MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
I was born in Cape Cod. My parents were both from Vietnam. They came over here during the Vietnam War. They had it pretty rough like most families coming from Vietnam during the war.
I grew up in the outskirts of Boston, in Chelsea, Mass. It was a little bit of a rough area growing up. I hung out with the wrong crowd. I got into bad situations. I was stealing cars and robbing people; things I shouldn’t have been doing. That’s what made me realize I needed to grow up and be a man. I was locked up in Boston and in Philly doing the wrong things.
My mom would always come through and get me, but she always had this look of disappointment. It was the worst feeling. In Asian culture, letting your parents down is one of the worst things. The family would talk about it. I was the black sheep in the family.
Looking back on it now, I regret a lot of things that I’ve done, but it gives me perspective on life. I’ve learned so much since then.
After high school I was planning on going to college, but my family wasn’t financially stable. I decided to join the Marine Corps, because of the GI Bill. The next thing I knew I was on my first deployment to Iraq in 08’.
To be honest, when I joined, I didn’t know what the Marine Corps was. I just knew that I wanted to do something with my life instead of hanging out with a bad group and getting myself into trouble.
I wanted to make my family proud, so I joined the military. My mother was against it. My father was for it. He didn’t really say much about it. My dad’s kind of like that. We’re distant but I know he loves me. It’s an Asian thing.
Now, even if he won’t say it, I can tell that he’s proud of me. I went on three tours and became a man instead of sticking around, being a kid and getting into trouble. He listens to me now. He looks at me like a man.
I’ve deployed three times with 6th Motor Transport Battalion, based out of Redbank, NJ.
I have thought about going active-duty. But the whole 24/7, active duty is not my gig. I can only take it in spurts. When I joined, I didn’t even know the difference between active and reserve, but, I do believe that you’re a Marine 24/7. I try and carry that. I walk high and proud.
I came back and I actually liked it a lot. I learned a lot and made a lot of friends.
One of the guys is actually I deployed with is here now. We formed a bond, a brotherly bond. We deployed a second time to Iraq together. The third time we deployed, it was to Afghanistan to see some action. It was with the first group I had on my first deployment. I came back and I liked it. I love the Marine Corps.
I’m going back home after the Integrated Training Exercise. I get to go home and soak in civilian life. I get to take off these cammies for a while. When I get back I get to relax and kick my feet up, have a beer when I want to and enjoy it.
On my off time, I’m a goofy guy. I live the life of a party man. When it comes to clubs and stuff, I go all out. I have so much stress. Sometimes you just have to let go and just go crazy.
I haven’t been to Vegas, but I definitely need to go before I die. It’s on my list. When I came back from my first deployment, we went to Atlantic City and I dropped like $2,500.
That’s what I love about being a reservist. It’s the best of both worlds. I know that active-duty guys already have their ideas about reservists, whether it’s weekend warriors or whatever, but I deployed three times. I did my job.