Kansas man gets letter by mistake, helps reunite Vietnam Veterans
A handwritten note changed everything for James Porter.
This summer, James got an unexpected piece of mail from California. In it, a man named John Washe wrote a plea to find a friend who served in the Vietnam War.
“I’m attempting to locate an x Army buddy named Jimmy Lee Porter of Wichita. Worked for Cessna,” he wrote in the note, dated July 19. “He is in his very early 70’s now, was stationed as a draftee in Ft. Hood between 1966 and 1968. If this is the correct Jimmy, pls let me know.”
This is the second note John would send to Porter. The first letter came 15 years ago, but James was motivated this time around to help out the man.
James contacted several military organizations, like the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Veterans Administration. Some told him that Jimmy Lee Porter wasn’t in their record books. James contacted KAKE’s Annette Lawless for help, fearing the man may be dead.
Yet, days later, James found Jimmy.
It was perfect timing, as John had plans to drive through Kansas soon.
The three met this week. It turns out the James and Jimmy had a lot in common. Not only do they share the same name, but they are both pilots and have also worked for Cessna. Jimmy’s wife’s name is Mary. James’s mom’s name is also Mary.
The evening was an experience of a lifetime, James said.
“I've was awesome. We sat and talked for hours,” he said. “Talk about some great stories. I can tell you the bond those guys have after serving in war together is stronger than many family relationships. To say the least that meeting after 50 years was definitely a check off their bucket list.”
“This has been one of the greatest experiences of my adult life,” James said. “And these two were tickled pink to see each other while reminiscing about old times. One small bit of your time can change someone’s life.”
Certainly, for Jimmy and John, they’re grateful for the time James gave to them – with a reunion decades in the making.