Danish pop star Zindy feels the love of a long-lost Vietnam War veteran father

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Danish pop star Zindy Laursen meets her long-lost father, U.S. Army veteran Bill Johnson, for the first time in Louisiana on Jan. 26, 2022. (Zindy Laursen)

Danish pop star Zindy Laursen’s new release, ‘The Two of Us,’ due out this month, is the coda, she said, of a decade of searching for the father she never had. never known, an American veteran of the Vietnam War.

Laursen, 50, known simply as Zindy in Denmark, wrote the song for her father, Bill Johnson, 72, of Baker, Louisiana, after a DNA test in November revealed the veteran army was actually his father.

Johnson, a retired police captain, met Zindy’s mother, Viviann, during 10 days of rest and recuperation in Sydney in October 1970. He served with the Army’s 282nd Assault Helicopter Company , based in Danang, Vietnam, he told Stars and Stripes by phone on Wednesday.

He returned to the United States after his year-long tour, never knowing he had fathered a daughter in Australia.

“It’s a story about never giving up and never giving up on hope,” Zindy told the Stars and Stripes by phone Wednesday. The couple first met face to face last month when Zindy visited Baker for Johnson’s birthday.

“It was the best birthday present a person could receive when they hugged their dad for the first time,” Johnson said. “She kept calling me daddy and it was very exciting. I could feel the love coming from her and my love going to her. It’s just been a good year 2022 for me.

Zindy is Johnson’s only biological child, he said.

Danish pop star Zindy Laursen meets her long-lost father, U.S. Army veteran Bill Johnson, for the first time in Louisiana on January 26, 2022.

Danish pop star Zindy Laursen meets her long-lost father, U.S. Army veteran Bill Johnson, for the first time in Louisiana on Jan. 26, 2022. (Zindy Laursen)

Pop star Zindy Laursen is known in Denmark as Zindy.  She searched over 30 years to find out the identity of her father, who turned out to be an American veteran of the Vietnam War.

Pop star Zindy Laursen is known in Denmark as Zindy. She searched over 30 years to find out the identity of her father, who turned out to be an American veteran of the Vietnam War. (Anne-Sofie Hjort)

Pop star Zindy Laursen is known in Denmark as Zindy.  She searched over 30 years to find out the identity of her father, who turned out to be an American veteran of the Vietnam War.

Pop star Zindy Laursen is known in Denmark as Zindy. She searched over 30 years to find out the identity of her father, who turned out to be an American veteran of the Vietnam War. (Bjorn Vido)

Zindy grew up in the small fishing town of Esbjerg, Denmark, she said. His mother was a go-go dancer in Australia during the war and often befriended American servicemen on leave. Zindy grew up imagining that mysterious American GI her mother met dancing.

During her formative years, Zindy, being mixed-race, struggled with her racial identity, she recalls. She was nicknamed the N-word and bullied and teased by children at school. Inspired by Prince, she started playing music, she said, and wrote her first song at 15.

In 1992, Zindy was a finalist for the chance to represent Denmark in the Eurovision Song Contest. She was then spotted by record labels. Since then, she’s toured the world, performed on stage and screen, and sold more than 2 million records, according to her website.

Despite her success, she never stopped looking for her father. She had all but given up hope when last year she met Brian Hjort who was queuing for a coronavirus test at a gymnasium in Copenhagen. Hjort started Father Founded, a reunification group, after a trip to Vietnam in 1992. He recognized Zindy and offered to help.

Zindy submitted a DNA sample to Ancestry.com because of her access to a military records warehouse, she said. Hjort went to Zindy in November with some news.

He asked Zindy to cover her eyes, she recalled. When she opened them, she found herself face to face with a photo of her father.

“I cried,” she laughs. “I thought to myself, ‘Is this my father? After all these years, can this really happen to me?’ »

Zindy’s next thought was to call Johnson right away, she said. Hjort suggested that his organization make the first contact; learning that they conceived a child so long ago can come as a shock to someone, he said.

“At first I thought it was a scam,” Johnson said.

But then he saw Zindy on a video call. The resemblance was uncanny. And the DNA test he submitted matched 99.9%.

“I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s my daughter! ‘” Johnson said.

Zindy was impressed to learn that Johnson, too, had risen from poverty to become the first African-American police officer in Zachary, Louisiana, a town of about 20,000 people just outside of Baton Rouge. He has coached youth sports and run anti-drug programs.

The couple hit it off immediately, singing and laughing together. Both look alike, look alike, and exhibit similar personality traits.

Johnson hosted a barbecue for Zindy’s visit in January. She met her large extended family and brought Johnson to tears as she sang “Happy Birthday.” Now they talk on the phone almost every day.

Johnson then plans to visit Zindy in Denmark to see where she grew up.

“It’s a miracle from God that Zindy came into my life and the life of my family,” Johnson said. “I plan to continue sharing my love for the rest of my life for her.”

“I will always love my dad for sure,” Zindy replied. “It was a dream come true.”

author's picture

Matthew M. Burke

Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Naval Base Sasebo and Marine Corps Air Base Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.



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