WASHINGTON (WUSA9)-- Kim Mitchell is back in her Washington, D.C. home and recounting the moment she got to meet the man that saved her life some 40 years ago.
She said about the moment the two were able to finally meet, "The look in his eyes when he saw me was like there was almost instant recognition."
Her hero is a man by the name of Tran Khac Bao, and their stories date back nearly 40 decades to war-torn Vietnam. He was a 22-year-old South Vietnamese soldier, and she was an infant left orphaned after her village was destroyed and her mother was killed.
Bao, in a desperate attempt to save the infant, took her to an orphanage.
Mitchell was later adopted and brought to Wisconsin where she was raised. She would grow up to become a Lt. Commander in the Navy. In 2011 she flew back to Vietnam to see what if anything she could learn about her roots. One of her first discoveries was the orphanage she lived in. She said, "Once we got there and there were 2 nuns that met us."
Soon after the dots were connected. Word got out that a Vietnamese-born woman was re-tracing her life's steps. An article in a Vietnamese-American magazine that highlighted her journey somehow made it to Mr. Bao. He had been living stateside in Albuquerque.
After some cross checking and phone calls, the long overdue reunion finally happened.
Mitchell said, "That whole experience was overwhelming. I never expected the warm welcome that I received."
She has left her military job with the Navy and now works with veterans who are re-adjusting to their lives at home. Her whole life she has been committed to serving, but little she did she know she had been inspired by a story that she was never able to finish until now.
She added "Mr. Tran is proof through me that one act of kindness can change the life of a person."
Her and Mr. Bao hope to go back to Vietnam soon for another visit together.