Go Blue, Stay Blue: U.S. Citizenship creates opportunities for Airman

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Frederick A. Brown
  • 9th Reconnaissance Wing

Giving up one’s home country for the opportunities of another can provide many exciting possibilities but can also be a nerve-wracking experience. The decision to defend that nation before the guarantee of citizenship shows a true level of commitment of its own.

That is the path Airman 1st Class Trieu Do, 9th Force Support Squadron food service specialist, started when she moved from Kaiserslautern, Germany, to the U.S. in 2017. She took a huge leap in her journey when she enlisted in the United States Air Force in April 2022.

“When I was younger, I didn’t know where to go and I felt a lack of support, I was lost,” said Do. “The Air Force provides a family, leadership, and guidance, it sets you on a path of success and develops you into a leader. Now I’m developing the skills to guide others who may feel lost.”

Do’s goals went beyond being an American Airman, to becoming an American citizen. Do’s path to citizenship had its challenges, as the path of her parent’s German citizenship had their own.

“During the Vietnam War, my mom would hide in bunkers from the Viet Cong, and was in the middle of the battlefield when the U.S. military saved her and sent her to Germany,” said Do. “My grandfather fought alongside the U.S. military during the war; these connections, and growing up in the Kaiserslautern Military Community lead to my interest in the Air Force.”

Do went through more extensive background checks and other red tape than usual due to her status as a foreign national. The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test was an obstacle of its own to hurdle.

“I left Germany and had to learn everything from scratch,” said Do. “On top of adjusting to a new culture and mentality, and speaking English at a faster pace than I was used to, I was learning math, word knowledge, mechanics, and electronics for the ASVAB.”

She studied intensively with a result of scoring considerably high on the ASVAB, however was restricted in available career specialties. Do was subsequently placed into the services specialty.

"Joining with a green card, I was limited in the jobs I could do, where I could be stationed, or even the ability to deploy,” said Do. “When I went to Basic Military Training, there was a process for recruits to swear in as American citizens as they graduate from basic training and commit to serving in their new country’s Armed Forces, however, the process was removed right when my cycle started.”

After technical training, Do patiently continued the naturalization process by completing interviews and forms at her first duty station, Beale Air Force Base, California. The challenges and setbacks only inspired Do to work harder in dedicating herself to her role in the 9th FSS, working in the Contrails Dining Facility and the Dragon’s Lair Grill.

Do learned all the procedures and safety measures to a level where she is able to teach others. She prepared meals and served Airman of all ranks with a smile on her face.

Services Airmen perform the duties necessary to keep bases operational, providing food, lodging, clubs and fitness center operations. The Contrails DFAC provides a diverse selection of food services to over 54,000 personnel annually in support of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing and greater Air Force mission.

“Services keeps the entire Air Force going, we sustain the Force, we make the mission possible, and that makes me proud,” said Do. “I wanted my citizenship because it would allow me more opportunities to serve.”

Do’s plans include earning a degree in Marketing to gain skills that she can bring back to improve Air Force services, the ability to deploy to actively sustain our force abroad, and to become a commissioned officer. She is sustained by a desire to help and guide others on the path of success just as she was.

“America is the land of opportunity, and their military has provided the greatest of those to my family for generations,” said Do.

Do’s seven-year journey to becoming an American culminated when she swore in as a U.S. citizen Nov. 15, 2023, at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Sacramento, California.

“Service in the Air Force is a way to give back, yet it continues to provide limitless opportunities,” said Do. “Citizenship was one of those, and now there’s so much more I can do, for both me and in my service to the United States Air Force.”