Archive for U.S. Army

A Solemn Thank You.

Posted in IV. Columns with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2018 by Ian Pham

Vietnamese Memorial(Breitbart)

Hello All,

I’ll be honest here. I tried writing a few feature pieces for this April 30th, but none of it panned out. I wanted to do something big, bit off more than I can chew, and simply didn’t have enough time to make it good enough to share. There are certain standards that I hold myself to as a writer, and I would not put anything out unless I believe it was good enough. This is even more so on Black April, a solemn day of mourning and commemoration for a nation lost. I wanted to do a lot for this day, but in the end, this year, I came up empty.

But, it didn’t feel right to say nothing. I have to say something. How could I not?

And so, with no research or notes on hand, or a poem, or anything, all I got is what is on my mind right now, right this minute, and the only thing I can say is this:

Thank you.

Thank you to all the heroes who fought, bled, and died to defend the freedom of the South Vietnamese people and their nation. This goes out to all of the veterans. South Vietnamese veterans, American veterans, and all of our friends and allies who laid down their lives and made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom and independence. To all of the heroes, living or dead, I thank you. We thank you, and pledge to never let your sacrifices be forgotten.

I also want to thank the Boat People refugees, the Children of the South, who took that leap of faith, and faced the vast and mighty Ocean in the pursuit of freedom. To everyone who made that impossible choice to depart from Vietnam after the communist takeover, braving unthinkable danger, and enduring unspeakable pain and suffering, all for that beautiful idea, freedom, I thank you. Without you, there would be no us. Without you, there would be no hope. So thank you. Thank you for keeping it all alive. The legacy, the heritage, the roots of the Vietnamese people, all of it lives on to this day, because of you. Thank you, for giving us something that we can never repay. We will carry it with us, and pass it on to future generations, so that it may live on. Forever.

Lastly, I want to thank all the nations of the free world who took in the Boat People refugees. To the countries that took us all in, at a time when we had nothing, we thank you. You gave us freedom, you gave us hope, you gave us strength, and you gave us a future. You gave us a home. And, like the gift that the Boat People refugees have given to the future generations, we can never repay the gift that the nations of the free world have given to us all. But, we will try, every minute, every second, of every day to make the most of that gift that you have given us: Freedom. Thank you America. Thank you Canada. Thank you Australia. And thank you to all the nations of the free world who took us in and made us your own. Your kindness and compassion will never be forgotten.

And to you, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and musings, and thank you for standing with me, as a proud, freedom-loving Vietnamese person. What’s more, thank you for keeping the South Vietnamese legacy alive. We are all in this together, and one day, Vietnam will be free again. Thank you for fighting the good fight.

Thank you.

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Viet X. Luong: The South Vietnamese Kid Who Grew Up to Be a U.S. Army General

Posted in I. News, Inspirational People, IV. Columns with tags , , , , , , on June 1, 2017 by Ian Pham

Viet X. Luong Viet X. Luong gets promoted from Colonel to Brig. General of the U.S. Army in a ceremony on August 6, 2014 at Fort Hood, Texas. (Bryan Correira / NBC News)

Luong Xuan Viet, or Viet Xuan Luong in American vernacular, was only nine years old when he came to the United States as a South Vietnamese refugee (Bowman, 2015). Today, he holds the reigning achievement of being the first-ever Vietnamese-born person to reach the rank of Brig. General in the U.S. Army (Ghandi, 2014). Currently, he is stationed in South Korea, acting as the Deputy Commanding General of the Eighth Army of the United States (United States, 2017).

His story begins like so many of ours.

It was late April 1975, in the dying days of the Vietnam War. The Republic of Vietnam was on the verge of collapse, and like so many other South Vietnamese at the time, Viet’s family was frantically planning to evacuate the dying country.

During the last days of the war, Viet’s father, a marine in the South Vietnamese Army, called an emergency family meeting. There, it was decided that the Luong family would depart Vietnam before the communist takeover. Following a harrowing excursion to Tan Son Nhut Air Base, which involved sightings of communist artillery fire, Viet and his family entered a Marine helicopter and flew out to the Pacific. Eventually, the Luong family would land on the USS Hancock aircraft carrier, where Viet recalls his father telling him, “… nothing in the world can harm you now,” (Bowman, 2015).

Standing on the wide deck of that American aircraft carrier, Viet found his life’s calling (Hood, 2014). “I knew right back then that I wanted to serve our country,” Viet said (Bowman, 2015).

After becoming settled in Southern California with his family, Viet would come of age and steadily follow in his father’s footsteps (Hood, 2014).

As an undergrad at the University of Southern California, Viet joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (Bowman, 2015). During his time in the ROTC (1983-1987), he was the only cadet from an ethnic background (Garsema, 2016). Upon graduation, he joined the U.S. Army, and so began his professional military career (Bowman, 2015).

Through patience, hard work, and determination, Viet rose through the ranks of the U.S. Army to become the first Vietnamese-born ever to reach the level of general officer.

This historical moment took place on August 6, 2014, at Fort Hood, Texas, where Colonel Viet X. Luong’s uniform was pinned with the star of an Army Brigadier General (Japanese American Veterans Association, 2014).

As Brigadier General, Luong led the American training effort in Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan, as Deputy Commander of the First Cavalry Division. This training prepared the Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban (Bowman, 2015).

In March 2016, General Luong become the Chief of Staff of U.S. Army Central (United States, 2016).

Earlier this year, in May of 2017, General Luong was assigned to South Korea as the Deputy Commanding General of Operations for the Eighth Army (United States, 2017).

Viet X. Luong’s story, his successful and still-growing military career, and his many personal victories and achievements are an inspiration for Vietnamese people everywhere, inside and outside of Vietnam. He is part of the South Vietnamese legacy, representing the struggle, hard work, and dedication of all Vietnamese people who love freedom, country, and family. His story is our story, and that story is the story of the freedom-loving Vietnamese people.

In the words of Luong himself, “As a Vietnamese American, and as an immigrant, I am a symbol of democracy, of freedom, of justice, of our constitution… I live every day trying to live up to the honor and prestige of one of the owners of that,” (Ghandi, 2014).

Viet X. LuongIn 2015, Brig. General Luong led the U.S. training of Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban. (David Gilkey / NPR)

General Viet X. Luong is a role model, not just for the Vietnamese community around the world, but for people everywhere.

Thank you for leading by example, General Luong, and thank you for your service.

 

Sources:

Bowman, Tom. “The Frightened Vietnamese Kid Who Became A U.S. Army General.” April 30, 2015. NPR. Accessed May 31, 2017. http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/04/30/403082804/the-frightened-vietnamese-kid-who-became-a-u-s-army-general.

“Colonel Viet Xuan Luong Promoted to Flag Rank.” August 15, 2014. Japanese American Veterans Association. Accessed May 31, 2017. http://javadc.org/news/press-release/army-brigadier-general-viet-xuan-luong/.

Garsema, Emily. “USC Alum, An Army Brigadier General, Shares His Tale of Success With Cadets.” April 1, 2016. USC News. Accessed May 31, 2017. https://news.usc.edu/97768/usc-alum-an-army-brigadier-general-shares-his-tale-of-success-with-cadets/.

Ghandi, Lakshmi. “U.S. Military Promotes First Vietnamese-American General.” August 11, 2014. NBC News. Accessed May 31, 2017. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/u-s-military-promotes-first-vietnamese-american-general-n177936.

Hood, David. “Southern California Man is First Vietnamese-Born General in U.S. Military.” August 18, 2014. The Orange County Register. Accessed May 31, 2017. http://www.ocregister.com/2014/08/18/southern-california-man-is-first-vietnamese-born-general-in-us-military/.

United States. “General Officer Assignments, Release No: NR-088-16.” March 15, 2016. U.S. Department of Defense. Accessed May 31, 2017. https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/694035/general-officer-assignments/.

United States. “General Officer Assignments, Release No: NR-156-17.” March 15, 2016. U.S. Department of Defense. Accessed May 31, 2017. https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1168558/general-officer-assignments/.