In front of a crowd of hundreds, Col. Viet Luong made history last week, becoming the first general born in Vietnam in the history of the U.S. military, during a ceremony last week at Fort Hood.
Brig. Gen. Luong came to the United States as a 10-year-old child in 1975 during Operation Frequent Wind after the fall of Saigon. Along with his parents and seven siblings, he briefly lived in a resettlement camp in Arkansas before ultimately settling in Los Angeles. He attended the University of Southern California, graduating in 1987, before joining the Army.
“As a Vietnamese American, and as an immigrant, I am a symbol of democracy, of freedom, of justice, of our constitution.” Luong told NBC affiliate KXAN. “I live everyday trying to live up to the honor and prestige of one of the owners of that.”
In addition to serving tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Luong was also deployed to Kosovo and Bosnia over the course of his career.
The general told the Army Times that he does not talk much about his early life in Vietnam during the war. His father was a member of Vietnamese Marine Corps, which meant during a time of war, “my dad was always away,” Luong explained to the paper.
“I don’t remember much about [the Vietnam War] but images of explosions and bad things happening,” he said.