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|Nguyen Vi Anh is onboard USNS Mercy, docked in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Anh)|
Nguyen Vi Anh, 30, a staff member at Balboa Naval Medical Center, has been assigned to 272-meter USNS Mercy, one of two hospital ships operated by the United States Navy.
Around a month ago, the world’s largest floating hospital docked in Los Angeles amid fears the city would become a Covid-19 hotspot like New York. The USNS Mercy subsequently received and treated patients from other hospitals to make space for new coronavirus patients.
Anh provides meals to patients and other staff from 4.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. daily.
"I work 14 to 16 hours a day, sleeping during most of my free time," she said.
Joining the U.S. Navy over a year ago, Anh could not hide her excitement nor trepidation after learning she would be stationed on USNS Mercy.
The vessel recorded its first Covid-19 patient 14 days after she first boarded on March 23. As of mid-April, seven more cases were confirmed, trapping 100 medics in quarantine. Fortunately, the outbreak was contained and though many of Anh’s colleagues had returned home, she opted to stay.
|The graduating hospital corpswoman Anh receives her certificate. (Photo courtesy of Anh).|
In her 20s, this Ba Ria - Vung Tau native girl chose to study abroad to satisfy her desire to see the world. Graduated from Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture, Vi Anh went to the United States to study Technology and Engineering at the Houston Community College System from June 2014. She studied and worked for four years, but she did not hesitate to give up this field when finding a career path for herself.
"Once I was able to talk to an army recruiter. I talked about the career path. The way he spoke was engaging, intelligent, decisive and with such a positive energy that makes me want to to be people like him, "she recalls. Immediately after the conversation, Vi Anh learned about the military industry and made exam documents. After more than half a year of waiting with many rounds and tests of personal identity and health, finally she was selected to attend a military training course in December 2018.
Vi Anh spent 8 weeks training with dozens of sections to become a navy, from swimming, fighting, historical knowledge, ships, shooting, running, sniffing...Some people felt the pressure from being scolded, some could not stay up late or work for hours at a fast pace. For the only Vietnamese girl in the course, the most difficult task was to experience extreme weather, according to VnExpress.
That winter was considered the coldest in 10 years, the temperature went down to minus 30 degrees C. Vi Anh grew up in Vietnam, lived in the United States four years also in a place which is not too cold. But in the bootcamp, almost every day she had to walk under the white snow. In those days, she had constant nosebleeds.
|Nguyen Vi Anh and her husband in her hometown in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Anh)|
"Crossing the snow, I told myself I would remember this for the rest of my life. Now, the memory helps me overcome most of life’s difficulties."
Swimming days were also like hell. Vi Anh had to walk for an hour to get to the swimming pool in the severely cold weather. Before catching her breath, she was immediately pushed from a height of 3 meters to the pool. Water rushed into the nose, she had to exert all strength into the limbs to swim fast to the middle of the tank. Sitting on the float, Vi Anh still trembled.
Another "hell" was the fire mission. This competition tested the bravery of the soldier as well as the effect of the gas mask, when 100 people were rushed into a sealed room with tear gas. At first they did not feel anything, but then they were ordered to remove the mask. The tear gas immediately rushed to the face, making everyone dizzy. Vi Anh's shoulder got hurt from the fire training, and in this part, she felt that her legs could not even stand.
"We had to endure a few ten seconds of tear gas. Everybody gets teary nose and runs into the stream. It was not until I was in the line that I realized I had passed," she said.
Having overcome the first 3 weeks of training, Vi Anh has begun to adapt and overcome the remaining challenges easier. Before graduating, she will have to pass the final exam Battlestations - set all challenges in 2 months training. The test takes place from 8 pm the night before until the next morning.
After the first three weeks, Anh gained more confidence in preparation for the final test.
"Battle Stations taught me the merits of team work, fully aware you can’t survive boot camp alone," Anh stated.
Though dozens of recruits failed, 1.53 meter high, 48 kilogram Anh passed.
Exiting boot camp, Anh immediately joined a 19-week course in military medicine.
"While other guys go out to relieve stress after the bootcamp, I turned down all the invitation, even though I know that would offend some people. But to achieve my goal, I did not allow myself to be lazy", Vi Anh said, adding she was assigned academic manager during the course.
The industrious Anh studied around the clock and graduated with a GPA of 99/100.
Last July, she started working at one of the largest U.S. naval hospitals in San Diego.
As a naval medic, Anh gets to travel to many places, including Japan, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, and Germany, etc. After marrying a colleague, she was promoted to sergeant last month.
This Fall, she will join another course, taking a further step in her stellar military career.
"I may not be rich, but I’ve had countless experiences. In future, when I look back, I will surely be satisfied", according to VnExpress.
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