May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada, a time to reflect on and celebrate the contributions that Canadians of Asian descent have made and continue to make, to the growth and prosperity of Canada. Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated across Canada since the 1990’s. It is also a good time to pause, reflect and learn more about the distinguished service of Canadians of Asian Heritage who have served or continue to serve in The Royal Montreal Regiment (RMR). In honour of Asian Heritage Month, the RMR Foundation is publishing profiles of service of some of our members of Asian descent who have served (and continue to serve) in our ranks.
Westmount, Quebec – 03 May 2022: Born in Vietnam and raised in Montreal, Sergeant (ret’d) Phu Thang Nguyen served in the RMR from 2000 to 2015. He currently works as a Financial Planner for Banque Nationale which is a far cry from the military qualifications that shaped his military career: Small Arms, Heavy Vehicle Driver, Machine Gunner, Radio Communicator… they don’t necessarily translate directly to being a successful banker in the civilian world, but the other qualifications he gained while serving certainly helped his civilian career. Psychological Operations (PSYOPS), negotiation, and especially the multiple leadership courses required to make it to the rank of Sergeant.
His advice to young soldiers is straight-forward and practical: “Try to do courses or to be deployed as much as possible early in your career. As you grow older, health, family responsibilities or civilian career will make it harder to take time off to do courses or deploy.” Wise words from a man who earned more than his fair share of military qualifications and deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 as part of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT).
When prompted for his favourite memories of serving in the RMR he responded “Lots of good memories. But I think the week-long training exercises in the USA, either in Florida, Tennessee, or Kentucky, is where I have the fondest memories.” Keeping with that theme, he confided that the coolest thing he ever did in the army was “Probably the exercise in Fort Knox for a week in 2002. The training was intense but rewarding.”
Upon being asked what he liked the MOST about serving in the RMR, he said that “The opportunities I was given, especially to do different courses or tasks. It supported me during my student days by adapting with my schedule. I couldn’t have asked for a better employer.” Of course, not everything was perfect, and I think that anyone who made it past the rank of Master-Corporal in the Regiment would agree with him when he stated that his LEAST favourite part of serving was “Some of the Tuesday night training in the armoury where there were meetings after meetings (after meetings!).”
Sergeant (ret’d) Nguyen was well respected during his time with the Regiment, and his parting words from our interview said a lot about him and most everyone who passes through the RMR’s doors: “I came to the RMR as a teenager and I came out as a full grown adult. The RMR provided the base to learn from and to build my character over time. I believe that I am a better person because of that. I will always be thankful for the RMR for that.”