Reservist

ISS1 2018

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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supported the United States during the Vietnam War, Nguyen was awakened by his father. That night, they would flee the country, with little knowledge that it would be the last time he would ever see his home again. His mother made the difficult decision to stay behind—along with some of his siblings—to help care for her aging mother, planning to escape at a later time. With only minutes to collect the few valuables they could carry, Nguyen and his father made their way to the shore where a boat was waiting to whisk them out of the country. As they approached the boat, the moonlight illuminated the men, women and children lying down, packed side-by-side, covering the boat's surface. Nguyen and his father were instructed to lie down beside the more than 30 people packed inside a boat meant for half of that. For the next several days, they faced the haunting prospects of sickness, limited food and water, and a terrifying ordeal with Thai pirates who boarded their boat, stealing all of the meager valuables the passengers had. After several days on the open seas, the boat finally made landing in Malaysia. Nguyen later learned that his cousin, who was traveling on another boat, perished on the journey. With family members dislocated far and wide and no way of knowing of their condition, Nguyen and his father would spend the next year of their lives in a Malaysian refugee camp. Living in overcrowded and stifling conditions, they held onto hope that they would eventually find refuge in America. g i v i n g Bac k Eventually, Nguyen and his immediate family, made it to the United States for a new beginning. After graduating from college with a degree in biology, Nguyen had a yearning to give back in a tangible way. He decided on the Coast Guard, in large part due to its mission of saving lives and maritime environmental protection. After serving nine years on active duty, Nguyen joined the Coast Guard Reserve in 2016. Responding to the hurricanes was his first deployment as a reservist. The deployment caused Nguyen to reflect on his experiences of displacement, and he understood firsthand what it felt like to lose everything and start over. "We can never walk in another's shoes, but as a refugee, I can relate to losing everything and starting over," Nguyen said. At times during his deployment on St. Croix, he found his mind racing with thoughts of the life he left behind in Vietnam and all that he lost in the process. "So many of my neighbors and friends never made it out of Vietnam, and I often think about what their lives are like compared to mine," Nguyen said. He admired the tenacious spirit of the people in St. Croix, refusing to let circumstance dictate their outlook as they picked up the pieces of their lives shattered by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. "For me, a big takeaway from this deployment is that despite some people losing everything they had, they still exuded a happiness in their spirit, lifting mine in the process," Nguyen said. His supervisor at the Gulf Strike Team, Senior Chief Petty Officer Direck Satterfield, an electrician's mate, worked alongside Nguyen during their deployment. "Ky was relatively new to our unit, so this [was] the first chance I had to work closely with him," Satterfield said. "Ky was very supportive of his shipmates and bonded well with the local agency partners. I can't say enough about what an impressive young man he is." Satterfield was so impressed with Nguyen in terms of his work ethic and ability at adapting to any situation, he added, "In my book, there's God, Mother Teresa and Ky." Nguyen was grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside the residents, volunteers and federal emergency responders who continue with the cleanup and restoration efforts throughout the Virgin Islands. "Serving others after the devastating hurricanes in the Virgin Islands is a privilege that I will never forget." � n guyen and Department of Planning and n atural Resources Conservation Officer Jose Berrios assess the damage to a beached sailboat on Princess Beach, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin i slands, n ovember 3. t ogether with the e P a , DP n R and other agency partners, the Coast Guard is responding to active pollution and removing hazards from the harbors, waterways and shorelines of the U.S.V. i . Photos by Petty Officer 2nd Class Paul Dragin Issue 1 • 2018 � RESERVIST 25

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