Reuniting Hearts

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When David Martin Davis of Enterprise, Mississippi, left Vietnam in 1971, his Vietnamese girlfriend and their daughter, Tina, stayed behind.

The pair immigrated to the United States a few years ago. Tina, now 32 and a resident of Kansas City, began a search for her father. That's where Debbie Wynne came in.

"Tina has a nail shop. She does my nails and I'm one of her customers and she had talked to me about it," said Wynne, who wanted to help her friend find her father.

Davis' letters to Vietnam 30 years ago had a Meridian postmark. So Wynne called Meridian's chief administrative officer, Ken Storms.

Last week Davis was found living in Enterprise. Tina and her husband, three children, her mother, and Wynne arrived in Meridian Thursday morning for the reunion.

"I feel very excited," said Tina Nguyen. "It is very important for me and I love this day and I feel like I never forget this day for me."

"He leave for America. I no can see him no more. Now I can see him. I'm very happy for my daughter," said Tina's mother, Bac Dong.

They waited nervously in the lobby of the Comfort Inn in Meridian. After 30 years, the moment came at last. "Lord have mercy," said Davis, as he shook hands with his son-in-law for the first time and bear-hugged his daughter, after a three-decade wait.

Davis has no other children. He couldn't wait to hug his newfound granddaughter and grandsons, Cathy, Nicholas and Kevin.

To Davis, it was more than he ever thought it could be. But the instant love between father and daughter was obvious.

"I only regret not being there when she was growing up," said Davis.

"I'm here now, Dad," said Nguyen. "I'm here now."

Winn Dixie sent over 30 roses, one for each year father and daughter had been apart. But Tina had bought her father her own present.

"I feel that without this picture, I would never find my father again. So I kept it for all that because that's the only picture I had of my father," Tina said.

The photograph shows a young David Martin Davis with Tina, who was still in diapers.

After 30 years the long search was over.

"You have a big family now, Dad," said Tina. "Me and Kahn, your
son-in-law, and your three beautiful grandchildren. They're all here
with you now."