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Face of Defense: Vietnam Native Ready to Serve

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Frances Candelaria
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif., May 28, 2010 – After being asked a question about his life, Marine Corps Pfc. Duy Trinh took a moment to reflect on the answer and how it may sound.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Pfc. Duy Trinh checks his gear before returning it to the property control office at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, May 25, 2010. The Vietnam native will serve as an engineer equipment mechanic. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Frances Candelaria
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

“I was born in Saigon, Vietnam,” Trinh said. Something in the way he paused showed through in his eyes, as if the 20-year-old Marine went back to his birthplace and through all the memories that brought him to this exact moment in his life. “My grandparents fled after the Vietnam War, and all my relatives split up after that. Some came to the states.”

The only child of a construction worker and a housewife, Trinh dreamed of growing up to be an engineer. But when his parents decided to move to Garden Grove, Calif., in 2004, the young man focused on learning to speak English and finishing school.

“I started [American] high school with only three months left of my freshman year,” the Bolsa Grande High School graduate said. “Mr. Bridges was an [English as a second language] teacher, he helped me a lot. I liked him because he was an instructor first, but was very careful in the way he actually listened to me.”

Trinh learned that his teacher was a former active-duty Marine and heeded his advice when it came to learning. He said he has carried the guidance with him ever since.

“He always told me, ‘Your books are your weapon, like a rifle to a Marine. Every time you come to school, your books are your rifle. Without them you can do nothing,” Trinh said.

Though Trinh focused his efforts in school and continued his education at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, Calif., he became unsettled while staying at home and watching television.

“If you stay at home and watch the news, you realize you can’t do anything,” he said. “But if you become a part of something, you can make a change.”

So after sitting around through two years of college, Trinh looked into joining the military and decided on seeing a Marine recruiter for adventure, the chance to travel and to become the change he wanted to see.

“When he first came into the office, he was real quiet and didn’t say much,” said Trinh’s recruiter, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Edgar Ruiz. “He changed a lot in the delayed entry program. He … started coming out of his shell. He was really motivated, and very proud to go to boot camp.”

Trinh said he will go on to become an engineer equipment mechanic and is motivated to serve in the Marine Corps.

“‘Semper Fidelis’ means ‘Always Faithful,’” he said. “I want to be faithful and help the thing I love.”

 

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