Speed Reads

The Face of American Patriotism

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."