Marine Sgt. Maj. Brian Taylor and Sgt. Maurice Bease bonded when they served together in Fighter Attack Squadron 225 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in the late 1990s. Taylor became a mentor to Bease - a father figure of sorts.
Taylor told the Baltimore Sun:
"He needed direction, so I just sort of kind of took him under my wing."
In 2000, Taylor left San Diego for Japan. Bease was assigned to the Pentagon. On 9/11, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building, and an erroneous rumor spread that Bease was one of the 184 victims killed in the attack.
When Taylor heard of Bease's death, he was devastated. He even sent condolences to Bease's family. Taylor told the Baltimore Sun:
"It was always something that was on my mind. One thing that really stuck out about him is the kid always had a smile on his face. Just always had a smile on his face. He was very easy to remember and very difficult to forget."
Cut to April 6, 2012. Both Taylor and Bease attended a recruit graduation at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. When Taylor saw Bease standing there, very much alive, the tough Marine became choked up. He felt like he was looking at a ghost:
"I hugged him and I squeezed him and I just kept saying, 'I thought you got killed!' "
Bease was also thrilled to see the Marine who had been so influential in his youth. The two men have stayed in touch since their surprise reunion, and plan not to lose contact this time around.