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"Anyone who tells you they are not scared is lying to you." (Video interview, 21:30)

   Veasna Roeun
Collection image
Veasna Roeun [detail from video]
War: Afghan War, 2001-
Branch: Army
Unit: Detachment 1, 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division; Connecticut Army National Guard
Service Location: Bosnia; Laghman Province, Afghanistan; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Benning, Georgia
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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Unsure of his direction in life, Veasna Roeun decided to join the Connecticut National Guard as a way to both continue his education and serve his adopted country; he had emigrated from Cambodia when he was young. Roeun eventually deployed to Afghanistan as a staff sergeant with the 29th Infantry Division, Army National Guard. Predominately based in Laghman Province in Afghanistan, Roeun and his unit conducted highly stressful missions, causing Roeun to consistently feel apprehension about the safety of his soldiers and the mission at hand. Like many people serving during conflict, Roeun suffered the loss of soldiers who had become friends, but also found joy in morale-boosting experiences with his unit. Describing his relationship with his military service as bittersweet, in his oral history interview, Roeun discusses the complexity of his feelings toward his adopted country.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (111 min.)
»Photo Album  (16 photos)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Unsure of what he wanted to do; wanted to travel; initially hoped to become a marine; friend shared that he could still go to school and serve with the National Guard. (01:19) Experiences at basic training; Roeun was smaller than average; seeing bigger recruits dropping out pushed him to make it through. (01:24) Description of Afghanistan and Bagram Air Force Base; the beauty of the country; impression that the base look impenetrable and secure; curious about number of military personnel on the base who actually see combat; talk about the variety of base amenities. (02:57)
Internal and external stress in Afghanistan; feeling stressed about the mission; constantly concerned about the safety of people in his unit; issues in his own personal life; the priority of the mission and his soldiers while dealing with the external stress of roadside bombs and attacks. (01:12) Roeun recounting a highly difficult mission of escorting an Air Force colonel while eight car bombs were present; friend and fellow soldier who told Roeun he “felt safe out there”; that soldier and another friend of Roeun’s were killed during a mission; how the loss of those two soldiers greatly affected him. (12:23) Bittersweet feelings about the military; concerns about some Americans who thank him for his service because he is an immigrant and not white; how US presents democracy to other countries compared to how the US practices it at home. (02:29)

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  October 26, 2011
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