It’s 1972 and Dave Johnson is serving his third tour of duty in Vietnam. It’s a simple mission, he and five other US servicemen are fifteen miles over the border in Cambodia, but it gets complicated fast when their helicopter is hit and they go down in enemy territory. Miraculously, everyone survives the crash, but they’re taking fire on three sides, and they are far from help. Johnson gets on the radio and signals their situation, thinking this is his last dispatch. He is going to die, and there’s not much that can be done about it.
But something is done. Soon they get a response from a chinook pilot on a supply mission that just happened to be in the area. Against common sense and under no orders to do so, the pilot, Bruce Grable, is one his way. Johnson and his fellow troops are rescued that day, and Johnson even recommends Grable for the flying cross, but in the forty-six years since, he’s never had a chance to properly thank Grable. He doesn’t know if he actually received the flying cross, what happened to him after, or if he even survived the war. He owes him a debt of gratitude, and as the years pass, the weight of that debt grows heavier.
Enter Ann Curry and the researchers from her series We’ll Meet Again, which returns for its second Season on PBS on November 13th. They will share Johnson’s story and do their best to reunite him with the man to whom he says he owes his life.
If you watched the first season, the format is familiar. Ann Curry describes a historical event, this time the Vietnam War. They tell the story of people caught up in it, show how closely they are bound together by fate or circumstance, and how they were split apart afterwards. Then the series highlights the research. One of the people, with assistance, does the detective work to track down the other. And at the end, usually, is a happy, emotional reunion. Curry’s interviews are highlighted all along the way, and she pulls at her subjects to get at the heart of their stories.
There have been a few tweaks to the formula, while the first season, for the most part, concentrated on one set of people and their stories, this season gives you two in each episode. Dave Johnson’s journey to reunite with Bruce Grable is interwoven with another Vietnam Vet, who wants to thank the surgeon that saved his leg in a field hospital. In another episode, two holocaust survivors seek to reunite with people they met and bonded with in the darkest events in human history. The history is engaging and the stories compelling.
Anyone who’s interested in history, and its impact on the people who lived through it, should be eager for the start of this new season.
Season Two of We’ll Meet Again with Ann Curry debuts on Tuesday, November 13th at 8:00 p.m. on KIXE Channel 9.