Air Force Col. Bruce Hollywood always knew he was adopted, but it wasn’t until he had a heart attack in 2005, collapsing on his way into work at the Pentagon, that it became urgent he meet his birth mother.
Hollywood told The Washington Post he wanted to thank her for placing him with an American family in 1960. Before his adoptive mother died, she told Hollywood he should try to find his birth mom in Japan, even offering to pay for his flight, but he always said no. Now that he wanted to meet her, Hollywood kept running into roadblocks — the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo couldn’t track her down, and neither could the Japanese Embassy in Washington or a private investigator.
On his way to a conference, Hollywood met Adm. Harry Harris, and during their conversations, Hollywood mentioned his search. Harris said he’d help him, and 10 days later, the Japanese Embassy called and said they found his birth mother, Nobue Ouchi, and she was going to call him in 10 minutes. He rushed to find an interpreter and soon learned it was the day before Ouchi’s 65th birthday, and she had long dreamed of seeing her son again so she could show him her restaurant and bar, named Bruce. She knew his name because before Hollywood and his adoptive family left Japan, the mothers met, and Ouchi was given a photo of baby Bruce.
Ten days later, Hollywood was in Shizuoka, Japan, learning about his roots. The mother-son relationship blossomed, with Hollywood visiting Japan several times and Ouchi taking English lessons before her death in 2009. “I’ve got to tell you,” Hollywood told the Post. “If I didn’t live it, I almost wouldn’t believe it.” Catherine Garcia