“My grandfathers were in WWII, and I grew up having an awareness of WWII and appreciation of their service to the country,” said Cadet Brandon Louie, Bronco Battalion Commander of the AROTC (Army Reserve Officers Training Corps) at Santa Clara University.
A California native and sixth-generation Chinese American, Louie was one of 16 AROTC cadets attending the American Legion Post 419 ceremony honoring 97-year-old WWII veteran Al Tortolano.
Louie’s maternal grandfather, Arthur Wong, was a WWII U.S. Army Air Corps mechanic. Born in Oregon, Wong was part of a bi-lingual Chinese-American team serving in the China, Burma, India Theater. The team supported the Flying Tigers — American pilots who volunteered to fight in the Chinese Air Force against the Japanese invasion of China.
Louie’s paternal grandfather, Milton Louie, was born in San Francisco. He served as part of the occupation force in Germany after WWII. Both grandfathers are deceased.
Louie, who doesn’t speak Chinese, and his two brothers were raised in Fremont, where he recalls watching old WWII movies with his family. He offered conjectures about his forebears in America.
“They likely came around the 1860s because of the gold rush or to work on the transcontinental railroad,” he said. “Like many people, they likely came for the opportunities that this country offers. China was very poor back then, and the U.S. was the land of opportunity.”
Louie enlisted in the AROTC in 2016. One brother is an Army medic stationed in Texas.
“Service has always been a part of my life — at Fremont Community Church, Boy Scouts, community, country. Service is very important to me,” said Louie, identifying as part of the “online generation” that grew up exposed to technology.
In June, Louie will graduate with an MBA and receive his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He plans to serve in the Signal Corps.
“Signal is all about communication and connecting people, and I believe that miscommunication is the source of many of the world’s problems,” said Louie. “Miscommunication occurs when people don’t take the time to understand each other properly.”
“I hope that my career and my actions will honor and continue to honor my family members and the other soldiers who have gone before me to serve this country,” said Louie. “The United States has given many opportunities to my family, and the least I can do is give something back.”