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March 13, 2007


Mai in a beautiful dress
Mai at Phan Rang Airbase, circa 1966

Return To Vietnam

Mai Mclean had just turned 17 when she married an American soldier she met while working at an air base near her village in Vietnam.  He was the first person who ever showed her any kindness. Mai left her village with her new husband. But leaving her mother was particularly wrenching.

And it was really dusty. It was a dry season.  It was February.  I can remember seeing her run behind the jeep, with all the dust on her. And the jeep going faster and faster…and the smaller she looked. That was the last time I saw her.
- Mai Mclean

Mai arrived in winter to her new home in upstate New York, facing bitter cold and unwelcoming in-laws.  Mai faithfully sent money to her family in Vietnam every month until her husband abandoned her and she had to work 3 jobs to support her children. 

Years later, she learned that none of the money she sent ever reached her family and that they were angry at her for apparently having forgotten them. 

Recently, and for the first time in 40 years, Mai Mclean returned to her village in Vietnam to reconnect with the family and country she left behind.


Spring Is Coming by Khac Chi Ensemble for the album Moonlight in Vietnam. Mua Lua Chin by Pham duc Thanh for the album Vietnamese Traditional Music.

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