US Vietnam War Veteran Searches for Long-lost Love and Son in Taiwan

US Vietnam War Veteran Searches for Long-lost Love and Son in Taiwan
US Vietnam War Veteran Harvey Woods (middle) and Kiko (right). Photo Credit:Taichung Info Exchange

A man, his lost love, and a son

Yesterday a Facebook post took the Taiwan expat groups by storm as users searched and shared on what could be a long-lost love connection.

African-American Harvey Woods was stationed at the Qingquan Airforce Base (清泉崗空軍基地) in Taichung from 1966 to 1967, during the early part of the Vietnam War. It was there that he met and fell in love with a Taiwanese lady whom he affectionately called,“Kiko.”

When Woods received orders to return to the United States he tried to bring Kiko with him to no avail. He soon lost contact with her, unable to locate Kiko even as he sent out ads on newspapers in Taichung in search for her. A year later a letter was sent to him from Kiko informing him of their son’s birth, but Wood’s mother soon destroyed the letter and return address for she wanted Woods to move on.

58 years later, Woods has renewed his search for Kiko and his son in fear that he would never see them again; she may be in her early 70s while his son would be in his late 40s.

Reactions on the Internet

After Woods’s daughter made the original post in a Taichung Facebook group, it became widely shared with a blog post created to help spread the story. It has appeared in other English-speaking Taiwan Facebook groups as well as Reddit. Advice on how to search for Kiko ranged from the popular online discussion platform PTT to looking up official government records.

According to the blog post, there have been no breakthroughs in the search so far.

A Chinese translation was done for non-English speakers to assist the search.

Ghosts of the past

Taiwan played a key role as a logistical and intelligence center for the United States from the outbreak of the Vietnam War in the 1960s amidst the backdrop of anti-communism. The island was also a popular destination for US troops seeking rest and recuperation (R&R).

The close military relationship that enabled the story of Harvey Woods to occur evolved into the current unofficial relationship between the United States and Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act created after de-normalization of relations in 1979.

In 2004, a documentary, “Hey Jimmy,” (黑吉米) focuses on the struggles of a Taiwanese of mixed heritage. The protagonist, Jimmy Liao Chih-Lung (廖枝龍), is the son of a African-American soldier and a Taiwanese mother who met in 1974. They lost contact a month before Liao was born in 1975.

A sequel was made four years later, partially funded by Taiwan’s Government Information Office, documenting Liao’s search for his father. Liao only knew his father’s middle name to be Morgan with a last name either being Steward or Stewart. It was from this connection that Liao also goes by James Morgan Steward. At that time he knew his father would be in his 60s, preferring to only know of his well being instead of meeting him in person.

The two-part series were displayed at several local and international film festivals to highlight family values and the issue of race in Taiwan.

Edited by Olivia Yang

“Director to shoot man’s search for his American dad" (Taipei Times)
Taichung Info Exchange Facebook page
Blog post on “Boston Paul"