The outpouring of ideas and reactions to the story about Thu Thi Vo (Covey) was tremendous. There were comments on VWK as well as email messages that people sent. We mounted a virtual group effort to help Thu Thi’s brother reunite with her, and I wanted to update you on what has been going on.
Wendy did some research and located a Karen Covey via Facebook. The woman looked like she could be of partial Asian descent but a little young for someone who may have been born in the late 1960s. I reached out to Karen in late January and never heard back.
Then I received a message from Justin. His wife, a reader of VWK, prompted him to look into the matter. Justin found a Social Security Death Index record of a person named “Thu Thi Vo” who passed away in 2007. She was 81 years old. She last lived in San Bernardino, which is east of Los Angeles (not far from San Diego).
Her brother Minh Hung Vo thought that his sister would be in her 70s by now so this woman may not have been her. That said, sometimes people alter their age when they enter the US so this woman could have been her. Justin and I hoped not as no one wants to be the bearer of bad news.
I have forwarded the information to my contact in Vietnam to convey to Minh and await a response. It’s hard to determine whether or not the brother could match the information – aside from the birthday – with his missing sister. A number of you had found a Thu Thi Vo with an address in San Bernardino. That is the person that Justin likely found via the Social Security Death Index. (Can I pause here to tell you incredibly awesome and smart you all are?)
I had no idea about the SSDI and found a portal via Ancestry.com. I’ve never looked up death information before as my family’s ancestral line in America runs rather short; we all got here in 1975 or so.
Giovanna and Tuyet took up finding “Thu Thi Covey”. Giovanna reported that initially it was easy to find someone by that name on PeopleFinder.com. However when she went back to pay for the full search, the name didn’t turn up as many leads. Strange. (I regretted not getting more information from the brother when I met him in Vietnam.)
A resident of San Diego, Tuyet volunteered to do the groundwork. Tuyet went all out and followed every lead possible, looking up addresses, visiting the San Diego office of records, etc. She tried the surname of Carman too. She turned up no related records. Giovanna, Tuyet and I huddled on this for a good week and unfortunately, there were only dead ends.
As a ray of hope, Hector related his personal experience via a comment on the original post:
this story really hits home with me and my family. my mother came to the US and when the north took over, my grandmother burned all information she had in regards to my mother and my aunt who also came to the US. in 1987 a woman who had immigrated to New Mexico went back to Vietnam, and my grandmother approached her and asked her if she could help find my mom. the woman agreed to ask anyone she knew, but was not very hopeful. my grandmother sent a picture with her of my mom, and the woman went back to New Mexico. This woman's husband was a US vet. at this time my mom,s childhood friend had planned to come to Arizona to visit my mom, her husband decided to visit one of his old army buddies on the way. his buddy lived in New Mexico. when the two ladies met, the woman from new mexico told my mom's friend about my grandmother's story, and figured she would show her the picture. my mother's friend took one look at the picture and told the woman that she knew the girl in the picture and was in fact on her way to visit her. my mom's friend came to Arizona, and told my mom the whole story, and was able to get back in touch with my grandmother. this connection was done before the internet, before cell phones, and all the tech that we have today. it makes me happy to see everyone trying to help out.
So at this juncture, all we can say is that Thu Thi Vo likely changed her name a few times, and perhaps may have passed away. People who have been separated by war and upheaval have found ways to reconnect with one another. Over the years, my parents have reunited with relatives and friends that they thought they’d lost contact with.
It is sad that Minh Hung hasn’t been able to find his sister. We’ve tried the best that we can, and I greatly appreciate your collective thoughtfulness in this project. If there’s a sudden development in the future, I will definitely let you know.