Jerry Wilson walked into the Lincoln County Journal newsroom bearing relics from different era in America's history.

A few minutes later, Ramon Lopez walked through the door. The two old friends shook hands and began reminiscing about the first time they met, six decades earlier.

Wilson then opened the yearbook he received from his time in boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, as well as showing Lopez a fading black-and-white photo of their platoon.

It was June 6, 1960, the 16th anniversary of Allied Forces' landing in Normandy on D-Day. President Dwight Eisenhower's administration was winding down, and no one knew about the turbulent decade that was soon to follow.

Lopez and Wilson each arrived at boot camp to begin a 13-week odyssey that would lead to the duo becoming United States Marines.

Wilson and Lopez had different feelings when they first set foot on the golden footprints of MCRD-San Diego.

"It's just unbelievable. I was just baffled," said Wilson, who lives in Elsberry. "You just go from one world to the next."

"They just dropped us off at the gate. We gave our papers to the (Officer of the Day)," said Lopez, who was born and raised in Chandler, Arizona. "One of the guards was watching cartoons, and I laughed.

"A drill instructor showed up and said 'that's the last time you'll laugh at anything for the next 13 weeks, a*****e.'"

Wilson and Lopez first met one another under the weirdest, but simplest of circumstances: height.

"(Our drill instructors back then) had the tall guys up front, and the shorter guys in the same Quonset hut - and we were paired together," Wilson said. "It's amazing what you can recall decades later. You can remember even the smallest things."

One of Lopez's best memories came from the rifle range, and the long hike to and from it.

"After we finished our training on the rifle range, we would have to hike from Camp Matthews back to the Quonset huts," he said. "That was about 20 miles."

Lopez and Wilson both volunteered for military service, but many members of their platoon at boot camp were drafted - a symbol of the realities of the time.

"Back then, we were still in the draft," said Wilson, who was born in Arkansas, but moved to Missouri with his family as a child. "Most of them weren't there because they wanted to be."

After graduation from boot camp, and eight weeks of infantry training at Camp Pendleton in California, Wilson served four years before being discharged in 1964. Lopez would go on to serve 23 years before retiring as a gunnery sergeant in 1983.

The pair lost touch for over a half-century. After his retirement from the Marines, Lopez stayed in Missouri and was employed by Lockheed-Martin for the next three decades before retiring.

It was a chance encounter at a Veterans Coffee Talk in Troy when he ran into his old bunkmate for the first time in 51 years.

"I walked in, and (Wilson) was sitting by himself," Lopez said. "I said 'this table is for Marines,' and he said. 'I am a Marine.'

"I saw the yearbook, and I immediately realized he remembered me. We've been the best of buddies ever since."

Since then Lopez and Wilson have attended the Marine Corps Ball together, and sat next to each other at the Vietnam Veterans Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. in 2016. On Saturday, they each attended a 60th-anniversary reunion of their platoon.

"I can't believe it's been 60 years," Wilson said. "Most people don't live that long."

A lot has changed since 1960, including the Marine Corps. For Wilson and Lopez, however, the bonds of friendship have not.

"That's our story - and we're sticking to it," Lopez said.