In January, Jim Reischl will visit Vietnam for the fifth year in a row. But this visit will be different. For four years the Vietnam vet has been searching for his long-lost love, whom he last saw in person when he shipped out in 1970. Now, he'll finally see her again, face to face. "I almost can't believe this," says Minnesota native Reischl, 68, who teamed up with FathersFounded.org to track down his "first girlfriend," Kim Hoa, whom he met in a bar in Saigon in 1969. In September, Reischl's story was featured in a Saigon newspaper along with a photo of Reischl and Kim and portions of a letter he'd written her. He wrote about how he never forgot her and always wondered if some of her last words to him—"I'm pregnant"—were actually true, reports the St. Cloud Times. In Giang Province near the Cambodian border, Kim was browsing the news on her iPad and saw the story.
She called the paper, which contacted Reischl's Vietnamese translator and guide, Phan Hung. Phan met Kim, who told stories about living in an apartment with Reischl in Saigon. In a video taken by Phan, Kim's "mannerisms, the laugh, the smile—that verified it for me," says Reischl. The pair now talk on a messaging app almost daily but "I just want to sit down and have a nice chat with her," Reischl says. He plans to travel to meet Kim next month, then his next search will start. Kim says she was indeed pregnant when Reischl left Vietnam and gave birth to a daughter, Thui Thi, in Vinh Long on Dec. 18, 1970. A friend told her she'd take the baby to an orphanage but disappeared with the child, says Phan. Kim told him she spent years searching to no avail. She eventually got married and had a son and daughter, but Thui Thi could still be out there, says Reischl. His first stop: Vinh Long.