Baby lost in war found at age 40


HANOI, AFP

A Vietnamese man has been reunited with his family 40 years after he was separated from his mother as a baby in a fierce battle near the river that then divided the country, his father said Thursday.

Nguyen Quang Son, then six months old, slipped from his mother’s grasp during an American B-52 bombing raid on the southern bank of the Ben Hai river that split the communist north from the US-backed south, his father said.

Amid the turmoil of the battle on May 19, 1967 which left hundreds of people dead, the mother was buried under rubble from a bomb blast but survived and was later taken to a clinic, recounted her 64-year-old husband Trinh Hoai Bac.

Unknown to the parents, the baby was rescued by North Vietnamese soldiers fighting in the so-called Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) of central Quang Tri province, the region most devastated by bombing in the war that ended in 1975.

The troops took the child across the river to the north, where he was given to a local woman and later adopted and raised by a nurse in Ha Tinh province. In the decades that followed, the parents searched in vain for Son.

“In 1980, we even set up a small altar and built a symbolic grave for him because we all thought he had died,” the father, Bac, a war invalid, told the AFP from Quang Tri province, 600 kilometers south of Hanoi.

Son, who learned at age 18 that he had been adopted, spent years retracing the events with the help of officials and veterans.

He finally succeeded after a resident near the riverside battle site remembered a mother had lost her baby there, said the father.

Last Sunday, the family celebrated a tearful reunion with Son, now a coffee grower who is married, with two children.

The father said: “We knew for sure he is our son because he has a beauty spot on his right eye and he looks a lot like his brother and three sisters.

“All of us were so moved. We really couldn’t believe that we found him. There are many war victims in the area, but we are the luckiest.”