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Saved at Sea, a Family of Nurses Reunite 4 Decades Later With Their Rescuers

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Thao Nguyen and Chip Reichert reunite almost 40 years after a rescue in the South China Sea.WGN-TV

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In 1981, the USS John Young spotted a motorless fishing boat filled with people in the South China Sea—and saved their lives. They were without food, without water. That rescue was the first of hundreds for the Navy ship that year. Veterans carried those memories for decades, and recently, a group of those Vietnamese refugees, now US citizens, joined the veterans at a reunion in Mobile, Alabama.

One retired sailor, Chip Reichert, had a gasp of recognition when a girl they’d rescued, Thao Nguyen, now an adult, walked to the podium.

“I want to say thank you,” she told the veterans. “You all made a difference, and what you did mattered.”

Reichert hugged Nguyen, who came to the reunion with her mother, her aunt, and a cousin. “She looked at me, and all we did was cry,” Reichert told WGN-TV. “Twenty minutes of just seriously crying.” She and several family members, all rescued by the Navy ship, had become nurses in the United States, inspired by the kindness of those........

© Mother Jones