Second Chance at Life, A
Author: Brian Huynh Travis
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation (2010)
Binding: Paperback, 178 pages
An exciting, memorable, historical memoir awaits everyone as author Brian Huynh Travis releases, through Xlibris, A Second Chance At Life. Readers will dip into the author's life as this book takes them to his amazing journey. A Second Chance at Life is a remarkable historical memoir that represents the life and adventures of the author. In this inspiring account, the author tells about his life--from childhood, to his treacherous boat journey as he and his two older siblings escaped from Vietnam, to beginning a new life in America, and becoming successful. He relates his family, struggles, adventures and misadventures, his different careers, his various experiences at war, public service, and so much more. This is an absolute revelation of how his life travels from one simple step towards achieving a new, healthy, and prosperous life. Through A Second Chance at Life, readers will find inspiration and hope as they travel through life.
Escape From Vietnam
Two weeks after I married an American fighter pilot who’d flown over the war torn land of Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, an eight year old boy from Vietnam landed at Travis Air Force Base in California. The year was 1979, and young Hung Van Huynh – who later changed his name to Brian Huynh Travis--, was getting his second chance at life. While I was adjusting to life as a military wife, this young Vietnamese refugee who didn’t speak a lick of English was adjusting to life in America.
Almost thirty-two years later, long after my husband retired from the military, I “meet up” with this former refugee in the pages of his moving memoir A Second Chance at Life. Born in a taxi to parents who owned a fish sauce factory in South Vietnam, the author writes about fleeing under the cover of darkness, with an older sister and brother, in a small fishing boat packed with people and little food and water. The youngest of eight children, the author remembers being homesick for his parents who have stayed behind until they can raise enough money to get the rest of the family out. Two years earlier, in 1977, an older brother named Thai tried to escape from Vietnam on a boat and was never heard from again. The author’s mother never stopped grieving for her lost son.
In the early chapters, the reader learns about the assimilation process, the difficulties of being poor and a minority in a world where everyone else speaks English. The author’s parents eventually fled Vietnam and made their way to California, where the family lived in a tiny apartment. In high school, the author hated wearing secondhand clothes. His family’s dependence on government assistance was embarrassing. He hungered to fit in. Despite being labeled a “Gook” and “Chinaman,” he found his way by playing sports.
The author eventually became an American citizen, served a stint in the California National Guard, earned his college degree, worked as a policeman, and became an officer in the United States Army Reserves. He is a decorated veteran of the Bosnia Conflict and the Iraq War.
My favorite chapter detailed his time at basic training at Fort Sill. He talks about getting “smoked” by the drill sergeants and performing jumping jacks buck-naked. He said, “Even the civilians bossed us around.” Anybody who’s been through basic training will feel the authenticity of his account.
A series of photographs at the end of the book tell their own story in a way that words cannot. The first picture shows the author as a baby next to his older brother Thai. The author dedicates his book to “All the Vietnamese boat people who tragically perished on high seas during their escape attempt.” As I closed the pages of this book, I kept wondering what happened to his brother Thai.
Reviewed by: Kathleen Rodgers (2011)