Originally from the small town of Ben Tre, Vietnam, Tru Truong began her journey in the U.S. at 12 years old when she moved with her mother and sister to Maryland. She was always interested in joining the military as she liked the idea of unpredictable work, discipline and a lot of travel. But first, she had to get her college degree.
Truong earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, where she studied civil engineering and enjoyed working at the theater of performing arts on campus while she was there, doing construction and making props for the stage. After graduation, she still had the urge to join the military, so she enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2013.
During her service, Truong was a construction mechanic as part of the SeaBee community (those sailors who stay on land), and also later became a heavy equipment operator. Her first duty station was in Japan on shore duty where she’d deploy with different ships, including the USS Ashland, USS Green Bay, and many others where she’d then travel to places like Australia, Guam, Saipan and the Philippines.
Some of these deployments included disaster relief; one in particular was after Saipan suffered from a typhoon. “The deployments were more than just working for me,” she says. “I liked seeing actual tangible impacts on the community, like cleaning up the schools.”