One day Doc and his wife took a cable car downtown, looked up at the City of Paris and practically fainted.
"We were just bowled over," recalls Doc.
"We had no idea," recalls Dick.
"After they put the billboard up, we couldn't walk downtown without people coming up to us and saying, 'Hey, it's the twins!'"
"If you got us on a streetcar, we were mobbed. And if we went into a bar, we couldn't buy a drink."
"We had a good time with it."
"We were celebrities, all right."
And then (many years later), Dick walks into Wal-Mart
After the war, Dick and Doc moved to Denver, bought houses, raised families and completed successful careers. Dick was a mechanical engineer who worked on nuclear bombs, among other things. Doc was a construction engineer who worked on Rocky Flats, among other things. Dick became a lifelong member of the DAV, and Doc became the PR man for the Pearl Harbor Survivor's club. Meanwhile, the USO photo made its way into Navy training manuals, World War II museums and military bases all over the world.
"And bars," says Dick.
"Lots of bars," says Doc.
Still, few people other than their family members and friends knew Dick and Doc as the celebrity twins of yesteryear. Despite international exposure, their star had quietly faded away.
Then, in October, Dick walked into a Wal-Mart.
He was wearing his usual Navy baseball cap and green chief petty officer's windbreaker, when an employee took him aside and said, "We need you."
Wal-Mart was knee-deep in a nationwide campaign to raise money for a $100 million World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. Movie director Steven Spielberg and actor Tom Hanks, who had made Saving Private Ryan, both had signed on. So had veterans' groups from around the country. The man asked Dick for help, and Dick said yes. The man then snapped Dick's photo and asked if he had any wartime memorabilia or old stories he'd like to share.
"Oh, jeez," Dick thought. "Here we go again."
Dick showed the man the USO photo, and the man got all excited and called the home office in Arkansas. Then the home office got all excited, one thing led to another, and Dick and Doc became poster boys anew.
"It was just like it was during World War II," says Dick.
"It got popular all over again," says Doc.
Their photos were displayed in the store, and during the recent Veteran's Day weekend, they helped raise more than $12,000. If their schedules allow, they'll be back in action on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, working the crowd like they did in 1943.
"We've become slobrities all over again," says Dick.
"That picture will live on after we're dead," says Doc. "This thing will never die."
Epilogue: And then comes dinner
For their help raising money for the World War II memorial, Wal-Mart has promised to treat Dick and Doc to some quality chow.
"Oh, yeah," says Dick.
"Oh, yeah," says Doc. "Wal-Mart is taking us and our wives to dinner."
"So we're back to eating again."
"Food is still important, you know."
"Oh, yeah. Everything goes back to the stomach."