Below is a report from Sichuan Online, about a young man from Chengdu serving in US military, and his forum postings about his experience:
“My American Soldier Diary” – Chengdu Man Serving In American Military: In Kuwait Reminiscing Jiouyanchao
“What frontline soldiers afraid of most, is not the 120 degree weather, not the sandstorm, not exchange of fire. Privates fret convoy duty the most, in another word afraid of, is Iraqi insurgent’s home-made explosives…”
“Don’t know why I started reminiscing about Chengdu, especially the twice cooked pork. Being homesick is very draining…”
Iron will and human emotions tangled lately on the popular “My American Solider Diary” forum. The poster is a Chengdu man name Tang Liaoliao, who is currently serving infantry in America. Reporter Tu Yufei contacted Tang in America, in order to reveal his American military service story.
Posting to share his unique experience with family and Friends
“10/16, sunny, Kuwait. Waking up groggy, I am drenched in sweat, unable to recall which day of the week it is. Don’t know why I’ve started thinking about Chengdu, like a child thinking of his mother. Especially thinking about twice cooked pork. Being homesick is very draining. When you are battling by yourself, injury is natural. When you are hurt, you’ll think of a place for healing. For me it will always be Chengdu.” – quote from “My American Soldier Diary”
Recently, on a Chengdu website, a “My American Solider Diary” forum post became popular. The poster claims to be from Chengdu, currently serving in American military, was training in Kuwait last month, and deployed in Iraq. Although there were only 4 journal entries, they were viewed tens of thousands of times, with hundreds of netters asking for more.
Couple days ago, the reporter finally contacted the poster liaoliaotang, who’s at a base in Coloardo. Liaoliaotang’s name is Tang Liaoliao. By day he is training at the base. After work he returns home near the base to write is military service journal on-line. Tang checked with his superior, was told as long as it doesn’t involve military secret, it’s okay.
Tang said, 4 years in America, his thoughts about China is never far. He returned to Chengdu last July after the earthquake, as well as this February. When in Chengdu, he meets his buddies at a bar in Jiouyanchao for some peanuts and beer. “I’ll be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.” Quoting American poet Robert Frost, thou Tang has naturalized he remains a Chengdu lad. He posts on his hometown’s website hoping to tell his story to friends back home.
Goal of enlisting: independence, flight career in reserve
“Some classmates ask, did you join the military for American citizenship? Let me answer that, US citizenship is not the most attractive thing in the military benefit package.” – quote from “My American Soldier Diary”
24 year old Tang Liaoliao has a very 80’s style name. 4 years ago his family immigrated to US, Tang got an English name, Arthur, a heroic name. He attended community college, helped out at the restaurant delivering food. After two years in America, Tang ignored his mother’s stern objection and enlisted. “In America, young people rely on themselves. People look down on you if you’re with your parents.” Tang said to enlist in America one only needs high school education and green card.
“Some classmates ask, did you join the military for American citizenship? Actually, US citizenship is not the most attractive thing.” Tang said, in addition to US citizenship, enlisting in the military earns bonuses, from 10,000 to 40,000. Also, once enlisted, immediate family’s medical insurance is picked up by the unit. This is not a small benefit in America, where medical care is expensive.
University tuition in America is not cheap either, especially private school. Uncle Same tells him, after serving your term, you qualify for up to 85,000 in tuition and living expense. If you want to buy a house or start a business, the military provides 417,000 in low interest loan. After 20 years of service, your salary stays in reserve. Should something happen to you, there are 400,000 of life insurance…
What enticed Tang most is the sizable tuition after service. It’ll help his parents save a lot of money. He signed a 3 year enlistment. After his term he plan to attend flight school and become a pilot.
Frontline story: Not afraid of exchanging fire, but “roadside bomb”
“Since the beginning of Iraq war, over 100 soldiers from my base have died , 1 from heart attack, 4 car accident, 5 killed by light weapon. The rest all died because of roadside bomb. Of all the casualty in Iraq, great many are due to IEDs” – quote from “My American Soldier Diary”
Beginning of last month Tang Liaoliao’s infantry division moved from California to Kuwait for training. Tang said, Kuwait is not completely safe. In the middle of October, Tang was transferred to Basra for two weeks of duty. Even then there were some sporadic RPG hits, “they can reach the base.” But what Tang worries most are the “IEDs”, roadside bomb/mine. “What frontline soldiers afraid of most, is not the 120 degree weather, not the sandstorm, not exchange of fire. Privates fret convoy duty the most, in another word afraid of, is Iraqi insurgent’s home-made explosives. Not only are they powerful, they’ve improved very quickly, it’s shocking even to our explosive experts.”
Tang’s command, “Chin” encountered IED before. Last year, Chin was ordered to a check point. Chin drove there and an IED exploded at an intersection. Luckily, Chin received minor injury to the leg and healed in a week. The camera on the Humvee recorded everything. “Every time I watch it, I’m scared.”
Tang said, his unit is a global village, with people from 7 different countries. Nights in the desert is lonely, and people make a lot of phone calls. It’s interesting to hear 7 different languages at once. Luckily, Tang’s unit went to Kuwait for training, and the stint in Basra were temporary, he did not encounter much frontline danger.
Tang Li, Tang Liaoliao’s aunt in Chengdu, said Tang is an only-child, finished 1st year college in Chengdu. He was spoiled and relied on his parents, “but after going to America he’s changed.” Tang Li said, Tang is a thoughtful lad now. Every year there are paid leave to anywhere in the world, but every time Tang chose Chengdu. He will once again vacation in Chengdu next January.
(Photos provided by Tang Liaoliao and family)