Aug 08, 2014
FORT HOOD – A Fort Hood soldier whose family came to the United States as refugees when he was 10 became the first Vietnamese-American to reach the rank of general in the U.S. Army on Wednesday.
Col. Viet Luong received his brigadier general’s stars from the Fort Hood commander, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, at a ceremony at the Central Texas Army post.
Luong and nine other family members escaped South Vietnam on a flight during Operation Frequent Wind in 1975. After a stay at a resettlement camp in Fort Chaffee, Ark., the family settled in Los Angeles, the Killeen Daily Herald reported.
Now, he is the 1st Cavalry Division’s deputy commanding general for maneuver and the first Vietnamese-born officer to reach the position of general staff or flag officer in the U.S. military.
“The journey was arduous,” he said after his wife pinned his new stars on him.
“I don’t like to tell that story too much. I’m deeply humbled. I do have some responsibility … to tell the story of our nation and what it stands for,” he said.
“I’m a symbol of democracy, freedom and the justice of our Constitution,” he said.
Among the hundreds attending the ceremony were Luong’s seven sisters, his mother, wife and three children.
“Viet and sisters are Americans now by choice,” Milley said.
“He has served this great nation honorably over the last many decades. … There’s no one in uniform today that epitomizes what it takes to be an American soldier more than Viet Luong.”
Luong commanded combat troops in Iraq from 2006 to 2008 and in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010.
Vietnam War refugee becomes the military’s first Vietnamese-born general
In 1975, when Viet Luong was nine years old, he, along with his parents and seven sisters, escaped Vietnam for the safety of an American aircraft carrier, just a day before the fall of Saigon. Almost 40 years later, Luong has become the first Vietnamese-born general in the United States military.
Brigadier Gen. Luong’s journey from the chaos of war to the highest echelons of the Army brass began from the earliest moments on the Navy carrier that brought his family to the U.S. “That was such a profound moment for me, to see our service men and women and get an appreciation for what they did,” Luong told Army Times. In his 27-year military career, Luong has seen combat leading paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq and the storied Rakkasans infantry regiment in Afghanistan.
Reflecting on his improbable story, Luong noted, “It’s a testament to what this nation stands for, and her ideals, and the opportunities my family has gotten.”
Promotion of Col Viet Luong to Brigadier General
Lễ thăng cấp của tân Chuẩn Tướng Lương Xuân Việt do Viễn Thám Nhảy Dù thực hiện.
Deputy Commanding General, 1st Cavalry Division, Colonel Viet Xuan Luong is promoted to Brigadier General in a promotion ceremony on Cooper Field, 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters, Fort Hood, Texas. BG Luong Makes History as the first Vietnamese-American to be promoted to general in the United States Army.
Fort Hood celebrates Army’s first Vietnamese-born General by Fort Hood, NBC –KXAN
FT. HOOD (KXAN) — Hundreds watched the promotion of the U.S. Military’s first Vietnamese-born General Wednesday. Almost a hundred people from Austin traveled to Fort Hood to watch the historic event.
“It’s an honor, we’re very proud, as Vietnamese-Americans we’re very proud of our own to climb the ranks so high and we wanted to be here to show support,” said Bihn Nguyen with Austin Police Department’s Asian Community Liaison. APD, the Vietnamese-American Community at Austin Texas (VACAT), and Vietnamese Senior Citizen’s Association bused ninety people from Austin to the ceremony at Cooper Field.
Col. Viet X. Luong was the 1st Cavalry Division deputy commanding general for maneuver and was promoted to brigadier general.
“My deep appreciation goes not only to all those folks, but all the institutions and all the soldiers and leaders I’ve had throughout the years to made me who I am today,” said Brigadier General Luong.
Loung was born in Vietnam, but came to the United States in 1975 as a political refugee when he was 10 with his seven sisters and parents. They boarded the U.S.S Hanckock and went to a refugee camp in Arkansas.
The family later moved to Los Angeles where Luong went to the University of Southern California, graduating with a degree in Biological Sciences and a Master of Military Arts and Science. He started his military career after that.
“As a Vietnamese American, and as an immigrant, I am a symbol of democracy of freedom of justice of our constitution.” said Brigadier General Luong. “I live everyday trying to live up to the honor and prestige of one of the owners of that.”
He was deployed to Kosovo and Bosnia along served several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Fort Hood celebrates Army’s first Vietnamese-born General
First Team’s general makes history:
27 years of service continues by Fort Hood Sentinel.
“In 1975, when I was 9 years old, we had to make that escape from Vietnam, and my family got out of South Vietnam the day before the fall of Saigon,” said Brig. Gen. Viet Luong, 1st Cavalry Division’s deputy commanding general-maneuver.
That experience would change Luong’s life forever.
Now, almost 40 years after his rescue, Family and friends watched as Luong became the first Vietnamese-born general/flag officer in the U.S. military during a promotion ceremony Wednesday on Cooper Field.
“This is certainly a momentous event for my Family and the Vietnamese diaspora,” Luong said. “But my journey from a refugee child to the deputy commanding general of the storied 1st Cavalry Division is as much a story of our great nation and our constitution.”
Luong said the promotion wasn’t just about him, but also about the men and women he has served with over the years.
“I don’t want the promotion to be too much about me,” Luong said. “I think it’s a great tribute to my Soldiers and noncommissioned officers – the folks who really have worked to get me to where I’m at. They have made the most significant impact on my career.”
Luong came to the United States as part of Operation Frequent Wind, a mission to help rescue Vietnamese citizens from the country during the final days of the Vietnam War.
“I was actually at the Tan Son Nhut Airport getting extracted by a Marine Corps helicopter,” Luong said.
That helicopter was one of the last to fly as part of the operation.
Luong’s nearly 27-year military career stemmed from his experience on the deck of the USS Hancock when he was a little boy leaving Vietnam.
“That was such a profound moment for me to be able to see our service men and to see what serving meant,” Luong said.
He was unsure what branch he would serve in, but later in life he stumbled onto an airborne ROTC instructor who told him about the
Army. Following that
encounter, Luong made the decision to join.
On this day, Luong stood on Cooper Field’s Cav. Patch as his wife, Kim, removed his colonel’s rank from his chest and added a single star.
Luong credits his dad, a former Vietnamese Marine officer, as being his biggest influencer from a leadership perspective.
“Everything I learned about duty, honor, country, sacrifice and selfless service I’ve learned from my dad,” Luong said.
Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, presided over the ceremony and praised Luong for his competence, and most notably, his courage.
“He has also demonstrated immense courage from his early youth in Saigon and his escape,” Milley said.
He also noted Luong’s commitment to the United States.
“He has deployed on multiple tours,” Milley said. “He has commanded our most elite forces. There is no one in uniform today that epitomizes what it takes to be an American Soldier more than Viet Luong,” Milley said.
Luong joined the First Team in March. With the division staff deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Luong is the 1st Cav. Div.
commanding general (rear).
He said serving his country is an honor and privilege.
“I’m very patriotic,” Luong said. “There’s a sense of service for me to be able to give back to this great nation after all the opportunities that have been afforded to us, saving us from harm’s way and affording us the opportunity to not only assimilate but to move up through education.”