“We Fought With Our Hearts And Minds”: A Vietnamese Veteran Achieves The American Dream

Khoa Tran


1LT Khoa Tran was born in 1945 in northern Vietnam, and moved south when the country was partitioned. He was in college in Saigon, but was drafted following the Tet Offensive in 1968, and was selected to be an officer in the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Often his unit was assigned convoy escort duty to keep routes open in South Vietnam. He participated in operations to eliminate the North Vietnamese sanctuary in Cambodia, and was proud of how the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) acquitted itself. In 1972, he traveled to the United States, where he attended the Armor School at Fort Knox and the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill. When he returned to South Vietnam, he served as an instructor at the Vietnamese Armor School. When the war ended, he escaped to the Philippines, and by May 1975 was in the United States. Arriving in America, he was determined to prove what a Vietnamese refugee could accomplish, and became a systems engineer at IBM. He struggled to bring his mother and brother to the United States, navigating a process that took 12 years for his mother and 16 years for his brother. For him, part of healing the hidden wounds of war is forgetting the past and moving on. In this interview, he talks about growing up in northern Vietnam and South Vietnam. He describes several of his missions, and the pride he still feels about his service. He discusses coming to the U.S. and working hard to achieve the American Dream. Finally, he offers Cadets advice for being successful in the military.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics ARVN Camaraderie Courage Diversity Honor Leadership Military Techniques Teamwork Refugee Patriotism Morale
interviewer Cadet Andy Vu
date 22 September 2018


name Khoa Tran
institution University of Saigon
service Armor
unit 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment; The South Vietnamese Armor School
specialty Armored Cavalry, Intelligence, Political Warfare
service dates 1968 1975