HomeNewsArticle Display

Physician serves to honor past, present

Capt. (Dr.) Thanh Thao Le, 66th Medical Squadron physician, poses with her father, Minh Le, following her commissioning ceremony at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, in July 2011. Le, who will pin on major in July, treats a wide-spectrum of patients at the Hanscom clinic. (Courtesy photo)

Capt. (Dr.) Thanh Thao Le, 66th Medical Squadron physician, poses with her father, Minh Le, following her commissioning ceremony at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, in July 2011. Le, who will pin on major in July, treats a wide-spectrum of patients at the Hanscom clinic. (Courtesy photo)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) -- Capt. (Dr.) Thanh Thao Le, a 66th Medical Squadron physician, learned from her father the importance of honoring those who serve in the military.

Her father, Minh Le, was a 1st lieutenant in South Vietnam’s Political Warfare Branch in the 1970s during the Vietnam War.

“When Saigon fell on April 30, 1975, my father was sent to communist prison along with other military officers, government workers and supporters of the South Vietnamese government that opposed North Vietnam,” said Thanh Thao Le, whose parents were married the day before her father went to prison.

After his release six years later, her father and her mother, Thach Le, started a family in a small Vietnamese village. Her father raised pigs and her mother taught language arts in a local elementary school to support their growing family.

“My parents always worked really hard to provide a better life for their children,” said Thanh Thao Le, the oldest of four children.

She said it was through their example that she learned about service before self.

“My parents always put their children’s needs first,” she said.

While her father did not discuss his prison experiences with his children, she said, he did often say how grateful he was to the service members who traveled halfway around the world to fight in a country they knew little about.

“He often spoke about the sacrifices of those who laid down their life during that war,” she said. “He’d always tell us that we needed to find a way to pay them back.”

When Thanh Thao Le was 12 years old, in 1994, her family moved to the U.S. via a program for former South Vietnamese.
“Government officials who went to prison for more than three years were able to move here with their family,” Le said.

They lived in a crowded one-bedroom apartment for the first six months and then a three-bedroom apartment in the projects in Houston.

“Despite the financial hardships we faced, my father always reminded us that we would not be here today if it were not for the sacrifices of those who served in Vietnam, both South Vietnamese and from the United States,” she said.
After graduating from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science in biology, Thanh Thao Le attended medical school at St. Matthew's University School of Medicine.
While in-residence, two classmates who were pursuing an Air Force commissioning program invited Le to do the same. She commissioned in 2011 at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, with her father by her side.
She had found her opportunity to give back to those who served in her homeland more than 40 years earlier, and those who continue to serve.
“Some of my most memorable rotations as a medical student were treating veterans,” she said. “In the case of those who served in Vietnam, I’m especially grateful for what they did so many years ago.”
Her parents still live in Houston. Her two sisters are civilian physicians, and her younger brother is in his second year of medical school at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.
Thanh Thao Le, who will pin on major in July 2017, treats members on active duty, as well as retirees and their families.
“In family medicine we take care of a wide spectrum of patients,” she said. “I love the challenge and helping those who have served, and continue to serve, this nation bravely.”
Le said when she meets with Vietnam-era patients, and the opportunity presents itself, she thanks them for their service and lets them know how much she appreciates their sacrifice.

“If they didn’t do what they did, my siblings and I wouldn’t be practicing medicine and helping those in need of care,” she said. “They inspire me to give back to those who came before us, and those who continue to serve this nation.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
#USAF BMT is changing this #summer! #Airmen will spend more time on weapons familiarization, along w/ additions of… https://t.co/wlHwtx7XWO
#USAF #Airmen continues the process of making his childhood dream of playing professional football come true. https://t.co/iAl70c8GXS
The opening of Cargo City successfully transitions operations from the #USAF & Coalition Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Ba… https://t.co/K73PkhjpNY
RT @AirmanMagazine: It started as a dare between two pilots... The @usairforce Hurricane Hunters save lives by flying through hurricanes t…
RT @ActingSecAF: Thanks to this crew for making the right call and saving the life of a fellow service member. https://t.co/cP4KCIQFgD
The Space Test Program-2 will provide the #USAF with insight into the SpaceX booster recovery and refurbishing proc… https://t.co/qYhlj7Je9V
RT @ActingSecAF: Happy birthday @USArmy. 244 years of defending our nation. @SecArmy https://t.co/AfMoPxwbd8
RT @DeptofDefense: “They’re really noisy, but I love them.” This @USAirForce F-15 Eagle crew chief from the @142ndFW shares his motivation…
Today, America recognizes the birth of Old Glory with its own holiday. Flag Day was first celebrated in 1877 to mar… https://t.co/wqoEjdqQFy
#FollowFriday! @ActingSecAF Matthew Donovan is responsible for the affairs of the #USAF, including the organizing,… https://t.co/28IlKOKWMq
.@NellisAFB fixed wing aircrews are flight-testing new prototype helmets this summer, thanks in part to an accelera… https://t.co/4HSUGSk3Qg
The 2019 @warriorgames Opening Ceremony is set for 6/22 @AmalieArena w/@HunterHayes! Stay up to date with your… https://t.co/u34QuBnpdo
.@AETCommand's latest #podcast series dives into "Developing Mach-21 #Airmen," providing visibility on recruiting,… https://t.co/CGSHJonQAT
RT @ActingSecAF: Thanks to the support of Congress, the @usairforce is developing game changing technology. #fasterandsmarter https://t.co/…
#DYK, Flight equipment has historically been designed to fit males because there are statistically more male… https://t.co/iJnSp1pV74
.@AirForceReserve #Airmen rescues an 8yr old boy from flood waters, in Prague, Oklahoma. #USAFhttps://t.co/Y4efafIkO6
#DYK, Individuals w/ disabilities comprise a large part of the #USAF civilian force. As part of the American Disabi… https://t.co/LOP14Xhg4j
Two of #AirForce's newest aircraft complete receiver certification, moving one step closer to enhancing #warfigtherhttps://t.co/F6pvB6PEac