This month’s Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight features class of 2007 alumni and Naval Academy graduate Andrew Truong. Andrew is currently pursuing his dream of becoming a Naval Aviator, a dream that was sparked by an event that took place one day during his 5th grade science class at LCS. Here is what Andrew had to share with us.
Q. What have been your education and/or work experiences since you graduated from LCS?
A. After graduating from LCS, I attended high school at Chapelgate Christian Academy where I participated in both JV and varsity soccer, varsity lacrosse, and the National Honor Society. I graduated in June of 2011 from CCA near the top of my class and with honors. Having been accepted into the United States Naval Academy, I left for Annapolis to begin my military career as a Midshipman at the end of that month.
While a midshipman, I participated on the Navy Paintball Team, the rock climbing club, the Company intramural soccer team, and held the billets of Company Adjutant and Company Platoon Commander my senior year. In May of 2015, I graduated from the Naval Academy with the USNA Class of 2015, receiving a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, a Commission as an Ensign into the United States Navy, as well as a spot in Flight School.
That summer, while waiting to report to flight school, I worked as a sailing instructor at the Academy, teaching the incoming plebes basic sailing and seamanship while also having the collateral duty of being Maintenance Officer of the fleet of the Navy 26ft sailboats.
I reported to Pensacola, FL to begin flight school in October, where I completed Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API) at Naval Aviation Schools Command. I am currently stationed in Corpus Christi, TX as a Student Naval Aviator, beginning Primary with Training Squadron Two Eight (VT-28) Rangers.
Q. What LCS teacher had the most influence on you and why?
A. I was blessed to have had extremely caring and helpful teachers at LCS. They all cared about my development and I would not be where I am today without their help. While they all influenced my life for the better, the one teacher who had the most influence on my life was my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Thompson. It was Mrs. Thompson who invited a pilot to talk to our class, which was the biggest influence on why I chose the military and Naval Aviation as a career. If it had not been for her lesson planning and her desire to make the lessons more interesting, I would not be where I am today.
Q. What is your favorite LCS memory?
A. Playing soccer for LCS was probably my favorite memory. I liked the competition as well as hanging out with my friends on the field.
Q. What is an accomplishment that you are most proud of in your life so far?
A. The accomplishment I am most proud of has to be following the dreams I’ve had since I was a little kid and never giving up on them. Looking back, the Naval Academy wasn’t particularly easy, and I’m glad I didn’t give up and pushed through the tough times.
Q. What inspired you to want attend the Naval Academy and become a pilot?A. One of the science units during 5th grade was a unit on flight, where the students would learn the basic concepts of flight and how an airplane works. Well, one of my classmate’s dad, Mr. Anglin, was a pilot for Southwest and a Marine Corp Fighter Pilot prior to that. Mrs. Thompson, in an effort to make the lesson more interesting, asked him to come in and talk to us about flight and about being a pilot. To try and spark our interest about aviation and flight, he brought in some videos of planes getting shot down by missiles (no pilots in them of course), and a video of him taking off as an F-18 pilot. Of course, as 5th graders, we were all “oohing” and “ahhing” watching these videos of planes taking off and getting shot down.
After showing us the videos, he brought out the flight gear he wore as a Marine Pilot, which included a flight suit, G-suit, and his flight helmet. When he asked for volunteers, every hand in the room shot up wanting to try the gear on. Luckily for me, the book fair was right before that and I had purchased a book on military planes of the world. The book just happened to be on my desk, and when he saw it, he asked if I wanted to come up to the front and try the gear on.
I still remember this moment very vividly. I walked up to the front of the classroom and put on the flight suit and G-suit. He then explained how each piece of gear worked, and as he was explaining what a G-suit does, he blew the G-suit up, simulating what it does during high G flights. I remember thinking to my 5th grade self, “This is cool! I want to do this when I grow up. I don’t want to sit behind a desk all day, I want to fly planes for a living!” So, since that fateful day, I’ve been working towards achieving my goal of becoming a Naval Aviator.
Q. What are some of the interesting things you have done/places you have been since being in the military?
A. Being in the military has afforded me a lot of really cool experiences that most people will never get to do in their lifetime. I’ve been underway on a US Warship for a month (not as cool as it sounds) and underway on a nuclear submarine (way cooler than it sounds), where I’ve gotten to steer the submarine, conn it, climb into the torpedo tubes, and, of all things, sleep next to a nuclear missile.
I’ve done a sailing cruise where we sailed a 44 foot sailboat from Annapolis to Charleston and back with a crew of 10, tens of miles from shore, through multiple storms, and with no immediate help around. I’ve been able to receive fast rope training, where I’ve gotten to make three jumps out the back of a CH-47 from altitudes varying from 50 ft to over 100 ft (If you’ve seen the beginning of Black Hawk Down, then you’ll know what fast roping is).
I was able to participate in Powered Flight, a program that the Naval Academy had where they would give you 10.5 hours of flight time, and if you were able to complete the syllabus, you would be able to fly an aircraft by yourself for the first time. I’ve also been given the opportunity to participate in NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School, where we hiked and mountaineered through 115 miles of Alaskan Bushlands and Glaciers for a month, living solely off of what we brought and what we were occasionally resupplied with. I’ve had other exciting and funny experiences as a midshipman; however, these experiences are the ones that I hold most dear to my heart.
Q. What advice do you have for current LCS students that might like to join the military in the future?
A. This may sound cliché, but my number one advice is to talk to your parents about it. You may deny this as a kid and young adult, but parents are wiser than they seem. They know you better than you think and they can give you advice on whether the military is the right choice for you. They’ll be your number one supporters in life and I’m sure they’ll also appreciate the heads-up that you’re interested in joining the military. Other than that, if you are still interested in joining the military, go for it and give 100% in what you do. Everything else will work itself out.
Q. What do you envision yourself doing 5 years from now?
A. Ideally, 5 years from now, I will have achieved my goal and will be flying F-18 Super Hornets off of aircraft carriers for a living. I also hope to be able to visit foreign ports and experience the different cultures of the world, as well as finding a woman that I’d like to settle down with one day.