A 79-year-old U.S. army vet searching for the Thai woman he loved and lost five decades ago may be in for a Christmas surprise.
Though William Bruce had little beyond the nickname Mai and photos to go on, a woman contacted Coconuts Bangkok today to say she recognized her aunt in our story about his search.
“I saw a full-body photo, and remembered I saw it when I was a kid at my grandma’s house in Thailand,” Chaigit “Tarnia” Wilke said.
But her nickname wasn’t Mai, and her aunt lives neither in Chiang Mai – where Bruce met her – nor Korat – where they had a brief, whirlwind romance – but somewhere much closer to his home in California.
“I called my aunt in Florida and she asked where her photo came from,” Tarnia said.
Her aunt said it was indeed her in the photo. Mai was the nickname she used working as a tour guide when she met Bruce – a name easier for farang.
Her real name? Pacharee “Tim” Kaewsorn. She was a teacher in Chiang Mai.
Patcharee could remember Bruce, referring to him as Dr. William, and confirmed his version of events. She said they lost contact when he was suddenly called away from Korat on urgent orders, according to Chaigit.
Like Bruce, she was also happily married – she married an American airman about 40 years ago, but he has since passed away.
Coconuts Bangkok could not immediately reach Bruce or Pacharee for comment.
The next step is for them to speak, which Chaigit is working to facilitate.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Patcharee was still married; in fact, she is a widow.