Capt James Van Thach, Highly Decorated Disabled US Army Veteran to be Honored at Lincoln Dinner on Feb 28th
We are proud to announce that Captain James Van Thach, U.S. Army (Ret.), a highly decorated United States Army veteran, will be honored at the 141st Anniversary Lincoln Dinner for his courage, service and sacrifice to our nation. He will be this year’s recipient of the Rabbi Morton Pomerantz Veteran of the Year Award. Rabbi Pomerantz, the deceased Marine Corp and Navy chaplain, and venerated advocate of Veterans and Republican causes, was memorialized forever in the name of this esteemed award which has been presented annually to heroic Veterans from our community.
For this year’s Lincoln Dinner on February 28th, at the famous Antun’s of Queens Village, the recipient of the award is a brave young soldier who was wounded twice in the line of duty in Iraq. Captain James Van Thach is a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient, and is the first Vietnamese-American to become an advisor to the New Iraqi Army, and given the honorary title of Brigadier General by the Iraqi government. Today Captain Thach is a Veteran’s Advocate with Wounded Veteran Initiative of Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) and tours the nation speaking out about the plight of our Veterans as a Suicide Prevention Counselor.
Here is the story of this courageous young man and his heroic service to our nation. His steadfast spirit of service and sacrifice is something that all Americans can be proud of and emulate.
Captain Thach, a native of Bellerose, Queens comes from a family with a long history of dedicated military service to our nation. His father, Lt. Col. John W. Peterkin (Retired, NYPD) was honored at a past Lincoln Dinner as the Veteran of the Year for his valiant service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
After graduating from Touro Law School, Captain Thach volunteered for a two year tour of duty in Iraq where he was first injured in an IED explosion. After recovering from those injuries, he was injured again during a rocket attack, which exploded less than 20 meters from where he was standing.
In an interview Captain Thach explained why he chose a dangerous job as an Infantry Officer in active combat as a Military Advisor in Iraq, and turned down numerous lucrative private sector job offers as an educated Law School graduate of Touro Law Center. Captain Thach stated:
“My sacrifice had to be made because of the opportunities given to me from the men and women who sacrificed their lives and died for our country. I had to do the same in their honor, to protect our nation and protect the unborn of this country so that they might live in a peaceful world.”
“As a Vietnamese-American, I personally feel in my heart and soul the sacrifices of life, along with the mental and physical scars suffered by both United States and South Vietnamese servicemembers who fought to defend South Vietnam against the Communist aggression of North Vietnam.”
“I will never forget and will always honor the men and woman that served in our military to defend our nation and our allies around the world that have fought with our great military against Terrorism, Communism, and Fascism.”
During his tour of duty in Iraq, Captain Thach was awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal for establishing a military base called Combat Outpost Shocker. He initiated and supervised the construction of the $7.1 million forward operations base close to the Iranian border in order to improve border security and stop the flow of Iranian support for Iraqi insurgents. The base succeeded in saving thousands of lives in Iraq from terrorists and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard from Iran. Captain Thach’s work on this and other projects that significantly improved the capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces led him to be selected as the only foreign Officer in Iraq to be awarded the Honorary Iraqi Army rank of Staff Brigadier General on April 15, 2008.
Captain Thach, retired from the United States Army in March 2009, sustaining substantial disabilities from his traumatic injuries which were taking a daily toll on him. But, in spite of his injuries, he decided it was time to return to the war zone on Operation Proper Exit. It is a program sponsored by the Troops First Foundation which stages a meet-and-greet tours to numerous forward operating bases throughout Afghanistan with a group of wounded warriors. They speak to hundreds of military troops about their combat experiences and healing from their traumatic combat injuries despite the pain.
In May of 2012, Captain Thach was invited to participate in Team Training at Canine Companions for Independence in Medford, NY. He was matched with his service dog and now constant companion, Liz. He has been interviewed with Liz on CBS, BBC and FOX News and has been a tireless supporter and spokesperson for Canine Companions Wounded Veterans Initiative speaking to other wounded veterans about the difference an assistance dog can make in their lives and he is also an advocate against fake military imposter scams.
Twitter/Instagram/Facebook – @CaptainThach