Dr. Huy Nguyen is glad he is an American.
Nguyen is the CEO of Doctor’s Memorial Hospital in Bonifay and served in Iraq as a Navy physician. He spoke to students during a Veterans Day ceremony at Holmes County High School on Friday, Nov. 10.
Nguyen was born in South Vietnam during the middle of the Vietnam War and served eight years in the Navy, including at Naval Hospital Pensacola. He moved to the United States with his parents at a young age.
Nguyen recalled being in a tent in Iraq, a far cry from the air conditioning he was used to.
‘Learn to enjoy the value of work,’ Nguyen said. ‘I cannot tell you how many sand bags I had to fill in Iraq. Everybody filled sand bags. That was not a part of our regular job but, I got to tell you, after a while filling the bags was like building a giant sand castle.’
Nguyen further emphasized the importance of education to the kids assembled.
‘Education not only guaranteed a good livelihood but gave me the knowledge to be a wiser person,’ Nguye said. ‘Get your education. It is the most direct path to a better life.’
The event also included a ceremonial presentation of arms and the American flag, along with recognition of veterans in attendance by military branch and period. A table with a flower and glass and no one sitting there was also displayed to honor veterans who are missing in action and prisoners of war.
‘Real leadership is getting people to buy into the greater mission and once you understand the humility of leadership, you will have the privilege of people following you,’ Nguyen said. ‘Ultimately, leadership is a privilege you have to earn every day.’
Nguyen encouraged students to formulate their core values now.
Holmes County High Principal Laurence Pender said his great-grandfather fought in World War I and other relatives and fellow church members growing up also served.
‘We have the freedoms we have because of people such as these sitting out here on this floor today,’ Pender said. ‘You don’t have to worry about somebody coming to your door late at night and just taking your daddy and mommy. You have any free thing you have because of veterans.’