Touching Craigslist Ad From Heartbroken Vietnam Vet Goes Viral
A touching Craigslist “Missed Connections” ad from a heartbroken Vietnam veteran to the anonymous woman who prevented him from committing suicide has gone viral, WPVI (Philadelphia) is reporting.
In the waning days of the Vietnam War, an unidentified veteran was at home alone in his apartment in Boston, having been discharged after serving with “distinction,” as he called it. Unfortunately, like so many other Vietnam vets, he was riddled with guilt, drunk, and contemplating suicide. On New Year’s Eve 1972, he made a decision.
“And so on the morning of that New Year’s Eve, I found myself in a barren studio apartment on Beacon and Hereford with a fifth of Tennessee rye and the pang of shame permeating the recesses of my soul. When the bottle was empty, I made for the door and vowed, upon returning, that I would retrieve the Smith & Wesson Model 15 from the closet and give myself the discharge I deserved.”
The anonymous man then wandered around the streets of Boston for “hours,” with no destination in particular. When it started raining, he got out from under the rain under the roof of a Boston landmark, The Old State House. There, he saw the woman who would ultimately save his life.
“You’d taken shelter under the balcony of the Old State House. You were wearing a teal ball gown, which appeared to me both regal and ridiculous. Your brown hair was matted to the right side of your face, and a galaxy of freckles dusted your shoulders. I’d never seen anything so beautiful.”
The two star-crossed strangers then ducked into a five-and-dime for some coffee, and spent a while talking. The woman spoke of being in an unhappy engagement to someone in a prominent Boston family. The vet didn’t mention his experience in Vietnam, but as he said, she could see that he was at war with himself.
Unfortunately, their meeting didn’t last — the vet stepped into the restroom, and when he returned, she was gone. He would return to that coffee counter every day for a year. He never saw her again.
However, that chance meeting turned his life around.
“Ironically, the torture of your abandonment seemed to swallow my self-loathing, and the prospect of suicide was suddenly less appealing than the prospect of discovering what had happened in that restaurant. The truth is I never really stopped wondering.”
Fast-forward 40 years. The unidentified Vietnam vet describes himself as “an old man.” He’s lived a good life — married, had a child, seen the world. Four years ago, he says, his wife died. A year later, his son. But, he never stopped wondering about what could have been.
One fateful day, he was talking to a friend at the VFW, who told him about social media. Not being familiar with Facebook, and thinking it would be useless (all the Vietnam vet was aged and unrecognizable; all he knew about the woman was her name and that she had lived in Boston for a time), he declined. So the friend introduced the Vet to his daughter, who told him about Craigslist.
As you may be aware, Craigslist has a “Personals” section, and within that section is a “Missed Connections” section. Craigslist users take to “Missed Connections” to find people who they may have seen and talked to, but weren’t able to exchange contact information with. Needless to say, most of those Craigslist Missed Connections are mundane and not Earth-shattering — a guy saw a cute girl at a bus stop and forgot to say “Hi” before she got on the bus, for example.
But for someone to use this Craigslist feature to find someone who helped turn them away from suicide 40 years ago — that may be unprecedented.
And it may be a hoax, says WPVI. Since everything in this story is anonymous, there’s no verifying if any of the story is true, or just an elaborate, though well-crafted, bit of internet theater. Although, to be fair, it was raining in Boston on New Year’s Eve, 1972.
You can read the heartbroken Vietnam vet’s appeal to Craigslist to help find the woman who turned him away from suicide in its entirety here — but be warned: you’ll need a tissue.