Live for the Challenge
James was born in Ro Chi Minh City, Vietnam and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. Before graduating from high school, he went to boot camp during summer 2017. After graduating, James went to M1 Abrams tank school and shortly after joined the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team and got attached with Charlie Company, 1/120th. After several years in the army, he first deployed with Delta Troop, 1/150th. Re then deployed to Kuwait and went on missions in Jordan and Syria. A year after his deployment, James decided to go back to school and pursue a degree in Engineering and Mathematics. As a CFCC student, he is currently the Student Government Association President, a math tutor for CFCC and UNCW Rispanic Center, and the Vice President of the Student Veterans Organization. James is approaching his last few semesters and hopes to graduate this summer or upcoming fall semester.
The following is a speech delivered at the CFCC Veteran’s Day ceremony, on November 11th, 2022.
Dates are important. Not just first dates and coffee dates; but for us veterans, the day that we enlist, graduate boot camp, head out for deployment, come back from a deployment, etc. November 11th is one of the special dates that recognizes all those times during our time in service. Rere, I’d like to share with you a few important dates of my own.
October 31st of 2019: My first day on a deployment with the North Carolina National Guard; 3rd Platoon in Delta Troop, 1-150th with the 30th Army Brigade Combat Team. Rere, this is truly where my own personal story begins. After 3 years of training as a tanker, I finally got to do my job and effectively become a full- fledged soldier with a deployment under my belt.
Before I continue my story about my deployment, a bit of background to set the picture.
May 19th, 2017: My enlistment into the National Guard. It was my junior year of high school, a 17-year-old boy that didn’t have any intentions of going to college since I attempted to do the dual enrollment program and ended up failing both my math and psychology classes during those times. During that time, I was prioritizing my work more than my own education. And I knew for a very long time that I wanted to be in the military. So I went to the nearest recruiter’s office and signed up to do basic training during my junior year in the summer and then my AIT (Advanced Individual Training) school after I graduate. Boot camp was just as you expected: humid, painful, and intimidating. Rowever, this is where I found my foundations of being successful. Rere, I would end up graduating from boot camp even before I got my diploma in high school. And I never felt more proud of what I’ve accomplished.
Little did I know that this accomplishment would only be the beginning and the true challenge is still yet to come.
April 19th, 2020: Skipping towards my deployment. I sat in a wooden shack on an undisclosed military outpost on the Jordan, Syria, and Iraq borders. In my little wooden home, this is where I shared laughs, tears, and colorful words with my buddies. This makeshift hut I call home has seen the best and worst of me, as a 19- year-old specialist that had little to no duties, I had not a care in the world.
One day, as the sun began to lie down below the horizon, I truly never felt more empty. Yes, I had my buddies around me and still had opportunities to call back home if I ever felt homesick. But this was different. Did I become the effective solder that I set out to be? Absolutely. But deep down I truly had no motivation or plan after this deployment and that sank with me. It started to weigh down on not just me, but my duties as a soldier and friend to my unit. I started to feel like that failure of the high school student I was here, and I decided that enough was enough I had to stop feeling sorry for myself. After my guard shift, I went on the internet, waited for a few hours to pull up the internet browser, and enrolled as a college student.
The last date I’d like to share with you is August 20th, 2022: My first day at Cape Fear Community College. The pursuit of education is a rewarding yet challenging pathway to follow. And for my experience in the Army and my time here at the college, I can confidently say that college has to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. I could fix, drive, and shoot big bullets all day in the army, but once placed into a classroom containing classmates younger than me and with different experiences and backgrounds, it’s a whole different ballpark. But I believe that we Veterans, live for the challenge and do our best to adjust to the situation at hand and adapt to it as best we can.
I want to thank everyone that’s been there with me during my journey here at Cape Fear Community College. The Institute of Cape Fear Community College and all the faculty members, Jason Bocchino and our SVO club members, the instructors that I’ve met along my journey, and all the friends that I’ve made here.
Here at Cape Fear, we are the pathway of success.