U.S. Army sergeant reunites with long lost family

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- Of all the soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, no one takes his army commitment more seriously than Peter Kuch. By all accounts, this 36-year-old sergeant does every drill -- tackles every task -- with the same undying devotion.

"I will do my job to the best of my ability until the last day I leave the Army," said Kuch. "I will always remember this is the country that I'm serving."

His love for this country began in a whole other world. As one of the "Lost Boys of Sudan," Kuch was torn from his parents during the Sudanese Civil War. At the age of 8, he and thousands of other children were forced to trek across the desert on their own. Many died along the way. The lucky ones, featured in a 2001 "60 Minutes" story, ended up at a refugee campus - and a few thousand very lucky ones were eventually allowed to come to the United States.

Peter got a job, worked his way through college, and then joined the Army as a thank you to America. As for his mom and dad, Kuch never saw them again.

smhartmanotrlost-boy0206frame279.jpg
Sgt. Peter Kuch
CBS News

"I was hoping, that's what I would say, I would say, 'God, I hope my parents are OK,'" Kuch told me. "And I kept that hope and faith for a long time."

Until just a few weeks, when the Army gave him some leave and a friend bought him a ticket to go back and see them. Kuch says his mom was so overwhelmed to see him, that she fainted.

"As soon as she saw me and we hugged each other she just collapsed on my hand," Kuch said. "After like a good three minutes then she came back up and she put her hand on my head and she started praying before she even said anything and she said, 'I knew all this time that God would bring you back to me.'"

Peter says for the rest of the stay they loved on him like a baby - and although he will return to see them again - he says he could never go back.

"America will always be my home regardless," Kuch said. "This is my home."

What's amazing to me about Kuch is that he spent weeks in the desert and didn't cry. He had friends dying next to him, and he didn't cry. But yet, when he started talking about America, he started crying.

smhartmanotrlost-boy0206frame773.jpg
Sgt. Peter Kuch
CBS News

"That's the one thing -- I love this country so much," Kuch said.

Sometimes you have to go full circle, to see how far you've come. Peter now has a 4-year-old boy with more hopes and dreams than he could have ever hoped or dreamed for - all here in the country, he just can't thank enough.

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, e-mail us.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.