Kay Lee (KL) and John Nordeen (JN)
Kay Lee (KL): You were one of the first person I talked to and, you know, I’m from a very sheltered life, so I thought you were a little crazy.
John Nordeen (JN): And that was part of how we survived.
KL: After one firefight, you came to me and you showed me a helmet with a bullet hole in it, and I can’t believe you’re alive. All I can say was, ‘John, I think you have a very hard head.’
JN: Yeah, I remember that day but that was a day where a lot of other guys weren’t as lucky as me. Our platoon went from like 29 guys to 10 guys in two days; so the guys that were left, we had even stronger bonds because we had survived this together.
And, you know, when you lose friends you develop a hard exterior and you don’t want to make friends with anyone else; so I don’t have a big circle of friends. I think that’s just one of many hang-ups I brought home with me.
KL: When I got home, most of the time, I tried to forget the whole experience and not think about it too much. And I didn’t try to contact anyone because I’m not sure if you guys wanted to be contacted.
JN: Yeah… Like you, I just melted into the woodwork like a chameleon but I thought about you, Kay. And, one time, I was down in San Francisco and I ripped a page out of the San Francisco phone book that’s got all the Lees with the first initial K and I started going through making phone calls.
How many Lees do you think are out there?
KL: A lot… (laughs)
JN: Yeah… It took years to find you but I found my long-lost buddy and it was just like we’d never been apart.
KL: John, we were so lucky. We survived Vietnam and we’re still here.
JN: Yeah… I’ve learned from you how to try to stay calm at times, even when the world is exploding around you. And that’s why your friendship means the world to me.
KL: Well, it’s hard to describe but the friendship and the bond that you form during battle is different than most friendship. It’s like family now. So I’m very grateful for your effort to find me.
JN: Well, I feel like I’m a treasure hunter and I found the treasure when I found you.