Veteran’s Day is a time of reflection and thankfulness. There are currently more than 20,000,000 veterans alive and well in the United States, from WWII all the way through the Iraq War. It’s important to remember to thank the veterans in your life on Veteran’s Day and also to be grateful for their service!
In honor of these heroes, and because we love reunions, we’ve sourced three incredibly heartwarming stories of deserving veterans reconnecting, thanks to technology and destiny, after decades apart. Enjoy!
Navy Buddies Find Each Other After 40 Years of Searching
Joe Martinez and Rick Mueller served as Navy Shipmates together during the Vietnam War they were so inseparable their friends called them “M and M.” At the time they were only 17 and 18 years old, respectively, but they formed a tight bond that neither forgot in the some 40+ years since. At several points since the early 1970s they tried to find each other, Rick spending $5 in change in 1976 calling all the “Joe Martinez” listings in a Denver area phone book. But no luck. They talked about each other frequently to their families and remembered stories of their service together fondly.
But just a couple of years ago, Joe’s sister-in-law searched online for information about Rick Mueller and struck gold. She found an address, Joe wrote a letter and low and behold, a few weeks later it made its way to Rick in Minnesota. Their first phone call lasted two hours and then came a visit…a highly emotional one. In a cell phone video by their families you can clearly hear Joe, “My God buddy. I love you. I love you.” The two are planning another visit next year.
Vietnam Pilot Finally Gets to Thank the Soldier Who Saved His Life
March 18, 1970 was a fateful day for George Scott and Mark Abel. George was piloting a COBRA helicopter with John on board when enemy fire rained down hard, shooting several crew members including George. With a gaping chest wound and a downed chopper it was up to John to keep the enemy at bay until help arrived…and to keep his pilot alive. “He was fighting against a very superior force,” said George. But fight he did. The crew was evacuated – George with a collapsed lung – and the two last saw each other in a hospital in Saigon as they recovered.
Thirty-eight years later after hearing dozens of recountings of the story, Mark’s fiancé Kathy used Facebook to finally track George down. The two friended each other and enjoyed catching up on each other’s lives through photos, children and grandchildren included. Earlier this year the American Legion in Newport, CT the two finally came face to face after 44 years apart. George says he was simply grateful for the opportunity to thank Mark for his courage. “Mark saved my life. No one of us would be here today, my wife, my daughter, my grandson, without him.”
Childhood Friends Reconnect in a Nursing Home Decades After D-Day
Michael James Conley (a.k.a. Jimmy) and Betty Cushman Jones Esch grew up together in Forestport, NY. Though they never dated they were inseparable as teens, going dancing often. When WWII began, Jimmy joined the army and Betty joined the Navy, thrusting the two thousands of miles apart. They both experienced the war from different countries and when it ended, neither immediately returned to Forestport. Both married soon after D-Day and the two assumed they’d never see each other again.
When Jimmy’s wife died while they were both at the Sunset Nursing Home and Extended Care Facility in Boonville, NY, he was distraught. Not long after, one Betty Cushman coincidentally arrived at the facility in the wake of a fall and the two reconnected after nearly 70 years apart. With rooms directly across the hall from each other the two rekindled a friendship, sitting together in their wheelchairs and watching TV from one another’s rooms. According to Betty’s daughter Rhonda, “When Jimmy heard his dear old friend Betty was now across the hall from him he perked up and began to smile again.” Jimmy died in June of this year and was buried on D-Day, but Betty still hangs an American flag over her couch in his honor.
Don’t forget to try Spokeo for all of your people search and reunion needs!