A 2004 Park Field High School, Missouri, graduate and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52).
Chief Electrician’s Mate Tho Nguyen is the leading chief petty officer for the electrical engineering division aboard Bunker Hill, which is currently on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific and is in Da Nang, Vietnam, for a scheduled port visit.
As a subject matter expert in electrical engineering, his responsibilities include the maintenance of all electrical equipment and oversight of a crew of electrical engineers. “I joined the Navy because I was floating by in college,” said Nguyen. “I went for two years and decided it wasn’t for me so I looked toward the military as an alternative.”
Bunker Hill was commissioned on Sept. 20, 1986 and is the second United States warship to bear the name, behind the original Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill (CV 17), which was launched during World War II. Bunker Hill measures approximately 567 feet and is powered by four gas turbines that allow it to travel at over 37 mph in open seas. The ship is named in honor of the Revolutionary War battle, the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Bunker Hill has been a part of many historical events that include humanitarian missions and conflict during its 33 years of service.
In November 1990, Bunker Hill sailed in support of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, served as the multinational Air Warfare Commander and was one of the first ships to launch a Tomahawk cruise missile against Iraqi targets. Following the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War, Bunker Hill participated in organizing and establishing Operation Southern Watch, the complex enforcement of the United Nations-established no-fly zone over southern Iraq.
In 2010, Bunker Hill participated in Operation Unified Response and provided first-response critical care and aid to six Haitian villages following a devastating earthquake. Approximately 33 officers and 327 enlisted men and women make up the Bunker Hill crew. "I want my Sailors to feel like we’re a family," said Nguyen. "I want my guys to feel trusted, so I let them work on their own for the most part, I don’t like to micro manage.”
Nguyen said being a chief in the Navy means being a keeper of tradition and knowledge.
"When I was going through the ranks I saw some things that I would have done differently,” said Nguyen. “So to me the most important thing about being a chief is the ability to make an impact in my Sailors’ lives.”
Nguyen said he would like to eventually settle down with his partner and start a family. Currently they have a dog, two cats and a turtle, but would eventually like to have kids and buy a house in San Diego.
“My family and I migrated to the United States in 1996,” said Nguyen. “We ended up in Springfield, Missouri, where I lived and went to school and then eventually college.” Nguyen said it was interesting coming from Vietnam as an 11-year-old and growing up in the United States. “My Vietnamese isn’t what it used to be, sometimes it comes back to me after having conversations with my mother,” said Nguyen “I haven’t been back to Vietnam in over 20 years, so I look forward to reconnecting with my culture.”Nguyen said even though he lived in an Americanized house hold, he looks forward to experiencing his roots in Vietnam and enjoying the food.