COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–Reunions are a big deal are big deal for a lot of us right now. For Steve Klein and a girl who grew up as Jayne Bell, their reunion has been half a century in the making. Actually, it was their first meeting since they met on paper, in letters to Vietnam.
“It was fifty years this year that I started my tour in Vietnam,” Stephen Klein said when revisiting memories that weren’t always so pleasant.
A 22-year-old college grad from Toledo sent to Nha Trang Vietnam.
“I came across my address book that I took to Vietnam,” he said while pulling out his little blue book.
Two or three weeks passed after he posted, “About 50 years ago did you correspond with a soldier stationed in Vietnam?” on Jayne Nathans Facebook page.
“I didn’t see it until then, so the day I saw I responded,” Jayne said recalling.
“Yes, I did, is that you?” she responded to Stephen.
This was Jayne as an 8th grader in Beachwood, Ohio 50 years ago.
“I really think it was a project learning how to write letters, and I was interested in corresponding with the soldiers,” she said of her 8th-grade efforts.
Steve’s commanding officer asked if anyone wanted to correspond with a junior high kid from Ohio.
“When I got the first letter from Jayne I was like you know, this gives me contact with the real world,” he smiled while saying.
The letters are all gone by now. They remember about 15 times they wrote back and forth from May to December in 1971 before Steve got out alive.
“We all, we all had that same sense of urgency. We want to go home,” he said with a sigh.
In 2021, that 22-year-old and 13-year-old met for the first time in Yellow Springs.
“Waiting for me with his arms wide open it was just really special,” she said fondly recalling their first meeting.
Jayne and her husband now live in Columbus. Steve’s a lawyer living with his wife in Visalia.
Two kids from Ohio, both from Jewish heritage. One wanted to serve his country and the other wanted to support the servicemen.
“When you decide to give something with no ulterior motive, it comes back to really give something to the giver,” Jayne said of the lesson learned.
Together again, for a moment, thanks to letters from Ohio to Vietnam.
“Every piece of good that you do helps everyone because we are all connected.”