CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- Cmdr. Paul LongMy Choate, assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) received the Viet Bao 2012 Exemplary Writing Award, Aug. 12 for a memoir of his Vietnamese background, struggles and achievements throughout his life and naval career.
Choate was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1967. He left the country in 1970 when he moved to Pineville, La., with his American father and Vietnamese mother. Throughout his story, he explains the hardships his family and friends faced in America.
"[The story] is about my whole life from when I was born in Vietnam, coming to the United States, joining the Navy, being enlisted in the Navy, and then working my way up to becoming a commander," said Choate, who is the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department's Maintenance Officer on board Carl Vinson. His memoir also includes "the struggles and barriers I had to overcome to still succeed."
In 1986, Choate joined the Navy as an aviation electronics technician. Ten years later he achieved his goal of becoming a commissioned officer. In September 2011, he was promoted to commander.
"This is my highest goal and after 25 years it has been achieved. Becoming a commander, I felt the same joy as when I got married or when coming home from Iraq," Choate wrote.
"I have several aunts who are writers. When I was promoted to commander, [my aunts] came out to San Diego and they thought that would be a good story, so they wrote a story about me being promoted to commander," said Choate.
The story was later published in Viet Bao's daily newspaper online. It is North America's largest Vietnamese newspaper. "The editor of the newspaper saw that story and wanted to know more about my career," said Choate.
Choate had never really written anything outside of his requirements for his school and work responsibilities, but with encouragement from his aunts he set out to write his story. Without telling him, his aunt translated it into Vietnamese and entered it into Viet Bao's writing competition, Writing on America.
Choate attended Viet Bao's "Writing on America" awards ceremony unaware he had a submission. It wasn't until the awards presentation when his memoir was announced as one of the top three submissions in the competition that Choate realized he had won.
By the close of the awards ceremony, Choate received a Certificate of Congressional Recognition from U.S. Congressman Loretta Sanchez, a 2012 Exemplary Writing Award Certificate of Recognition signed by State Senator Lou Correa, a Certificate of Recognition from State Senator Alan Lowenthal, a California Legislature Assembly Certificate of Recognition from State Assemblyman Jose Solorio, a Certificate of Congratulations from Westminster, Calif. Mayor Margie L. Rice, and $1,500.
Choate's autobiography is currently featured on Viet Bao's website where already more than 30,000 people worldwide have read it.
"Life in the U.S. Navy is sometimes a life of hardships, but it is also interesting," wrote Choate in his memoir. "I love the smell of the ocean, the feel of the ship when it moves through the water, the companionship of the crew, and most importantly is the understanding that what we do in the sea directly protects our country."
Choate's award-winning memoir can be found at: http://www.vietbao.com/D_1-2_2-122_4-193948_5-15_6-4_17-65_14-2_15-2/.
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