INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Franklin College graduate Zach Whitcomb moved to Japan last summer to teach English.
He was in Kuji, a town a few hours north of Tokyo, when the quake hit.
His parents, John and Terri Whitcomb, said Friday was easily the worst day of their lives.
"There on the Google homepage, big red letters, earthquake and tsunami, 8.9 on the Richter Scale," John Whitcomb recalled. "I thought, 'Oh my goodness.'"
When he heard about the quake, Whitcomb said he immediately realized that's exactly where his son was.
"I ran and said, 'Honey we've got to start praying,'" he said.
The tsunami hit Kuji, knocking out all communication.
On Friday, the frantic parents called, sent texts and Facebook messaged their son, desperate to hear from him.
Then they heard through a Facebook group that Zach was OK.
But his ordeal wasn't over.
"Almost immediately we got another message that said Zach left on foot to go find Georgia, who's his girlfriend," Terri Whitcomb said. "She was in a town that was about four miles south of him, and all the roads were impassable, so he was walking."
When Zach reached the town 20 hours later, police wouldn't let him through.
"Finally he sees a battalion of Japanese soldiers walking in, pulls his hat down, gets in line, marches right in the city with them," John said.
"When he finally found Georgia, she was actually cutting tablecloths to use to cover bodies." Terri said.
Then, on Saturday, John and Terri got the message they'd been waiting for.
"I yelled, ‘There's an email from Zach,'" Terri said. "At first I just couldn't believe that it was really real."
Terri read the letter to 24-Hour News 8.
"Hey guys. First time I have internet. I am safe. I spent the last 20 hours trying to find Georgia, and after much walking and much walking, found her. I am safe and sound. I will call as soon as possible. I love you. I am safe, so no worries."
Saturday evening, Terri and John finally heard his voice.
"Best minute ever," John said.
"I couldn't quit crying," Terri said. "At first, he was saying, 'Breathe, mom, breathe, it's ok, I'm alright.'"
Zach said he plans to stay in Japan to help rebuild.
In the meantime, his parents said they'll visit him this summer.
As far as the other Franklin graduate in Kuji, school officials said he is safe.
His name has not been released.
UPDATE 9:00 P.M.: Rain is moving through the southwestern part of central Indiana. The showers are moving northeast towards Indianapolis.
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