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Veteran profile: 9/11 terrorist attacks molded a Marine


Marine Corps veteran Tan Phan encourages others to give back to the United States by serving. | Salma Valverde/The Cougar

After witnessing the 9/11 terrorist attacks on TV, Tan Phan was angry to see innocent people as targets. He decided he would join the Marine Corps after high school.

“I wanted to do my part,” he said.

Phan and his family are from Vietnam. Being the first-generation child in the United States to join the Marine Corps was an ideal opportunity for him to give back to the country, which he said has given him a lot.

When Tan first enlisted, he went through basic training, then combat training and gradually made his way to his job in the Marine Corps, which was fixing jets.

As a corporal E-4 rank, Tan was often stationed in San Diego, but he also had the opportunity to travel to Japan, South Korea and all over the U.S.

Tan found it difficult to be away from his loved ones back home, but he discovered another family within the military.

The UH Veterans Services office is a great hangout spot for him, too.

After serving five years, Tan said he enjoyed relaxing for two months before enrolling at UH in June 2012. He is now working on a dual degree in health and nursing.

When asked if he would recommend that others enlist, he said they should, but only for the right reasons. Tan wished to contribute by joining the military, and whoever wishes to join should do the same, he said.

“I wasn’t seeking anything,” he said.

Joining the armed forces will always be one of the greatest milestones in his life, Tan said. He encourages fellow Americans to do their part for this country. It does not matter how big or how small the contribution is; we can all make a difference, he said.

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