Immigrant family returns to East Tennessee to say "thank you" 40 years later

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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Hinh family moved from place to place seeking refuge from a communist regime - but there was one place they had to come back to.

Richard Hinh has been going by that name for nearly 40 years. Before that though, he went by "Yao." Before that, "Huu."

"Because we came from Vietnam and we are Chinese, we have two [names] from back in those countries, and when we came to the United States, we [gained] another - so three together," he said.

Richard's family moved from China to Vietnam. After the Vietnam war, they came to the United States, seeking refuge from the country's communist regime.

"So they confiscated everything that my grandpa built up, and my father built up, over the years," said Richard. "They took everything away from us."

Trinity Presbyterian Church in Maryville sponsored the family and took them in. Elders, like Don McNelly, were able to arrange jobs for the parents while Richard and his sister, May, enrolled in Alcoa City Schools.

The family couldn't adjust to the East Tennessee weather, so they moved to California.

Over the years, though names and addresses changed - one thing lingered.

"I told my brother last year, I asked him, 'Wanna go, Wanna go?' I wanted to come back," said May.

They wanted to say "thank you" to their home in East Tennessee.

"They gave us love, they gave us food. I would say they gave us life," said Richard.

The family will spend the entire weekend catching up with old friends and teachers. Trinity will host a lunch for them at 12:00 p.m. Sunday.