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Knife returned decades later to Vietnam vet

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In this Oct. 11, 2013, photo, Frank Cybulski, right, of Roseville, holds his old hunting knife that he left in Vietnam after being injured in January 1970 in Roseville, Mich. Bill Deskins, left, of Warren, helped in the effort to return the knife to Cybulski through his facebook connection with Army sergeant, Loyd Cates of Texas, who kept the knife for over 40 years. (AP Photo/Detroit News, Max Ortiz) 2013

In this Oct. 11, 2013, photo, Frank Cybulski, right, of Roseville, holds his old hunting knife that he left in Vietnam after being injured in January 1970 in Roseville, Mich. Bill Deskins, left, of Warren, helped in the effort to return the knife to Cybulski through his facebook connection with Army sergeant, Loyd Cates of Texas, who kept the knife for over 40 years. (AP Photo/Detroit News, Max Ortiz)

ROSEVILLE, Mich. – A Detroit-area war veteran has recovered a prized possession that was left behind in Vietnam more than 40 years ago: a hunting knife sent by his parents when he was just a 20-year-old soldier.

Frank Cybulski, 64, of Roseville said it arrived a few days ago from a fellow soldier in Texas. All he could do was stare at the box for 10 minutes.

“I opened it up and pulled the knife out. That’s when I started crying,” Cybulski told The Detroit News (http://bit.ly/16WTkth).

He was a sergeant in 1970, on patrol in South Vietnam with the 199th Infantry Brigade, when North Vietnamese soldiers triggered a mine. Cybulski said all he can remember is a “gigantic orange ball in my face … like looking at the sun.”

Badly burned, he was evacuated to a hospital and eventually sent home to Michigan. The knife was picked up by another sergeant, Loyd Cates, who always believed he would see Cybulski again.

But many years passed and they still hadn’t reunited. By last summer, Cates, of Smithville, Texas, decided to find Cybulski. He knew Cybulski was from Hamtramck, a small city in the Detroit area, and reached out to Bill Deskins, creator of a Facebook page that keeps track of people who grew up there.

Cates finally reached Cybulski by phone this month and shipped the knife. Cybulski said he wants to carve “754” into the handle, the number of men from his brigade who died in Vietnam, and plans to take the knife to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

“My grandson just turned 2 years old, and it’s very important to me to walk that wall and touch it with him,” Cybulski told the newspaper. “I want to place that knife at the wall in Washington and leave it there.”

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