American vet says finding lost Thai love ‘a Christmas miracle’

At left, William Bruce in a September photo. At right, one of his 1969 photos with Pacharee “Tim” Kaewsorn. Photos: William Bruce / Facebook, Courtesy
At left, William Bruce in a September photo. At right, one of his 1969 photos with Pacharee “Tim” Kaewsorn. Photos: William Bruce / Facebook, Courtesy

The 79-year-old U.S. army vet whose long-shot search for a woman he met in 1969 paid off thanks to the power of the internet said the two have now spoken and hope to meet – after the pandemic.

Californian William Bruce described his conversation with Pacharee “Tim” Kaewsorn, who turned out to be living in the U.S. state of Florida, as “somewhat emotional.”

“[T]his was truly a Christmas miracle and a wish come true,” he said via email. “Right now we’re trying to process all the events of life that passed during that five decades period of time.”

Found! American vet’s long-lost Thai love is alive and well

He said they hope to meet once the pandemic ends due to its risk at their advanced age.

Bruce had been an army doctor based in Korat at the height of the U.S.-Vietnam war in 1969 when he met a woman named “Mai” on a brief trip to Chiang Mai. A whirlwind romance ensued but, after two weeks, he was ordered to Laos following an attack that had killed several of his peers.

Four days after Coconuts published a story about his search on Dec. 15, which was picked up and translated by a number of Thai-language platforms, a woman identifying herself as Pacharee’s niece reached out to say she believed it was her aunt. Chaigit “Tarnia” Wilke said she remembered seeing one of the photos in the article at her grandmother’s home in Thailand. She said her aunt confirmed the story, telling her Mai was the name she used for English-speakers.

Bruce said he was stunned to find her.

“I had to sit down and think and ponder what just happened,” he said. Then I knew that it was your magical journal piece that caught the eye of the reader and resulted in enough interest to continue reading the article and discover the photograph.”

He said it was amazing that his improbable search – with only old photographs and the wrong name to go on – came to resolution so quickly.

“Think about what just happened. All you had was an old photograph no name and an event and time some 50 years ago and yet to find this person in this massive 8 billion people on this planet and she could be anywhere or not even alive,” he added.

So what does Pacharee think of all this? We’d love to know.

Chaigit said she would provide contact information for her aunt once she had spoken to Bruce but has since declined to do so. Bruce has also declined to provide her contact information. After going public with his search, he is now asking for “privacy.”

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Found! American vet’s long-lost Thai love is alive and well

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