Have no regrets

Two weeks ago, I visited Bill Ochs to interview him about the day he answered a phone call that would change my life forever.

Bill Ochs and my father served in the military during the Vietnam  war.   Bill was a Senior Advisor.  Due to serving in different grades in the Army they had very minimal contact and no reason to believe, that once out of the military, their paths would ever cross again.

After retiring from active duty, Bill went to work for the U.S. Department of Energy.  My family was living in a refugee camp in Guam.  During an interview with my father, Red Cross  asked if he knew of anyone, he served with during the Vietnam war, who would be interested in sponsoring our family.   My father remembered Bill Ochs name, which is amazing considering this was eight years later and no reason for either man to recall the other.  As a matter of fact, it was recalled later that Bill Ochs didn’t remember my father.

What happened next I can only describe as divine intervention! The lady from Red Cross said to my father “Well, I know Colonel Ochs.”  “My aunt is married to his father-in-law, General Gaither”.  I cannot imagine what a feeling of relief my father experienced when he made that connection of recalling Bill Ochs name and the lady from Red Cross knowing him.  Out of all 995,000 refugees trying to immigrate to the United States at that time, it was like winning the lottery ticket.  The lady contacted her aunt to try to locate Colonel Ochs.

Bill answered the call one afternoon while working at the U.S. Department of Energy.  A Red Cross representative indicated a family living in a Guam refugee camp had identified Colonel Ochs as someone who might want to sponsor the family.  At first, Bill was reluctant to move forward with such a responsibility,   He contacted his wife to obtain her input on the decision.  Ultimately, his conscience would not let him or Betty say “no”.   “Betty deserves all the credit in this matter”  Bill remembers.  He felt it was an awesome responsibility, but in the end Betty and Bill concluded that “we’d rather regret having done it than not regret for not having done it. To say “we’ll do it” was the right decision and I feel right about doing it”.  Bill and Betty told the Red Cross representative they would sponsor the family, assuming they would have a few weeks to get ready, but the week of the Ochs’ decision, my family was already boarding a flight to Dulles International Airport, Washington D.C.

At the end of our interview I asked Bill where he felt his responsibility begins and ends with sponsoring a family to the U.S.  Bill and Betty felt a deep sense of long term commitment. He encountered a different perspective of family sponsorship after his personal experience with our family.  As many other refugees found churches and relief organizations to sponsor their flight from Vietnam, Bill and Betty did not have such a support structure.  They relied on assistance from friends and families.  Bill said, “I found to get things done, you got to do it yourself or rely on your own resources.  Bob McDaniel deserves a great deal of credit for finding your father and mother their first job”.   To this very day, Bill thinks of me as one of his own daughters.

The quote “we’d rather regret having done it than not regret for not having done it” means a lot more to me now.  It teaches me not to regret, but to only learn and embrace my experiences in life.

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25 Replies to “Have no regrets

  1. In June 1969 I arrived in South Vietnam as a U.S. Army generator mechanic. I have since spent my life in a far different way. The Vietnamese in the USA are wonderful, and i take every opportunity to welcome them when i can. In 1998 I returned to University of Connecticut to finally get my degree. I met a young Vietnamese student Loc Tran, and helped him feel more comfortable in school and with his studies. After our graduation together loc invited me to his parents home for a barbeque and I met his whole family. Since then I stay close with Loc by email as he now has good job in D.C. area. The Vietnamese are a remarkable loving people.

  2. Ann, beautiful story. Thanks a lot for sharing. I showed my dad, who served for three years in Vietnam with the Marine Corps, your blog post and tears appeared through his face when he remembered some very good friends from the Vietnamese Marines that died there. The second later he started to tell me some very good and funny stories about them.

    As a Marine veteran myself I’m truly grateful for having people like you in America that makes really worthy serve and protect our great country.

  3. Ann, Thank you for sharing! Your inspirational story is very moving and it reminds us to look on the bright side and to sometimes depend on others. It’s becoming more and more clear that all we do and care about, even in business, is based on relationships.

    Your blog is off to a gr8 start, I’m so glad you are blogging and I’m looking forward to reading more of your stories and messages. You are obviously a perceptive and talented writer. I’m positive this blog will lead to a book(s)! 🙂

  4. Hello Ann,

    Just wanted to tell you how glad we are to have crossed paths via twitter. There are certainly, “no regrets” in embracing our connection which brings us to a wonderful post; a wonderful telling of a beautiful life-story and lesson like this. It was remarkable and moving and I just wish we had writers like you for our blog. Oops, did I say that out loud? 😉

    Words to live by Ann. Words to live by…

    Many blessings,

    Team YouBloom

  5. Powerful story, presented in such a meaningful way. Valuable lessons to ponder. You appreciate people. They care how much you know when they know how much you care.

    Thank you, Ann, once again, for enriching both my heart and mind.

  6. Hello Ann.

    Being new to social media, though already a bit of a..OK full-blown twitter-addict.. [Gotta love it!] ..I have to say, for me..your post and one’s similar are what it’s all about.

    True Authentic Sharing!

    I get the lump in my throat..maybe one big ole’ tear that makes a giant splash. Or the best bit..when my smile is so big I can’t get it back to normal..at times all by myself laughing so hard it hurts. All that from a little glimpse into someones life you may have never known..had it not been for blogging..social media.

    An inspirational story. For Bill it seems the experience led him committed to living a “life with intention” ..like you’ve so eloquently stated below. What about your dad and mom? Their journey from the airport forward, for that matter..their time in the refugee camp..your dad in Vietnam. I found myself wanting to know more.

    I hope you have plans to write a book..I’ll be one of the first to read it!

    Laurie Ann

    😉 Yes a newbie. You asked for a comment..I left a journal entry. Yikes!

  7. I was reading your story by thinking of how many interesting and unusual destinies await to meet them and learn more about what a life might bring to someone.Fortunately ,your parents were lucky to go through all challenges,meet some great people and show that sometimes a little connection makes wonder,or all that is about destiny?There must be some truth about it.
    And i enjoyed in a nice writing alike.

  8. Hi An,

    Sometimes things are just meant to be. As you said,this is a case of divine intervention. Whenever I hear a story like this, it’s always a mystery about why it should happen. But God has a life and a purpose for each soul, and when we recognize that, it makes it easier to make decisions about what to do as we live our lives.

    Lou Barba

  9. This is a wonderful post. I believe in one thing, there are no regrets, but there are always lessons. Everything happened and whatever I did was right for that moment. Thanks for this thoughtful writing.

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