Images of military personnel invoke thoughts of patriotism and service, freedom and America but for Army Spc. Thon Trinh, the American military and the United States Army specifically, are a reminder of his dream.

Trinh, an automated logistics specialist with 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team “Black Jack”, at Fort Hood, Texas, is a Vietnam native who at the age of 14, along with his mother and grandfather, entered the United States as refugees.

Trinh’s desire to serve in the Army was spurned when he watched the movie Black Hawk Down.

“I saw how they reacted and completed the mission”, Trinh said. “It was completely different from the Vietnamese. It made me like it. I told myself then, the second thing I would do if I ever go to America would be join the Army. The first would be a soccer player.”

Trinh admired how Soldiers on every level were informed of the mission and could execute the plan with or without the presence of leadership. “The Vietnamese soldier depends on the commander”, Trinh said. “The American Soldier doesn’t; everyone can function by themselves.”

Trinh moved to the U.S. and when the opportunity presented, he joined the Army.

Although his family sought refuge in America, they did not agree with his views or with him joining the American Army. “My family was shocked when I told them”, Trinh said. “They thought the American military was like the Vietnamese military. Communism affects many families, including my family, but I told them I’d prove them wrong.”

Trinh’s journey has led him to Blackjack which is fitting because the brigade was the first to see combat in Vietnam on September 18, 1965. “The history is that this brigade was the first to engage the North Vietnamese” said Trinh. “I became Blackjack and I like that.”

Trinh is not only impressed by the history of the brigade, he is focused on improving the organization.

“I have many things I want to help improve. Since I’ve been here, this has become the best SSA. This is what I’m proud of.”

Now at age 20, Trinh has embraced his place as an American and as an American Soldier. He has earned his promotable status and has the full support and respect of his family.