Former interpreter visits unit 51 years later
By Sgt. Robert Arellano
| 12th Marine Regiment | November 16, 2017
Vietnam veteran returns to unit 51 years later
Sonny Wong, a Vietnam veteran, tours 12th Marine Regiments various facilities and learns about how Marines fight in modern combat Nov. 7, 2017, at 12th Marine Regiment’s company office on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan. Wong was an interpreter attached to 12th Marines during the Vietnam War and decided to visit his old unit 51 years later. Yagel gave him a tour of the Regiment’s facilities and weapons as Wong described his experience working with the Marines. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ally Beiswanger)
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- A former Vietnamese soldier who was assigned to the 12th Marine Regiment during the Vietnam War recently visited the command to pay tribute to the unit he served with nearly 51 years ago, here in Okinawa, Nov. 7.
In 1966, Sonny Wong joined the Vietnamese military as a military interpreter. During the war, the U.S. military was in need of Vietnamese interpreters for operations, so they began to train soldiers to interpret for the U.S. military, said Wong. After the completion of the training, they were officially recognized as “NCO Interpreters.”
Following graduation, Wong and his comrades were then ready to be assigned to a unit that participated in combat operations. “So 15 of us selected Marines,” said Wong. “We [were] assigned to 3rd Marine Division, and they sent three of us down to 12th Marines.”
During his visit to the Regimental Headquarters, he met with the commanding officer and sergeant major of 12th Marine Regiment, Col. Jeffery M. Morgan and Sgt. Maj. Douglas W. Yagel, for a tour of the facilities. Yagel showed him the various artillery and communication systems, to which Wong said he was thrilled to learn about how today’s weapons compare to weapons used in the Vietnam War.
Col. Morgan and Sgt. Maj. Yagel expressed their gratitude for Wong's service to the Regiment and presented him with a command coin.
Wong said he would cherish it, always.