FERRIER FILES: Man never quits on finding dad, reunites after 50 years in Cookeville
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) —
Hugh Nguyen was one of 25,000 Vietnamese children born to United States servicemen, the communists hated these Amerasians.
Hugh was tall and light skinned and light eyed and he had no dad, at least that's what he thought. When his pregnant south Vietnamese mom came to the base to find the father, the soldiers there said he was dead.
Things were so bad, so poor, that Hugh’s grandmother signed him up for Operation Babylift, a large-scale program to get Vietnamese kids to the U.S.
Eventually Hugh and his sister moved to the United States, where he flourished. Currently he is the first Amerasian county clerk recorder elected in the United States serving 3.2 million people in Orange County.
Hugh has a beautiful and close family, but no dad and that always hurt.
So he went to Ancestry.com and he got a match for a second cousin named Sherry Stokes. He emailed her asking, "Do you know who my dad might be???"
She did, the only one in the family to be in Vietnam at the time.
Roy Patterson, Hugh's dad, first thought it was a joke when approached with the news.
“I asked when and where were you born," Patterson said. "The place and the time frame matched up, so it was time for me to step up and find the truth."
Roy had to tell his wife, his kids and his church that he might have a son. And it turned out to be true, this meant that Patterson was never there - for anything,
"It was shocking to say the least, it breaks my heart, because I didn't know,” Patterson said.
Roy and Hugh talked on the phone and agreed to take a DNA test. When the results came back, it was a match.
“That was an amazing day," Hugh said. "My wife and daughter and I cried in our backyard of our house when I saw the result. I called Roy he was super happy and excited. He found in his heart I was his son.”
Saturday in Cookeville, Hugh and his family met the rest of his family. Between his brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and cousins, there was a whole roomful. They told their story in church on Sunday and for the rest of their lives.
Roy has already planned two trips to California for birthdays.
“Its been wonderful. I believe in a sovereign God, I believe all this has worked together and I am thankful we found each other and we have a relationship,” Patterson said.
And Hugh, who already had a great family, a great job and a great life finds out at the unlikely age of 50 he has something else: a dad who loves him, who is proud of him and wants to be in his life, for the rest of his life.
Hugh urges other Amerasian kids, all middle-aged now, to not give up, to keep searching for your family and you just might just find them.