Bayonet Brigade Hero Run remembers fallen Vietnamese-American Soldier
June 17, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas - The 120th Infantry Brigade remembers a fallen Vietnamese-American Soldier, Staff Sgt. Du Hai Tran, who died from an improvised explosive device blast in Iraq in 2008 during the brigade's second Hero Run here recently.
Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Perez, 2nd Battalion, 395th Field Artillery Regiment commander sergeant major, from Hanford, Calif., was Tran's first sergeant while they were deployed to Iraq in 2008. He told the story about Tran's life as a Vietnamese immigrant and eventually a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army during the Hero Run. It was an emotional ceremony, and Perez had to pause many times as he told Tran's story.
"Stay in touch with the Families of the fallen," said Perez. "Let them know we remember our fallen heroes."
Tran was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. When he was two years old his father left Vietnam for asylum in America, because of his service in the South Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War. Tran and his younger sister were raised by his aunt in Vietnam until he was nine.
Around that time, they were forced to flee to a refugee camp in Thailand, where they remained for two years. When he was 11 years old, he was reunited with his father in San Fernando, Calif.
As a young man he joined the Army to prove to his father he could survive on his own, and to give back to the country that took his family in. Tran loved the Army and his brothers and sisters-in-arms. He had three combat tours, even waiving his dwell time to go on his third tour.
During his third tour, he was a heavy-weapons squad leader on a dismounted patrol in Iraq in 2008. He is remembered as always having a positive outlook on life and caring for his Soldiers. In one instance, Tran nearly drowned during a river crossing. After he was pulled out, he looked at Perez and said, "I'm good, I'm going to make it."
His optimism and resiliency was an inspiration to those he served with. His father later told Perez that he was "proud to have had a son who protects the U.S.A." Ten months into the deployment, Tran was killed by an IED blast while on patrol.
"The Hero Run ceremony was created to recognize those that gave their lives for the freedom that we enjoy," said Capt. Julian Benitezpenuelas, 120th Infantry Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company, from Guasave, Mexico. "We run for the fallen, for the fighting, and for the Gold Star Families, and to build a running community in our unit that honors the service and sacrifice of the American military."
Sgt. 1st Class Harry L. Walker, 120th HHC from Chicago, Illl., started off the ceremony with a beautiful quote from the Fort Hood Memorial Day ceremony stating "to our fallen heroes giving up their tomorrow, so we can live for today." Staff Sgt. Du Hai Tran will always be remembered for paying the ultimate sacrifice for his country and for our freedom.
The Hero Run took place at Andy Wells Park in Killeen, Texas. Nearly 40 Soldiers volunteered to come for the ceremony, and participated in the 3-mile run afterwards. The ceremony and run was open to all Fort Hood Soldiers, Family members, Gold Star Families, and also to the public. For more information about the Hero Run, contact the 120th Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company training room at (254) 553-4554.