SILVERDALE – A Navy Region Northwest Sailor has been recognized for receiving the first ever Vietnamese American Armed Forces Association (VAAFA) Junior Enlisted Service Member of the Year Award.
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class (AW/SW) Tu Chau, from Portland, Ore., and the command Master-at-Arms at Transient Personnel Unit Puget Sound was selected from a group of 15 other candidates as this year’s award recipient.
“I couldn’t believe I won,” said Chau. “I feel really honored to have won since this is the first time the association came together to recognize a member.”
Chau was flown from Seattle to Washington D.C. to claim his award and also tour the Nation’s capital.
“It was my first time visiting in D.C.,” he said. “I toured the Capitol Building and saw many historical sites while walking around National Mall.
The VAAFA is the first military association for Vietnamese American service members in the United States. Its members are Active, Reserve, National Guard, and Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Their mission is to provide professional development, mentorship, enhanced camaraderie, and networking for current and former Vietnamese American service members of the uniformed services.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to submit the paperwork for the award,” said Chau. “I knew I had good evaluations and after talking it over with my mentor and family they said it would be a great achievement.”
Chau, originally from Soc Trang Province, Vietnam moved to Oregon in 2003, then enlisted in the Navy in 2009. He completed Navy Recruit Training in Great Lakes, Ill., in May 2009 and then graduated from Naval Aviation class ‘A’-school in Pensacola, Fla. Upon completion of class ‘A’ school, Chau was assigned to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LSD 5), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
“I joined the Navy for a few reasons,” he said. “I knew I wanted a job doing something with aircraft, but I also wanted to continue my education.”
Although the decision of joining the Navy straight out of high school loomed in Chau’s mind he decided to go to college instead.
“I wanted to join straight out of high school,” he said. “My parents didn’t like the idea, so I waited a couple of years to revisit the thought of joining.”
While continuing and eventually finishing education is Chau’s top priority while in the Navy, he also enjoys the benefits he receives for his family.
“It’s important to have a reliable healthcare provider,” said Chau. “Not many people can claim that, but being in the Navy, deployed, I know my family is being cared for.”
For more information on the VAAFA visit http://www.vaafa.org.