YOKOSUKA, Japan—A U.S. Navy
officer picked up as a boy off the coast of Vietnam by a U.S. Navy
ship will return to Vietnam next month in command of one.
Cmdr. Hung Ba “H.B.” Le will visit
Vietnam in November with his ship, the guided missile destroyer USS
Lassen (DDG 82). USS Lassen is the first U.S. Navy ship to be
commanded by a Vietnamese-American.
Le and his family left Vietnam in 1975 during the final days of the
Vietnam conflict. The goodwill visit by his ship will mark the first
time Le has been back to Vietnam since he left the country at the
age of five.
“My crew and I are proud to be able to represent our country to the
people of Vietnam,” said Le. “This visit is a symbol of the
friendship between our two nations, and we are deeply honored to be
a part of it.”
Le was born in Vietnam’s ancient capital city of Hue. On May 2,
1975, Le and his family were picked up at sea by the USS Barbour
County (LST 1195). The Le family immigrated to the U.S., settling in
Northern Virginia. Le became a citizen on April 30, 1985. He
attended the U.S. Naval Academy, where he graduated with merit in
1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and was
commissioned as a U.S. Navy officer.
“This will be an incredible experience for me personally, to return
to the land of my birth for the first time since I was a child,” Le
said. “My memories of Vietnam are very few, yet I still feel very
drawn to it, to its culture, and to its people.”
Le assumed command of USS Lassen and its crew of nearly 300 in
April. The ship is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, as part of
the U.S. 7th Fleet. The precise location and dates of USS Lassen’s
visit will be announced at a later date.