About Me: Why I Am Becoming a US Army Officer

My Past

I was born in Long Branch, New Jersey. I spent my childhood and adolescence growing up in Tinton Falls, a small suburban town in New Jersey that was near Fort Monmouth, NJ. My father worked as a civilian employee for the US Army. Throughout my school years, many of my classmates and friends were children of enlisted soldiers and officers. My family wasn’t perfect and growing up wasn’t always easy for me, but looking back, it was more than I could possibly ask for. Because the truth is, I shouldn’t have even been born.

My father fought for the South Vietnamese Army and was trained by US Army soldiers. My father survived the war, but when South Vietnam fell, it was a US Navy Vessel that gave the refugee boat my father was fleeing on a US Flag to fly so that they could sail to port in the Philippines. Without a home, the US took my father and his family in and gave them a chance at a new life.

And I think about this all the time. I think about the places that were built, and the communities, and the experiences, and the opportunities that I had when I was young. And I think about my teachers, and my friends, and my coaches, and every single person that was there for me or that was around when I was growing up. I could lose everything and be the lowest person on Earth, but I’d still have those moments and memories of people who believed my life was worth living and believed that I could do something with it. And I think about how whether it was doing the big things or the little things, I owe these people so much because they made my life worth living.

And it doesn’t matter if I’m having one of my best days or one of my worst days, because whenever I think about this only one thought comes to mind: I am the luckiest person alive because I have all of this when I shouldn’t even have existed.

Moving Forward

Even though I have little to my name, and even though my life hasn’t amounted to much thus far, I am still so grateful. Every day I’m so damn grateful. I am an American, and I’ve had a lot of ups and a lot of downs, but I’m so damn happy that I got to be alive and have so many others in my life. And I just want to have a place to call home, and a family that was better than I had. But I’ve already had more than I could ever ask for in my life, and if I never get a chance for these things, I can accept that. I had a place made possible by others and me writing this is proof enough of the chance that my father and his family were given.

But I am an American and I can’t be anything else. Where ever it leads me and where ever it takes me, I’m sticking it out until the end of the line. If I never get a chance for my own, at the very least I can try to make a place home for someone else and their family — I can do the same that was done for me. Its people, and this present, and this future are the only valuable things I have, they’re the only things I know, and there is nothing I wouldn’t give because they’re the only things that make my life worth living.

I am an American. Everything I have in my life, all of my experiences, everything I’ve learned, everything that I’ve done no matter how insignificant, all of the people I’ve met that I now call friends and even family, everything that I consider good in my life, I owe to the United States of America. Whatever you ask me to do, I will try my best to do. Where ever you send me to go, I will go. Whatever you decide for me, I will abide by. I owe too much to too many who were far better than myself — in the past and in the present — to do anything else or live any other life.

My ship date is December 30th, 2019 and I look forward to this next chapter of my life where ever it leads me. But I’m glad for all of you — for everyone — that I made it here.

My Present

(This is my personal statement attached to my OCS packet)

I want to be an officer because I want to undertake the most difficult and challenging task available — to be an example for others to look up to, follow, and aspire towards; to constantly demand of myself accountability, integrity, and improvement; to be the person trusted to be there for others when they need it most in their most trying times and difficult circumstances; to be the person that shoulders the heaviest weight, most difficult burdens, and makes the tough decisions that no one enjoys; to be the person that is worthy of the responsibility and well-being of some of the finest people the world has to offer. At the most basic level, I want to be an officer because I want to lead. I want to learn how to lead well and to constantly strive to challenge and improve myself. I want to learn how to lead when it is most difficult but also when it is most important. I want to learn to lead the best from the best, from top to bottom, across the spectrum, and from anyone and anywhere with those qualities.

I know that I have many traits that will allow me to be successful, from my hard-working nature, to my intelligence and knowledge, to my drive towards constant improvement. But I also know my own shortcomings and weaknesses. I need to be more courageous, tough, and stern. I need to train and strengthen my body and my mind to a greater degree. Above all else, I need more experience. I need more opportunities to prove myself; opportunities to test my limits by finding areas where I succeed and to learn from my mistakes by finding the times I fail.

I know that I will have these chances to grow, train, strengthen, and mature as a person as a US Army Officer, but above all, I believe that being a US Army Officer will give me the chance to do what matters most to me as a leader: to care for the people around me and the people I am responsible for. I want to be there for the men and women standing to my left and to my right, and I want them to know that I am with them, behind them, and at the head of them all at the same time, at all times. This is the one thing that gives my life the most meaning, it is what I know I will find as a US Army Officer, and it is why I pursue this path with the utmost seriousness, dedication, effort, and passion.

Gabriel Pham

5/3/2019

I know that I have many traits that will allow me to be successful, from my hard-working nature, to my intelligence and knowledge, to my drive towards constant improvement. But I also know my own shortcomings and weaknesses. I need to be more courageous, tough, and stern. I need to train and strengthen my body and my mind to a greater degree. Above all else, I need more experience. I need more opportunities to prove myself; opportunities to test my limits by finding areas where I succeed and to learn from my mistakes by finding the times I fail.

I know that I will have these chances to grow, train, strengthen, and mature as a person as a US Army Officer, but above all, I believe that being a US Army Officer will give me the chance to do what matters most to me as a leader: to care for the people around me and the people I am responsible for. I want to be there for the men and women standing to my left and to my right, and I want them to know that I am with them, behind them, and at the head of them all at the same time, at all times. This is the one thing that gives my life the most meaning, it is what I know I will find as a US Army Officer, and it is why I pursue this path with the utmost seriousness, dedication, effort, and passion.

Gabriel Pham

5/3/2019

Living My Best Life

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