Best friends and fellow soldiers John Pompa and Kevin Fischer went their separate ways after the Vietnam War.
Pompa, of Reynoldsburg, moved back to his hometown and worked at Anheuser Busch and for the Department of Defense. Fischer lived in Salt Lake City where he worked as a roofer before moving to Elyria with his wife, Kathy.
But Pompa couldn’t get his mind off of Fischer, whom he tried to find after leaving the service in the 1970s.
Pompa was able to find Fischer a couple years ago on a website for the Americal Division in which both men served, but a variety of medical issues prevented him from making the two-hour drive to Elyria.
On Saturday, he decided to take his motorcycle out and make the trip.
“I told my wife, I don’t know what it is, but he’s been on my mind and I just have to see him,” he said.
Fischer said he was shocked to get the phone call from Pompa, who asked if he could visit.
“I’m still in shock,” he said.
Kathy Fischer said her husband, who has Parkinson’s disease and difficulty remembering some details, didn’t talk much about the war with Pompa, but then, he never does.
Both Pompa and Fischer have post traumatic stress disorder and a variety of other medical issues stemming from their time in the service.
During Fischer’s service, he accrued a number of awards, including a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal, among others. Kathy Fischer said the medals are kept at their son’s home, because her husband doesn’t like to look at them.
“It was real bad for everyone over there,” Pompa said of the war. “I don’t talk about certain things, because I don’t want to upset (Fischer).”
Kevin Fischer said despite some painful memories the visit may have brought on, he was happy to see Pompa, who he considered his best friend in the Army.
“He just hugged and hugged him,” Kathy said of the meeting.
Pompa, who said the two “hit it off,” didn’t think Fischer would remember him, so he brought an old picture of the two together.
Pompa also met Fischer’s sister, who he said he used to write to in the war.
“Kathy had called her and said, ‘You’re never going to believe who’s here,’” he said, laughing.
Pompa said the two-hour drive to Elyria was well worth it, and the old friends are planning another visit soon.
“Oh yeah, I’m going to take my wife up next time,” he said.
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.