A touching story has gone viral this week. A U.S. Vietnam War Veteran has been reunited with a lost love.
Jim Reischl, 68, was just twenty one when he was stationed at Tan Son Nhut air base just outside of Saigon. He was there for a year long tour when he met Linh Hao. The two fell in love, got an apartment together and Linh got pregnant. In 1970, when Jim’s tour was up he went back to Minnesota leaving Linh behind. He hadn’t believed at the time that she was pregnant and was just ready to go home. He told The Washington Post that it was a stupid decision to leave, but he wasn’t ready to uproot his home. He said:
“She wanted me to stay with her and live in Vietnam. At the time I said, ‘I’m not going to live here, stay here.’ It was totally foreign to me. I was young and stupid, I guess.”
Once he returned to Minnesota he lived a full life. He became a government cartographer. He was married and divorced (twice) and had a son. He dealt with health issues and came out the other side. But one constant in his mind was Linh. He never stopped thinking about her and the life he gave up with her.
In 2005, Jim’s second marriage ended and he began his search for Linh. He contacted Father Founded which is an organization that helps soldiers find children they fathered and lost contact with during the war. According to Father Founded, there are about 100,000 children who were parented by a U.S. soldier and Vietnamese civilian during the Vietnam War.
Jim even placed ads in newspapers near where the couple had rented their $5 a month apartment. His ad had a photo of both of them and read:
“I am in search of you. It has been many years. I am not looking for a relationship. I want you to know that. I just would like to talk with the wonderful lady I knew in 1969 and 1970.”
It was last September when Linh, 64, opened up an article on her computer about children who lost their parents during the war. Right smack dab in the middle of the article was a picture of her and Jim! She said:
“The moment I saw it, I knew. Suddenly the memories of the first love reemerged.”
She immediately contacted the journalist and told her side of the story. It was December 18th 1970 when she gave birth to their daughter, Nguyen Thanh Nguyen Thuy. Unable to care for the child on her own, she asked her friend to take the baby to an orphanage. Later on, when she went to visit Nguyen, the orphanage said there was no record of that baby ever being brought to their facilities.
With nothing tying her down, she joined the South Vietnamese army where she met her husband, 74. They had two children together and lived a happy life until a stroke left him unable to function. Linh admits that while she has a full life, she does have regrets about not having her first born daughter. She said she was “still angry with” Jim for leaving.
The reporter took down her information and arranged for Jim and Linh to meet up. They started out with texting, skype and phone calls and then this past weekend it all came to a head. Jim travelled over 8, 500 miles to meet up with Linh. He said:
“I am getting a bit excited. Geez, I haven’t seen her in 45 years!”
While Jim had nothing but positive feelings about the reunion, Linh wasn’t so sure. She said:
“It’s a lie to say I’m completely calm and carefree about this event. I have mixed feelings about it. I’m quite happy with my current life, otherwise. My only unfulfilled dream is to be able to find my first daughter.”
But after their visit, they were both flooded with emotion and pleased with how it went. The pair are now both set on the path of finding their daughter.
If nothing else, their own reunion should give them hope that anything is possible. Best of luck in finding your baby girl you two!