Staff Sgt. Chuong T. Nguyen
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  1. #1

    Cool Staff Sgt. Chuong T. Nguyen

    Staff Sgt. Chuong T. Nguyen
    By Lance Cpl. Christopher A. Raper, USMC
    MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. Chuong T. Nguyen waded out to sea in search of independence, sitting in a rickety raft with his aunt and uncle.

    After the first night, the 11-year-old and his relatives found themselves without water or food and a broken-down engine.

    Nguyen wanted nothing more than to be able to leave his home in Vietnam for a chance at a better life.

    Before their rescue, the group flagged down what seemed to be a fishing boat for water, but after close inspection they realized they were about to be waylaid by pirates. Luckily, a pair of angels in the sky saved the three. Two U.S. airplanes flew over the two vessels surveying the area. The pirates cut the line and made a run for it after seeing the planes flying overhead.

    Just a short time later, the three would-be refugees' prayers were answered. The planes called in the cavalry and the three were saved.

    They spent three days and four nights on the open water before being scooped up by a U.S. Navy gator ship.

    "A gator ship from the Navy picked us up," said Nguyen. "They brought us to a refugee camp in the Philippines where we would spend the next year before coming to America."

    Nguyen had to live off of what little food was rationed out to them and what vegetables they could manage to grow while they were at the refugee camp. The dream of a better life and discipline, instilled through his family, were the only things that kept him going.

    "I was glad for anything that I was given," said Nguyen. "You had to keep focused and try hard. My family taught me discipline."

    In Christmas, 1988, Nguyen got his wish. A gift neither he nor his aunt and uncle would ever forget. He received the gift of independence.

    "Once I got to the United States I sponsored my family," said Nguyen. "It wasn't until five years later that they arrived in the States."

    With very little knowledge of the English language, Nguyen began his 7th grade year in school.

    Living with his aunt and uncle, he spent the next five years fending for himself, studying and applying everything to finishing school.

    "I survived on my own from the time I got here," said Nguyen. "I was afraid to go to school at first because of the language. In the beginning it was hard. I kept focused on what I was doing in school and made good grades."

    Nguyen's hard work paid off when he received his high school diploma.

    In 1994, Nguyen left his home in southern California to begin a new life. He enlisted into the Marine Corps as an infantryman and headed to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, to train with Company B.

    "The toughest thing during recruit training was the language," said Nguyen. "I couldn't understand what the drill instructors were saying. I learned most of English while in the Marine Corps using it every day."

    Once Nguyen completed the School of Infantry at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, he headed back across the ocean to Hawaii where he joined 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.

    During his time with 3/5, Nguyen went on two deployments, was meritoriously promoted to corporal and met his wife.

    "I went into a coffee shop with a friend and just started talking to her," said Nguyen. "We have been married since 1998."

    Nguyen received orders to Drill Instructor School after his second enlistment.

    "There isn't a better place to train Marines than coming to the Depot," said Nguyen. "You get to train them from the beginning of their career. There is no better feeling than seeing one of my recruits graduate and become a Marine."

    "As soon as we got to the Depot, I told my wife not to get mad about the hours that I work," said Nguyen. "When I go home I don't have to worry whether or not she is going to be upset. When I get up in the morning she gets up with me and waits for me to leave before going back to sleep, no matter what the time. She stays awake and waits for me to come home. I couldn't ask for anything more."

    Nguyen has one year remaining on the drill field. After his tour is up, he hopes to extend as an instructor at Drill Instructor School.

    "There is no place better to train Marines than right here on the Depot," Nguyen said. "You start from ground zero and work your way up."

    "I want to be able to pass on my knowledge to future drill instructors."

    Staff Sgt. Chuong T. Nguyen, senior drill instructor, Platoon 1085, commands his recruits during final drill. The drill exercise is the final obstacle a recruit has to overcome during his 13-week evolution. Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher A. Raper, USMC



    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

  2. #2
    Hello ..I am looking for the story about the Albany ( NY Marrines) My husband is currently in an Nasiriyah I went to look at it and now its not there.can someone e-mail me it i would really appreciate it..

  3. #3
    If your husband is a reserve Marine, try the Marine Forces Reserve (MarForRes) in New Orleans site. You may also want to try a web engine search using keywords like 25th Marine Regiment, Albany N.Y., etc. Good luck and best wishes and prayers for his safe return home.


  4. #4
    The Marine Corps Reserve publication, The Continental Marine could also be a good place to look for this information.


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