Alex Nguyen

Served in the Marines
Enlisted in 2007

When were you drafted or when did you enlist?

I joined the Marines in March of 2007.


Why did you choose your branch of service?

To be completely honest – and nothing against the Air Force – but it was them or it was gonna be the Marines and the Air Force [recruiters] weren’t there. They were all out to lunch but the Marine recruiters were still in there. And I was like, “Well, there’s my calling”


What do you remember about that day?

Probably my grandma freaking out when I got home. I was like, “Yeah grandma, I just joined the Marines.” I mean, she about lost it. “When do you leave?” And I was like, oh I told them I want to leave as soon as possible. So two weeks later, I’m on a flight to San Diego to boot camp.


Can you describe a happy moment from your time in the service?

A happy moment? Just being with the guys. Being with other Marines and stuff. It’s true what they say about the camaraderie and the brotherhood you get there. These are guys you go to

war with and you’ll fight alongside and you’ll die for. You build this huge unit, it’s so tight-knit. That’s what made me love the Marines.


Did your military experience inform the way you think about war or the military in general?

Finishing the job – that's the big thing. Finishing the job, doing our job right and... seeing through what we started. And for today, and for the season, really, we started with the goal of making the Super Bowl and winning it and today we finished that job. So, it definitely goes back to my military ties.


Who was your best friend in the military during your time at war? Do you still keep in touch with them today?

Oh, I’ve got a few of them. Julian Sanchez, Angel Morales, Nick Nelson – those guys, they’re all good buddies of mine. Julian Sanchez was my first roommate. We went through engineer school together, drank together, ate together. We were pretty close and I still keep in contact with them today. They’re actually planning a trip out in October, so we’re all planning on getting together soon. 

What were the first few months out of the service like?

Different. Different, because you can’t really be military anymore. You can represent the military, but you yourself can’t be part of the military anymore. You’ve got to kind of dumb it down, bring it back a little about how you talk to people. Of course, the Marines teach us to show respect but our mouths and stuff like that just kind of get us in trouble.


Do you have advice for those transitioning out of the military?

Reach out when you need help. That’s the biggest thing that I probably didn’t do when I needed the help. I never reached out and I look back now and I’m kind of like, well I’m dumb for that because all those resources are there for us. 


If you hadn’t gone into the service, what do you imagine your career life would have been? Did you explore a different career after service?

Before joining the Marine Corps, I wanted to be a chef. I love cooking. I still cook to this day. I cook... like 10-star meals – I'll just go ahead and put that out there. So, when I got out, I had no plans of going to college. I got out at the end of 2015, but fast forward eight years later, I’m a year out from graduating with my master's in clinical mental health counseling.