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Cambodian-Born Commander Visits His Homeland

OCEAN (Nov. 29, 2010) – Cmdr. Michael V. Misiewicz, commanding officer
of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89)
addresses the crew following a frocking ceremony held aboard the ship.
Mustin is currently conducting routine operations and training in the
Pacific Ocean. Mustin is assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 and
is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S.Navy photo by Mass
Communication Specialist 3rd Class Devon Dow)

December 3, 2010
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Devon Dow
US Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Japan

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia – Commanded
by a man who was born in the rice fields of Cambodia, the
guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) arrived in Sihanoukville,
Cambodia for a port call Dec. 3.
It has been over 37 years since
Mustin’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Michael V. Misiewicz has returned to
his homeland after being adopted by an American woman in 1973 after the
Vietnam War spilled over into Cambodia.
“We are honored to be
representatives and ambassadors of the U.S. Navy here today,” Misiewicz
said. “Very significant progress has been made this year in terms of
U.S. and Cambodia relations and my crew and I are hoping to contribute
to that forward progress of strengthening this partnership.”

During the visit, Misiewicz and
his crew of approximately 300 Sailors will engage in community service
(COMSERV) projects and other goodwill activities. Mustin Sailors will
interact and train with the Cambodian Navy, host a reception on board
Mustin for distinguished guests and participate in an overnight COMSERV
trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where Sailors will have the opportunity to
visit Angkor Wat, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
For Misiewicz this visit
reaches beyond fulfilling the Navy’s mission, it also brings him back
to where his life started and a chance to reunite with family.
His personal life story has garnered international media attention.
As a young boy growing up in
the countryside outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia during the Vietnam War,
his family allowed him to be adopted by an American woman who was
serving in the U.S. Army in Cambodia. Shortly following his immigration
to the U.S., Cambodia fell into more turmoil when the Khmer Rouge
regime came to power in 1975, causing millions of deaths in the country
in what is known today as the “Killing Fields.”
While Misiewicz has been able
to re-establish some communication with family members from Cambodia
over the years, it will be a bitter sweet reunion when he is able to
embrace and see his family and native country for the first time in
almost four decades.
“I’ve been thinking about this
visit a lot and thinking about all the emotions I will have to cope
with about returning to the country I was born in and seeing relatives
that have wanted to see me for so long,” he said. “It is important for
me to be strong and to remember and honor the sacrifices that were made
for me.”
Both Cambodians and Americans
in my young life sacrificed life and happiness so I could have a better
life. So now I am very happy and proud to lead a mission that serves to
develop a positive and persistent relationship between the U.S. and
Cambodia, laying the foundation for a long-lasting friendship between
our two nations,” Misiewicz said.
Mustin joined a unique group of
Navy ships to have the opportunity to visit the Asia-Pacific nation
since the end of Vietnam War. In February 2007, the frigate USS Gary
(FFG 51) made its historical port visit to Cambodia.
“This is my first time ever
going to Cambodia and I am very excited about getting the chance to
visit. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Machinery
Repairman 2nd Class (SW) Mickie Kitchens from Roseland, La. “I am glad
to see my captain be able to return to Cambodia to see his family and
show them what he has become, I know he is making them proud. They will
all see he is not a little boy anymore.”
While Misiewicz is humbled by
the attention on his personal life, he said the unique opportunities
the Navy and United States has provided him, made a story like his own
“Anything is possible. You can
start anywhere, any place, if you’ve got freedom and you have
opportunity like we have in the U.S., the sky is the limit,” he said.
“When you look at the U.S., you see that we are a melting pot of people
from almost every country in the world, and then if you look at the
U.S. Navy, that diversity is magnified 100 times.”
If one was to look at my crew,
they would be amazed at the different faces, cultures and backgrounds.
Every member of Mustin has a unique story of why they joined the Navy,
the hardships of their families and of themselves. I’m just one of
those stories. I am glad that I’m able to share my story so we can show
that the U.S. Navy is committed to diversity and willing to give
opportunity to those who work hard and want to succeed,” Misiewicz
Misiewicz assumed command of
Mustin in June 2009. The ship is one of seven destroyers assigned to
Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka,
Japan, as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet.

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