brothers. Even though they believed they would never see each other again, they were like family. They were always connected to each other.
"It's like when you move away from your hometown," Jimmie said. "You grow up with people and you know them and then all of a sudden, it's just... you never know."