Local Air Force veteran seeks long-lost pen pal
This Veteran’s Day, a Brockport woman who served in the Air Force has one wish. She wants to find the little girl - her pen pal from Rochester - who helped change her life.
Sharon Chaplain was 19 and, admittedly, naive when she joined the Air Force. It was her first time away from home and she was sent to South Korea. “I wasn’t brave at all," recalls Chaplain.
Soon, the U.S. was at war 7,000 miles away in Kuwait.
Sharon was confused and began to think she was foolish to join the Air Force.
Like many service members during Operation Desert Storm, Chaplain began receiving letters from strangers supporting the military, but writers were disappointed to learn she was in South Korea and not the Middle East.
Only one person wrote back: A little girl from Rochester, New York which was also Sharon's hometown. “I read the letter and thought, 'This is completely different than what I’m getting.' More than the letters, it was pictures, and I thought, 'I’m going to have write to her and at least say thank you, because she didn’t have to do that and she’s little”, said Chaplain.
Pen pals were born: The scared, cynical airman and the curious, polite little girl. Chaplain says her young blond-haired pen pal was her connection at home. “She was asking me so many questions such as ‘What is Korea like?’” recalled Chaplain.
She worked to write letters that didn't scare her pen pal with war talk and her negativity. Chaplain says, “Through that process, I realized things could be a whole worse. I could be in Iraq. I could be holding a gun living in a tent. I’m relatively safe."
Sharon was eventually transferred to Florida and the letters stopped, but she never forgot them. Now, 27 years later, Sharon is hoping to reconnect with the little girl who shaped the woman she became.
“She probably doesn’t realize that some letters she wrote, I’m still talking about her 20 years later. Now that I’ve raised my own child, I’m thinking what a great person to raise a human to do something like. Not everyone will write a letter to a service member and keep writing letters,” said Chaplain.
The only thing Sharon has is her pen pal’s picture.
She hopes it will lead to that girl, now a woman in her mid-30s. Sharon has a final message she'd like to deliver in person. “I would say thank you," she said.
If that little girl looks familiar to you, please email us at ‘News@13wham.com’. We will share it with Sharon so those two pen pals can reconnect.