Emotions run high as vets return from D.C.


Vietnamese daughter finds father after 47 years

vets homecoming 5


Bellefontaine resident Randy Erwin is joined by Lien Nguyen, a daughter he never knew he had, during the Sunday evening closing ceremony of the Vets to D.C. trip. Nguyen, now 47 and an American citizen living in Buffalo, N.Y., located her long-lost father through ancestry searches earlier this year and has only recently connected with her father. (EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)





Emotions were high Sunday evening as two charter buses of veterans rolled back into Bellefontaine after a weekend visit to the military monuments and cemeteries of Washington, D.C.

Families waited with banners and signs and cheered as the buses made their way back through Bellefontaine and onto the Logan County Fairgrounds.

Amid the crowd, a 47-year-old woman had traveled all the way from Buffalo, N.Y., to see the buses come back.

Lien Nguyen only recently learned the identity of her father and wanted to be present for the special moment when Bellefontaine resident and Marine Corps veteran Randy Erwin got off the bus from the Vets to D.C. trip.

“This is very special to me to know I have a dad and I can be here with him,” Nguyen, who was born in Vietnam in 1970, but never knew her parents. Her mother died when she was just 10 months old and she was treated poorly as an orphan with American traits. “This is such a small town, but to see how many people come out for this. That gave me a goosebump. I feel very welcoming here.”

In the early 1990s, Nguyen and her husband were able to migrate to the United States and she has since opened her own nail salon, Luv-Lee Nails in Buffalo. All the while, she continued to search for her father, hiring private investigators and performing genealogical research.

She was able to make a breakthrough last year after completing an Ancestry.com DNA test and discovering a possible first cousin named Jennifer Powers, who is one of Erwin’s nieces. The daughter was able to make contact with her father and they confirmed the result through an independent paternity test.

“It’s a long road of searching,” she said. “But now I am here. I am so proud to have a dad who is a veteran.”

“This has just been an amazing experience for me all around,” the veteran said as he fought back his own tears.


Complete story and more photos in Monday's Examiner
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