Thursday, June 08, 2006

And another circle begins ...

I got another call from Frank on Wednesday evening.
When we spoke Tuesday, I told him that I wanted to write about our unusual bond on my blog, and that his anonymity would be protected.
He was calling Wednesday to make a request.
"I want you to put in my real name," Frank said, "and also that I'm living in a home for veterans with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and drug and alcohol problems. If anyone else can be helped by this, I want to do it.
"The home does a great job, and they can use the plug."

So for the record, his name is Claude Frank Wright Jr., and he goes by Claude. He lives in the C.O.P.I.N. Foundation home in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Claude said his Purple Heart medal went missing during the course of one of his many moves. He thinks it may have been stolen.
"I noticed it was missing several years ago," he said. "I personally think it was stolen because I keep all my stuff together. I had it all stored in one place. I've been missing it so long.
"You don't know how thrilled I am to get this back."

About an hour after talking with Claude, I got an e-mail from a woman who read about my efforts to return his medal to him on a Web site where I posted a request for information from anyone who may have known him.
The woman didn't know Claude but was interested in his experiences because they related to her own. She said she fled Saigon on the last American C-130 cargo plane to leave the South Vietnamese capital before it fell in April 1975. She said she met a lot of U.S. soldiers while living in Saigon and also during humanitarian visits she has made back to Vietnam in the ensuing years.
OK, I thought, this woman was probably a military nurse, or maybe a civilian employee on a military base.
She signed her name, an ordinary Western name about which you wouldn't think twice.
She also included a link to her Web site.

On that site, I learned that the name she affixed to her e-mail was an anglicization of her Vietnamese name. In Saigon during the war, she worked as a bar girl. She is ethnically Cambodian and was subjected to severe racism in Vietnam. She eventually married an American and is now living in the United States.
If she gives me permission, I'll provide her Web site address in another post.

I told Claude, and I told this woman, that I believe that nothing in our lives happens at random. I think everything is interrelated and I don't think there's necessarily anything cosmic or freaky or weird or ironic or scary or inexplicable about it.
It just is.
I don't think it's a Buddhist thing or a Christian, Jewish, Islamic or Hindu thing. It's all about being part of the same fabric.

There's a reason why I bought that Purple Heart medal on eBay, which led to my meeting a bunch of Vietnam vets who encouraged me in my quest to return it to its owner, which led to my meeting Claude, which led to my meeting that woman.

If you don't think we're all in the same boat and that our lives don't intersect somehow, some way, then have I got a story for you.


Phats said...

WOW truly an amazing story. You are one amazing person Michael, truly an inspiration :)

Sorry I've been MIA things got soo crazy lately. My blood work is June 12th coming up my friend

LBseahag said...

True life is better than fiction.

You are the nucleus of a world and lives than are unfolding.

Life is ours daily
And when we meet someone new
Life is both of ours

Michael said...

Beautiful sentiment, LB!

Welcome back, Phats! I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. It's just one more hurdle, right?

Matt Kohai said...

Mike - this is rapidly growing from a newspaper-worthy story to a non-fiction book in the making... Please tell me you're planning to write this story! Or at least hand it off to someone who will!

Michael said...


I'm just happy things are turning out well.

isabel said...

s' wonderful! (O)!

Michael said...


Lone Wolf said...

Wow! The adventure unfolds beautifully as it keeps unfolding. I enjoy the lesson on innerconnectedness.

Michael said...

Thanks, LW.

Kitty said...

No question, it goes beyond being connected. As you say, we're all part of the same fabric. A ripple in one part of the fabric affects the rest.

I've especially been interested lately in PTSD and veterans.Which is a lot of people, including our servicemen and women serving in Iraq.