Executive Committee

VAAFA Chairman and Executive Director

Mr. Ross Nguyen (Lieutenant Colonel, US Army-retired)

Ross Nguyen is VAAFA’s Chairperson and Executive Director as of 1 October 2012.  As the Executive Director, Ross provides leadership, guidance, and support to all VAAFA Deputy Directors and Regional Leaders so they can perform their assigned duties.  As the Chairperson, Ross is the voice of the VAAFA Board of Directors in their roles of shaping VAAFA strategic mission, goals, and directions.

Ross retired from the United States Army after 28 years of Active Duty as Lieutenant Colonel of the Corps of Engineers in May 2012.  In his last active duty assignment, Ross was the Executive Officer for the Deputy Director for Requirements, Joint Staff J-8.    During his time in the United States Army, he was Platoon Leader, Company Commander, Battalion Operations Officer, and Battalion Executive Officer.  He also served in numerous staff officer assignments from Division, to Army, to Corps of Engineers District and Headquarters levels, to SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Power Europe), then to the Department of the Army Staff.  In 2005, Ross volunteered to deploy to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He was assigned as the Engineer Force Protection Officer for the Multi-National Forces Iraq (MNFI).  During this tour of duty, Ross conducted force protection assessment in over 40 Forward Operating Bases throughout Iraq.  In his last four months, he was assigned as the chief engineer force protection officer for the Iraqi Tier-2 (all Iraqi legislative officials).

Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Ross Nguyen is a graduated of Oklahoma State University in Mechanical Engineering, and received his MBA from the University of Maryland System in Mons, Belgium.  He received his commission as an officer from the Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia in April 1984.  As a senior Captain, Ross was the first Vietnamese-American Commissioned Officer to receive the prestigious General MacArthur Leadership Award from the United States Army in 1993.

Ross was born in Ban Me Thuot (Central High Land), South Vietnam.  In 1975, he and his family became the first Vietnamese refugees to settle in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Ross now lives in Springfield, Virginia outside Washington DC with his wife, Dr. Tearrah Cristiani-Nguyen, and four children.  His third child, oldest son, Vincarlo Nguyen, is a third year cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

VAAFA Deputy Executive Director

Commander Mimi Phan, USPHS

In 2005, CDR Phan received her commission to the United States Public Health Service as a Senior Assistant Pharmacist.  Her first assignment was with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Office of Executive Program, where she was the Designated Federal Officer for 3 of 16 FDA advisory committees in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.  In 2008, she transferred to the Office of Translational Sciences (OTS), where she served as a Senior Regulatory Review Officer.

In 2010, CDR Phan transferred to the Department of Defense-Health Affairs, Tricare Management Activity, Military Health System Cyberinfrastructure Services (DoD-HA/TMA/MCiS) as the Chief for Quality Improvement and Risk Management.   Two years later, CDR Phan transferred to another program office within TMA, the Interagency Program Office, where she is currently serving as the Chief of Clinical Specialties.

CDR Phan is a member of the Rapid Deployment Force, PHS-2 (Second 2 None!), and her team consisting of 127 officers, where she is the Deputy Chief for the Planning Section.  In this capacity, she oversees 4 branches: Documentation, Officer Readiness, Resource Planning & Situation and Mobilization.

CDR Phan’s awards and decorations include: Joint Services Achievement Medal, PHS Achievement Medal, PHS Special Assignment Medal with One Bronze Star, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, PHS Response to Crisis Medal, PHS Unit Commendation Medal with One Silver Star and One Bronze Star, PHS Field Medical Readiness Badge, PHS Basic Officer Training Ribbon,  2010 FDA, Scientific Achievement Award: Outstanding Inter-center Scientific Collaboration and 2009 FDA, Scientific Achievement Award: Excellence in Analytical Science.

CDR Phan graduated from Howard University, College of Pharmacy, with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 1999, and completed the pharmacy general practice residency the following year at Inova Fairfax Hospital, Falls Church, VA.

VAAFA Deputy Director for Operations

Commander Tuan Nguyen, USN

CDR Tuan Nguyen, USN has served in the United States Navy for 28 years as an intelligence officer, communications officer, program manager, and acquisitions officer. He lives in Virginia Beach, VA with his wife Khanh and two sons.

VAAFA Senior Enlisted Advisor

Mr. John Tran (Master Chief Petty Officer, US Navy-retired)

STGCM (SW/IUSS) John T. Tran immigrated to United States in April 30, 1975 at the age of 13.  He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1980, after graduating from Mastbaum Vocational Technical High School in Philadelphia, PA.  Upon completion of Boot Camp and Apprenticeship Training at Great Lakes, IL., Master Chief reported to USS SIERRA (AD 18) home-port in Charleston, SC., he worked in the Ship’s Serviceman rating and completed his first deployment to the Indian Ocean.

In 1985, after completing Navy Veteran training at Great Lakes, IL.,

STGCM (SW/IUSS) Tran reported to USS INDEPENDENCE(CV 62) and worked as a Boatswain Mate and Interior Communications Electrician, then advanced to Surface Sonar Technician Third Class Petty Officer.

In 1987, after completion of Sonar Technician “A” school at Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center (FLEASWTRACEN) in San Diego, CA.  Master Chief Tran reported onboard USS CARR (FFG 52).  He made a Persian Gulf deployment and was promoted to Petty Officer Second Class.  He worked as a Sonar Operator and Damage Control Petty Officer.   In 1989, STGCM (SW/IUSS) Tran reported to his first tour of shore duty, Naval Station Philadelphia Brig and Correction Custody Unit (CCU) and qualified Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) while on shore duty.

In 1992, Master Chief Tran completed more Sonar training at FLEASWTRACEN.  In 1994, he had orders to Pre-Commission Unit USS RUSSELL (DDG 59) and moved to her home-port in Pearl Harbor, HI. in August of 1995.  During this tour he made two deployments to the Persian Gulf, advanced to Petty Officer First Class, and was selected for various awards including Honolulu Navy League Award, 1997 Pacific Fleet Sailor Of the Year runner up, 1997 MIDPAC, DESRON 31, and USS RUSSELL (DDG 59) Sailor Of the Year.

In 1998, he was selected to Chief Petty Officer while transiting to AEGIS Training & Readiness Center Detachment , Wallops Island, VA.  He was assigned as an instructor for the Underwater Fire Control System for Combat Information Center Team Trainer.  He qualified as Master Training Specialist, was awarded the AEGIS Theater Combatant Excellence award, and advanced to Senior Chief Petty Officer.

In 2001, STGCM(SW/IUSS) Tran completed the Combat System Senior Enlisted course then transferred to the USS O’BANNON (DD 987) in Mayport, FL.  He served as the Combat System Department Leading Chief as well as ASW Leading Chief, also made the US-South American Allied Naval exercise (UNITAS) deployment.

In 2004, Master Chief Tran reported for duty onboard Naval Ocean Processing Facility Dam Neck and served as the Operations Leading Chief.  His department was a major key contributor in the 2006 Admiral Waller’s award. He completed the Senior Enlisted Academy course at Newport, RI., qualified Integrated Under-Sea Surveillance System (IUSS) warfare and advanced to Master Chief Petty Officer.

In March 2007, Master Chief Tran reported to Surface Warfare Development Group where he served as ASW Directorate Leading Chief.  He participated in countless complex ASW exercises, trained fleet war-fighters in up to date tactics, and enhanced fleet ASW readiness.  In April 2010, he volunteered as a linguist and member of the recovery team for the search of Prisoner Of War(POW)/Missing In Action(MIA) remains in the jungle of Viet-Nam.

STGCM (SW/IUSS) Tran’s personal awards include: the Navy Meritorious Medal, Commendation Medal (5), Navy Achievement Medal (2), Expert Pistol and Rifle Medal.  He earned an Associate’s Degree from Excelsior College, a Bachelor’s Degree with Southern Illinois University, and a Master’s Degree from Troy State University.

STGCM (SW/IUSS) John Tran is married to Patricia and has three daughters: Danielle, Michelle, and Brittany.

VAAFA Deputy Directors

Deputy Director for Membership and East Coast Lead (based in Washington DC area): LCDR Mimi Phan, US Public Health Service

Deputy Director for Operations and Central Region Lead (based in Houston, TX): Major Quoc-Anh Tran, US Army Reserve

Deputy Director for Finance (Vacant)

Deputy Director for Logistics: Chief Warrant Officer-5 Kim Pham-Cieliesz, US Army

Deputy Director for Information Technology (Acting): Mr. Thanh “Tino” Dinh (Former Captain, US Air Force)

Deputy Director for Public Affairs: Mr. Thanh “Tino” Dinh (Former Captain, US Air Force)

2015-2017 Board of Directors (nominees as of August 2014)

Co-Founders (lifetime member) – USNR LCDR Chris Phan and USA LTC Thomas “Tho” Nguyen

Former Chairperson – USAR MAJ Triet Bui

Former Executive Committee Members – USAF Capt(sep) Tino Dinh and USAF Capt(sep) Hien Vu

Active Member – USA 1SG(ret) Thanh Stough

Senior Commissioned Officer Advisor – USA COL Tuan Ton

Senior Enlisted Advisor – USA CSM Phong Tran

USA Representatives – LTC Thomas Nguyen & MSG Thien Doan

USMC Representatives – LtCol Tuan Pham & MSgt Joseph Pham

USN Representatives – CAPT Huan Nguyen & LSCS Kory Tran

USAF Representatives – Colonel Michael Phan & CMSgt Huy Vu

USCG Representative – LCDR Brian Ly

USPHSCC Representative – CDR Mimi Phan

NOAAC Representative – LTjg Linh Nguyen