Wartime letters lead to lifetime of love

These old letters are a trip back in time for Suzie and Wayne Wing. The letters date back to...
These old letters are a trip back in time for Suzie and Wayne Wing. The letters date back to 1967, when Wayne was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam.(KFYR-TV)
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 2:44 PM CST
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KILLDEER, N.D. (KFYR) - Handwritten letters have become a lost art. In this digital age, most of us just send an email or a text or rely on video calls to keep in touch with people.

But one Killdeer couple says handwritten letters were what led them to each other and to 51 years of marriage. These old letters are a trip back in time for Suzie and Wayne Wing.

“I’ve thought about you so much,” read Suzie from a letter dated July 26, 1971.

Suzie and Wayne’s letters date back to 1967. Wayne was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam.

“I ended up being a generator operator,” recalled Wayne.

His sergeant sent a letter to his hometown newspaper in Texas asking people to write to men in his unit.

“My girlfriend and I decided ‘let’s write and just see what happens,’” said Suzie.

Suzie’s letters originally went to Sam McClusky. When she sent a picture of herself, Wayne asked if he could write her back.

“The good Lord just made me do it,” said Wayne with a smile.

Wayne and Suzie exchanged letters the whole time he was in Vietnam.

“It was just something to do,” said Wayne.

The letters continued when he spent a year at Travis Air Base in California. When Wayne got out of the service, he made a detour to Texas to see Suzie before returning to his family’s North Dakota ranch.

“I wanted to go home and be a rancher,” he said.

Suzie moved to Georgia and the two lost touch. One day, Suzie decided to try and find Wayne. She sent a letter addressed to Wayne Wing in Killdeer, South Dakota.

“I sent that letter with no zip code, no nothing. I just wrote it to Killdeer, South Dakota!” she recalled with a laugh. “And he got it. Now, if that ain’t a sign from God saying we’re supposed to be together, I don’t know what is.”

“It’s Killdeer, N.D. Don’t they have maps in Georgia?” Wayne read from the letter he wrote back to Suzie then.

Wayne said Suzie’s letter was the answer to a prayer.

“I had prayed that if Suzie was still available, I’d like to find her. I prayed for that. And the next day I got that letter,” he said.

“We just kept writing and it wasn’t a mushy kind of lovey-dovey story. We were friends, just good friends and easy to talk to,” added Suzie.

But Wayne knew he and Suzie were more than just pen pals.

“When I got that letter, I knew we were going to get married. I just had a feeling,” he said.

Wayne spent Christmas of 1971 visiting Suzie. A few months later, Suzie lost her job and decided to move to North Dakota.

“I had never been on a ranch. I didn’t know the difference between a horse and a cow,” she admitted.

But she knew she and Wayne were meant to be together. Suzie moved to North Dakota in March of 1972. A month later, she and Wayne were married.

“It was meant to be,” said Wayne. “I’ve always thought that.”

“For everything that went on between us to get us married, it was God’s work,” said Suzie.

Fifty-one years later, they’re still just as in love as they were then. Their love story is written here, in these letters. Letters that are a reminder of what made them fall in love in the first place.

Suzie and Wayne say they’ve tried to find Sam McClusky several times over the years but haven’t had any luck. All they know is that he was originally from Missouri.

If they could find him, they say they just want to thank him for letting Wayne write to Suzie.