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Jim Reischl lost touch with a woman he fell in love with during his time in the Vietnam War. Decades later, he traveled to Vietnam to reunite with her.
“I am getting a bit excited,” he said. “Geez, I haven’t seen her in 45 years,” he told The Washington Post.
Nguyen Thi Hanh was a 19-year-old bar hostess when she met Reischl who was then a 21-year-old U.S. Air Force sergeant. When he was due to ship out, Hanh told him she was pregnant. Reischl didn’t believe her but he says he never stopped thinking of Hanh.
“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,” Reischl said. “I was young and stupid, I guess.”
The 68-year-old veteran manage to track down his former flame after a decade of searching. With the help of Father Founded, a group that helps soldiers find their Amerasian children through DNA testing, he was able to find Hanh.
Last spring, in a trip chronicled by The Washington Post, Reischl returned to Vietnam to find out Hanh gave birth. Hanh named their daughter Nguyen Thanh Nguyen Thuy, which means “First Tear.” Hanh said she chose that name because she felt all alone. She ultimately gave the baby to an orphanage to raise.
Hanh went on to marry and have more children. She said she still has feelings of anger toward Reischl for leaving her behind. But, she burst into tears when the two were reunited. They are now determined to locate the daughter they gave up.
Hanh said she’s happy with her life, but her “only unfulfilled dream is to be able to find my first daughter.”