Thong Nguyen EE '06 never tires of counting his blessings—among them, his faith, his freedom, and his Villanova education. Thus, when the Lockheed Martin systems engineer associate returned in the fall from his tour of duty with the Army National Guard in Iraq, he presented to the College of Engineering a gift that expressed his appreciation: the American flag that his comrades in the 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team had carried during patrols of former insurgent strongholds. Accompanying the flag was a certificate of authenticity signed by Nguyen’s commanding officer.
"I wanted to give back to my country for all the good things my family has received, especially here at a Catholic university," said Nguyen, whose mother has worked in Dining Services for many years. "My two older brothers also graduated from the College of Engineering, so this flag is my giant thank you to Villanova.”
The son of Vietnamese parents who had fled their Communist-controlled homeland in the '70s, Nguyen had always wanted to serve his country as a member of the armed forces. But while he was a student at Cardinal O’Hara High School, he read Edgar Puryear’s American Generalship, and his dream to be an officer took shape. "Reading about the traits of successful military leaders inspired me to strive to be a servant-leader, a person of character and integrity.”
After Nguyen graduated from Villanova, however, he discovered that he was color-blind and was thus disqualified as an officer candidate. Undeterred, he decided to enlist, and so began three years of duty as an HR specialist.
Honored by the gifts, the College plans to display the flag and certificate in CEER. "They symbolize not only Thong’s abiding affection for the College but also his tremendous dedication to our nation,” said Dr. Gary Gabriele, the Drosdick Endowed Dean of Engineering.