Reunions
Over 50 years after saving soldiers life Vietnam veteran comes face-to-face with man he saved
The brave Vietnam veteran never knew what happened to the man he saved and always wondered.
Jaclyn Abergas
04.14.22

Wars are never easy, especially for soldiers. The war changes them if they come out alive.

And it leaves soldiers with a traumatic experience, even when they get home, that they end up keeping everything in and not talking about it. That was the case with Dale Edge, a Vietnam War veteran based in Ashland, Illinois.

YouTube/KSDK
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YouTube/KSDK

In 1968, this young farmer had to hang up his farm boots and put on army boots.

“I knew probably it was a good likelihood I would get drafted. I wasn’t going to volunteer, but I wasn’t going to run either,” Dale told KSDK.

And it was a difficult period as a soldier, fighting for your life, your troops’ life, and your country. Dale was happy when he finally made it back home.

YouTube/KSDK
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YouTube/KSDK

But it was short-lived.

“There’s guys kissing the ground, glad to be back, glad to have made it,” Dale recalled. “Then, another 30 feet from where they were doing that, people behind a fence started screaming and hollering and stuff that I ain’t going to repeat it.”

This broke his heart and Dale decided not to share his story with anyone. He simply kept it all in.

YouTube/KSDK
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YouTube/KSDK

But there was one story that he couldn’t let go of and he couldn’t keep it to himself.

While he was in Vietnam, his fellow soldier was badly wounded and, luckily, Dale was there to help him. The soldier he helped was Fred Kjorlien.

They were in the same platoon but they didn’t know each other very well.

YouTube/KSDK
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YouTube/KSDK

And 50 years later, Dale still wonders what happened to Fred.

“I didn’t know if he lived. I wanted to know if he made it or not,” Dale wondered.

He didn’t have to wonder anymore. Because when he finally got a smartphone recently, he looked up Fred’s name and got an update. But it took him awhile before he could get the courage to give Fred a call.

YouTube/KSDK
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YouTube/KSDK

When Fred answered though, he admitted that he couldn’t remember Dale and Dale understood. It’s been 53 years after all.

But when Dale told the story, Fred knew who he was. And not only did Fred remember but he drove more than 560 miles from Minnesota to Ashland, Illinois to reunite with his fellow soldier, the one who saved his life.

YouTube/KSDK
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YouTube/KSDK

“I got behind a tree dropped down and this leg was up and I was shooting,” Fred shared with KSDK. “And an RPG hit the side of the tree.”

Dale was the one who found him, put a tourniquet on Fred’s leg, and helped bring him to a medical evaluation chopper.

“He said, ‘I’m going to beat you home,'” Dale recalled. “I said, ‘I’ll never forget that Fred.’ And I didn’t.”

YouTube/KSDK
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YouTube/KSDK

And Dale never did forget.

For half a century, he always wondered what had happened to Fred if he made it or not. Thanks to technology, he didn’t have to wonder anymore.

“It was an answer to a prayer if you want to know the truth,” Dale said. “I don’t know how many times I prayed for that man.”

It wasn’t an easy route literally. Dale had to give Fred directions on the phone several times so he can find Dale’s farm. And when they finally saw each other again, it was a sweet reunion.

Seeing each other and knowing what they’ve gone through to get home has made it a little bit easier to remember those hard times again.

YouTube/KSDK
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YouTube/KSDK

Want to witness the reunion 50 years in the making between these two men? Watch the video.

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By Jaclyn Abergas
hi@sbly.com
Jaclyn Abergas is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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