USA Patriotism! ... "Showcasing Pride of America"USA theme polo shirts, t-shirts, shorts, hats, caps, swimwear, sweatshirts, hoodies, hats, jackets, under garments, and other apparel items

Home - Articles - USA's Birth - Great Patriots - Heroes - Honor Halls - Music - Photos
Poems - Quotes - Reference - Speeches - Stars for Troops - Stories - Student Patriots
Videos - New Content
About - Contact - Submit - Press - CureNow - Donate

USA Patriotism! YouTube Channel Join / Like the USA Patriotism! Facebook page
Pinterest USA Patriotism! CloutHub Channel USA Patriotism! at Flickr
USA Store! ... American / Patriotic themed gift products at USA Patriotism!

Patriotic Articles

Patritoic USA and Military Gifts from The Bradford ExchangeTough Tex USA FlagPatriotic USA Caps

From Communist Suppression To Freedom
by Linda Welz, Naval Surface Warfare Center
October 16, 2021

Sharon Nicholas, a scientist at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona Division for more than 20 years, endured many challenges while growing up in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Sharon Nicholas, a scientist at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona Division for more than 20 years, endured many challenges while growing up in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. She credits the U.S. Navy with saving her father's life following the conflict and said she strives to "Pay it forward" through her work in support of America's warfighters. (Photo by Nathan Fite, Naval Surface Warfare Center - April 22, 2021)
Sharon Nicholas, a scientist at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona Division for more than 20 years, endured many challenges while growing up in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. She credits the U.S. Navy with saving her father's life following the conflict and said she strives to "Pay it forward" through her work in support of America's warfighters. (Photo by Nathan Fite, Naval Surface Warfare Center - April 22, 2021)

The second of five daughters to former South Vietnamese military officer Tom Nguyen, Nicholas faced fear and poverty. After the fall of Saigon in April 1975, South Vietnamese men – from former military officers to religious leaders and those who worked for the American or South Vietnamese governments – were sent to learn the ways of the new government at “re-education” camps. They were given instructions to bring enough food and clothing to last them a set amount of time, but quickly learned there was no plan to ever set them free. The camps were actually prison camps, even though they were never tried, judged or convicted of any crime.

Nicholas’ father reported to the camp as ordered and was forced into hard labor for five years. Working in the forest, cutting trees by hand, and growing crops for the communist party without pay made it impossible to provide for his family, so they were left to fend for themselves.

“My mom worked two to three jobs to try to support us, and we sold what food we could grow on the streets to survive,” said Nicholas. “My sisters and I learned to cook and clean at a young age to help my mother.”

Knowing he had to do something help his family, Nguyen risked his life and fled the country to escape the communist regime, becoming one of history’s famed “boat people.” As luck would have it, the small boat on which he and other refugees fled Vietnam was eventually rescued from sea by the crew aboard USS Robison (DDG 12), a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer.

After being towed to safety on Dec. 10, 1980, Nguyen spent the next 45 days in rehabilitation in Thailand. From there, he was sent to Indonesia to establish, organize and train 27 classes of Vietnamese refugees in English as a Second Language. He finally arrived on the shores of America in April of 1982.

After his escape, the Vietnamese government monitored his family closely.

“The government kept giving us a hard time, checking our house every day,” said Nicholas. “They had watchdogs who kept asking my mother where my father was, and we had to report any visitors we had. This continued for about five years after my father left, until the Vietnam/U.S. policy was opened.”

The policy afforded Nicholas and her family a chance to leave their Vietnamese village and reunite with her father in a new land of opportunities.

“We emigrated to the United States on April 17, 1991, after I graduated from high school,” she said. “I was almost 19 years old.”

Nicholas took advantage of what she calls “The American Dream” when she and her family finally joined her father in California. It had been a long and arduous 10 years since they were separated and, though she missed her village when they first arrived, she knew she now had more educational opportunities. Having excelled in high school, she set out to pursue a degree.

In order to help support her family while applying for college and financial aid, Nicholas and two of her sisters earned cosmetology licenses. She began working in a nail salon while attending Saddleback College.

“I applied to several universities and got accepted to many, but I wanted to be close to home,” she said. “So, I enrolled at University of California, Riverside (UCR) to study mathematics and moved in with a colleague. I was able to save money to pay for my rent, car insurance, books and food from working part-time and attending school full-time.”

Her first major was biochemistry, but because her English was limited and she was good with numbers, she changed her major to mathematics. This, combined with her love of chemistry and physics, set her on her current career path.

After graduating from UCR with a bachelor’s degree, Nicholas said finding a job was difficult because most math majors continued on to become teachers or pursued advanced degrees. She continued working at the nail salon while looking for employment where her degree would be advantageous.

“A customer and some friends worked at Quest Diagnostics and told me they were looking for employees, so I applied,” said Nicholas. “It’s been 21 years, and I still work there part-time today as part of the Biochemical Genetic department.”

After working there for a year, she learned of an opening with the U.S. Navy in Corona. This was a golden opportunity for her to pay it forward; Nicholas credits the Navy for saving her father’s life when he fled Vietnam years earlier.

The timing was perfect. The Navy had just broken ground for its new Measurement Science and Technology Laboratory and needed math majors. She submitted her resume, interviewed, and embarked on her Navy career.

"I work in the calibration reliability section, where we analyze the results of nearly half a million calibrations annually,” she said. “My data analysis is used to optimize the recall periodicity of Navy test equipment, ensuring high reliability to meet ship deployment schedules at an affordable cost.”

Although there were not many women in her career field when she began, Nicholas said she considers herself lucky.

“When I started my career, we had so many people to coach me to do the work, so I was able to adapt and learn on the job,” she said. “There was a lot of support and mentoring from senior personnel. I was the only female at the time but didn’t feel any discrimination; I knocked on doors until they answered my questions. I wanted to get my job done.”

Nicholas believes it can be difficult for today’s young scientists to find that same type of help. But, like her father before her, she establishes, organizes and trains others to help them succeed.

“Today, they can learn everything online, but they don’t have a lot of opportunity to interact with senior mentors like my generation did,” she said. “I communicate, train and mentor new NSWC Corona employees to help them develop their careers.”

Nicholas said her passion is to be able to share her knowledge, give back, and mentor and coach the younger generation so they can better their lives. She’s got a long list of altruistic endeavors she takes great pride in.

Nicholas has volunteered to judge science fairs, academics and STEM projects and joined with co-workers to host multi-cultural diversity events and student career fairs. She is actively involved in the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) with a goal of helping others live the American dream. She works with FAPAC members to host leadership training, student career fairs, and facilitate the award of student scholarships.

She worked with the Vietnamese American Community (VAC) and the Free Wheelchair Mission to help raise funds for 3,000 wheelchairs that were delivered to disabled Vietnamese who could not afford them. She hosted “The Lucky Few,” an event held to honor and show appreciation for the heroes from the U.S. Navy and South Vietnamese military who saved thousands of Vietnamese refugees like her father.

Perhaps most notably, Nicholas mentored and coached a disabled girl living in rural Vietnam, Linh Nguyen, to develop a career as a tailor. This allowed Linh to teach other girls in rural areas how to become tailors, learn marketable skills and live more meaningful and purposeful lives.

During the pandemic, Nicholas and her VAC group made more than 30,000 masks to distribute to nursing homes, hospitals, local businesses, police departments and schools. She also sponsored Linh and her students in Vietnam to make and distribute 30,000 masks to their village neighbors.

“I can handle whatever comes my way, with whatever challenges and choices life presents me,” she said. “God gives me core values for my actions and decisions that keep me out of trouble, improve my confidence and self-esteem, and further my life goals.”

Nicholas married her husband, a real estate broker, in 2005. She continues her work with Quest and as a scientist with the Navy in support of America’s warfighters. Her early life may not have been easy, but the way she tells it, her journey was worth it.

“I appreciate my husband, my family, co-workers, colleagues, friends who have always been there to support me and all the people who filled the space in my life that God arranged for me to meet,” she said. “I value the great opportunities I have and the ability to live the American dream. I had the opportunity to come to America, be free, and develop my career. I want to continue to pay it forward.”

NSWC Corona Division has served as the Navy's independent assessment agent since 1964. With more than 3,900 engineers, scientists and support personnel, Sailors and contractors, NSWC Corona is located in Norco, California, with detachments in Fallbrook and Seal Beach and personnel in 14 additional locations. The NAVSEA field activity provides transparency for warfighting readiness through data analytics and assessment, engineers the fleet’s Live Virtual Constructive training environment, and assures the accuracy of measurements as the engineering advisor for the Navy and Marine Corps metrology and calibration programs.

Naval Surface Warfare Center | U.S. Navy | U.S. Navy Gifts | U.S. Department of Defense

Our Valiant Troops | I Am The One | Veterans | Citizens Like Us

Tough Tex American Flags

Satute of Liberty / Flag Mugs and Steins

American Flag Western Boots

USA, military, and other patriotic themed pullover and button down Polo shirts

Personalized Patriotic Embroidered Shirts

USA Flag and other American Theme Caps and Hats

SunSetter 20' Telescoping Flagpole with Free American Flag

US Flag Throw Blanket

American Pride: Poems Honoring America and Her Patriots! by David G. Bancroft

"Mere Chance" by David G. Bancroft

Cemetery Woods by David G. Bancroft