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NEWS | Oct. 6, 2021

First-Gen immigrant teaches Kentucky’s newest officers

By Spc. Caleb Sooter, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Capt. Timothy Wang was just twelve years old when he and his family immigrated from China to the United States. He and his family left so that his father could pursue higher education and start a new life in the U.S. They sold everything they had in China and left their previous lives behind.

Now, Wang is an officer candidate school instructor at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center (WHFRTC) in Greenville, Ky. In his prolific military career, Wang has served as both a non-commissioned officer in the Marine Corps and as a commissioned officer in the National Guard, first in Kansas, and now in Kentucky.

When asked what motivated him to pursue a military career, Wang cited his background as playing a large role in his decision.

“As an immigrant… I always felt like I owe the country something,” Wang said.

In high school, Wang watched all of his friends join the military after graduation. Watching them leave put a spark in his mind that urged him to enlist in the Marine Corps.

After achieving the rank of sergeant in the Marine Corps, Wang joined the Kansas National Guard’s accelerated officer candidate school program and commissioned as a second lieutenant. After getting deployed, Wang transferred to the Kentucky National Guard. He joined the 238th OCS Regiment at WHFRTC, pursuing the opportunity to become an OCS instructor.

Wang fondly recalls that when he applied for the position at WHFRTC to become an OCS instructor, he was only a first lieutenant. The job was reserved for a captain (O-3), but they accepted him and believed he had the potential to grow into an incredible instructor.

After two years of serving as an OCS instructor, he was promoted to captain on July 17, in a ceremony at WHFRTC.

“Captain Wang is extremely impressive,” said Capt. Chris McGhee, commander for the 238th OCS Regiment. “He’s extremely knowledgeable. I believe he is the only instructor we have in our cadre who has his instructor badge. He is very impressive with the way that he teaches the candidates, because he utilizes a lot of real-world scenarios so they can make the connection and understand how the information is important as well as how they will have to apply it as a future Army officer.”

Wang said that his favorite part about his position as an OCS instructor is seeing the difference he can make in a candidate, from when they show up, until they graduate as a qualified second lieutenant.

“Just one leader can influence hundreds of people throughout their career,” said Wang. “I’d like to be that leader.”

Wang stated his unique background had a strong impact on his outlook as a leader and his style of teaching. As a first-generation Chinese immigrant, he understands every candidate entering OCS has a particular history that allows them to bring unique skills to the Guard, which he believes is the strength of diversity in the KYNG.

“I grew up in China. I came here an immigrant, so I have a different outlook on life based on my experience,” said Wang. “Everyone has that (uniqueness), so it should be very much valued and encouraged.”

The military, much like the country it is in place to defend, builds its strength from the differences of those in its ranks.

“Anytime we get people who grew up in other cultures, [they] bring that world knowledge to the forefront,” said McGhee. “[Wang] can intertwine that and inject that experience in his teaching because he brings a different perspective… He is definitely an asset.”

Moving forward, Wang hopes to go back to U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) and bring with him the knowledge he has gained as an OCS instructor to benefit the force. He also seeks to transition into intelligence and work as a liaison officer, continuing his career for the KYNG.

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