Col. Viet Luong is familiar with the legendary support those stationed at Fort Hood receive from the community.
“No matter how technologically advanced we become, our strength of center is still our soldiers and our families,” Luong, 1st Cavalry Division rear detachment commander and deputy commander for maneuver, said addressing a crowd that included congressional hopeful Louie Minor, during the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee luncheon at the Harker Heights Activities Center on Monday.
Luong filled in for scheduled speaker Brig. Gen. Michael Bills, 1st Cavalry commander, who was unable to attend.
Luong spoke of the Army’s dedication to winning the nation’s war through, above all, teamwork — and speaking of teamwork, he said the First Team is very busy at the moment.
“In addition to having soldiers training and readying themselves for a multitude of missions, they’re getting ready to depart for Afghanistan,” Luong said.
Bills and his team will deploy for Afghanistan soon. Luong, who served in Afghanistan as a brigade commander, said the situation there is quite different from the one he remembers.
“It was a pretty tumultuous time, and the missions were primarily combat,” he said. “That mission has shifted to predominantly train, advise and assist.”
With the presidential elections in April and the recent runoff, Luong said Afghan National Security Forces have done their part to facilitate the Democratic process. Now the troops have to help them.
Luong knows the value of the nation’s military as well as anyone. He and his family barely escaped Vietnam in 1975, coming over to the United States on one of the last ships. He decided to serve his new country as a 9-year-old, standing atop the U.S.S. Hancock.
“(Coming to Fort Hood) is the best thing that ever happened to me,” Luong said.
Nathan Vaught, vice commander of American Legion Post 573 in Harker Heights, came to hear Bills, but said he enjoyed Luong’s speech.
“His background and why he served was really interesting,” Vaught said.
Minor, the Democrat challenging U.S. Rep. John Carter for the 31st District Congressional seat, said it was “absolutely necessary” for the Army to maintain a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding community.
“That’s part of the military’s mission,” said Minor, a captain in the Army Reserves and Iraq War veteran.