• Man reunites with SC Vietnam veteran who saved his life during combat


    MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Two Vietnam veterans, one of them from Myrtle Beach, caught up Sunday morning for the first time in 50 years. 

    Before this, they had only met once for five minutes when Frank Esposito was saving Jim Watkins' life. 

    [ALSO READ: Vietnam veteran awards Purple Heart, Bronze Star to slain UNCC student]

    Watkins' helicopter was hit during combat in the Vietnam War and it crashed in the Laotian jungle, leaving him and six other soldiers trapped for three days. 

    On March 7, 1971, Esposito, who was flying a small helicopter dangerously low on fuel, spotted the men and rescued them. 


    (Frank Esposito)

    "I wouldn't have kids or grandkids," Watkins said. "So, every day from March 7 to now, has been kind of like a bonus for me. You know if I die tomorrow, I've had all this, all this extra time because of Frank."

    Their reunion happened in Myrtle Beach, and our news partner WPDE had the opportunity to be there. 

    About six months ago, when Watkins and his wife, who live in Michigan, were planning a vacation to Myrtle Beach, he realized Esposito lived there. 

    "Anybody that goes to combat shares a bond," Esposito said. "Whether you're in the air, on the ground, if you're a cook back in the rear or a mechanic. You all share a bond."

    Esposito said he is rounding up all the men involved in the rescue mission because he said there is not much time left to do it. 

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