Completing The Circle: A Child Of The Vietnam War Becomes The Senior American Defense Official In Hanoi

Pat Reardon


COL(R) Pat Reardon’s birth name is Nguyen Duc Do, and he was born in 1963 in Quang Ngai province in the Republic of Vietnam. His father was a nurse in the South Vietnamese Army (Army of the Republic of Vietnam, or ARVN). He was one of nine children, and grew up experiencing the war that engulfed South Vietnam, including seeing dead people on the streets and playing with bullets and other ordnance. His godfather was a civilian American doctor, Pat Reardon, and as the war started to go poorly for South Vietnam, Huy Duc Nguyen, decided to send his son and young daughter to America with Dr. Reardon. On April 8, 1975, twelve-year-old Pat and his sister left Vietnam with Dr. Reardon. Leaving Vietnam, and not knowing if he’d ever see his birth parents again, was difficult for Pat, but he remembers his father giving him a bracelet with three words on it in Vietnamese: work hard, be happy, and be obedient. Those three words served as Pat’s inspiration throughout his life. Although learning English was a challenge, Pat applied himself, and eventually secured an appointment to the United States Military Academy prep school. Had he not attended the prep school, he would have been in the same class at the Military Academy with Hong “Peter” Vu, and Jean Nguyen, the first two Vietnamese-American Cadets to attend West Point. After graduating, Pat commissioned into the Infantry, and spent much of his career serving in Asia and the Pacific region. One of his last assignments was as the Senior Defense Official in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he was the first Vietnamese-American to hold that post. In this interview, he talks about his childhood in Vietnam, and the challenges and opportunities he experienced coming to America. He describes his time at West Point, and several of his assignments in the Army. He reflects on his service, from Hawaii in the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) to Hanoi. Finally, he reflects on what West Point means to him.


conflicts Afghanistan War Vietnam War
topics ARVN Courage Diversity Leadership Military Techniques West Point History Wartime Decisions Refugee Patriotism
interviewer Cadet Tina Le
date 21 September 2018


name Pat Reardon
institution USMA
graduation year 1986
service Infantry
unit F CO, 51st Infantry (Long Range Surveillance Company); U.S. Senior Defense Official (SDO) and Defense Attaché (DATT) to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
service dates 1986 2014