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Richard Hoy tells his daughter about being a Chinese-American medic in the U.S. Army

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Time now for StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative, recording and sharing the stories of service members and their families. Nineteen-year-old Angel Hoy is the same age her father was when he fought in Vietnam. Richard Hoy enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1968. She recently sat down with her father over StoryCorps Connect to ask him about his service.

RICHARD HOY: I wanted to be a war hero, and so I volunteered. Turns out, you know, I wasn't cut out to be a soldier (laughter).

ANGEL HOY: Oh, no?

R HOY: I wasn't a tough guy, and everyone was bigger than me. I realized the mistake I made. I thought, how do I get out of this? But it was too late.

A HOY: So you chose to be a medic.

R HOY: Yeah. It was all about saving a life and not taking a life.

A HOY: You know, I remember you have one really long scar down your middle and a couple of stitched-up holes in your side.

R HOY: Yeah, that's right.

A HOY: You really didn't get more detailed about the story until I was maybe 11. How would you describe it to me now that I'm 19?

R HOY: My unit was ambushed, and everybody was yelling grenade and ducking. And machine guns were going off all the time. I yelled back to pull the wounded out. And I remember during orientation, the top medic - he said anybody with head wounds most likely to die. So your job is to save the ones who will most likely live. And then I saw this one guy, Joseph (ph). He was bleeding from both sides of his head. I crawled maybe two or three steps, and I looked at Joe. I said to myself, I can't do this. I can't let him die. So I turned around, and I went up to him, bandaged both sides of his head. Then I started an IV on him. Next thing I knew, gunfire erupted, and whoever shot me also threw a grenade at me. But a bunch of guys grabbed me and dragged me all the way to the helicopter site.

A HOY: You have the Purple Heart on your license plate, and you still have the Purple Heart in your box, right?

R HOY: Yeah, that's right.

A HOY: Do you feel good about having that?

R HOY: Yeah, well, the scar on my upper right arm and all the extra holes - they've become a kind of red badge of courage because there are a few racists out there that think only white people are heroes. And so when I show my Purple Heart, even though we're American-born Chinese, that's saying, hey, we're loyal Americans, too, you know?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Former U.S. Army medic Richard Hoy with his daughter Angel Hoy from Seattle, Wash. For his service in Vietnam, he was also awarded a Bronze Star and a National Defense Service Medal. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.