It’s a story usually seen in Post War Movies. US Navy Commander Michael Misiewicz of destroyer USS Mustin will be docking in Cambodia next week, with another mission in mind. It’s his first time to step on Cambodian soil after 37 years ago; he was uprooted from family, friends and homeland in order to escape the Khmer Rouge civil war.
Born in Vannak Khem, 43 year old Misiewicz battles his emotions of being finally able to return to the country stating that he had relatives looking for him for decades making the Navy commander emotional.
It was in 1973 when his father decided to have the young Misiewicz adopted by an American worker at the US embassy. The American woman was just about to leave the then boiling country in an escalation of the civil war. Misiewicz narrowly escaped being part of history, escaping the Khmer Rouge regime that claimed the lives of nearly two million people from execution, starvation and those trapped in prison camps.
Misiewicz recalled that he spent most of his life in Cambodia unaware of the impending doom. At first he was just happy that he would be going to a new world though the image of his mother weeping was forever in his memory. Then young Misiewicz even promised his mother a big house one day.
The young Cambodian then worked hard to become part of his adoptive country and even enlisted in the Navy. It was only then in the US naval academy that he learned fully of what happened in Cambodia.
Misiewicz felt guilty at being singularly saved in the family and after years of search with no success, he assumed the worse. Uknown to him, his mother and three of four other siblings were able to flee Cambodia and lived in the US in 1983. The family had been living in Austin, Texas, desperately trying to find Misiewicz. It was only 1989 later that the family was able to find him and a teary reunion ensued. However missing from the reunion, his father who was executed and his infant sister who died from malnutrition. Misiewicz remarked that his father must have made the hardest decision in his life to give up his son however Misiewicz was grateful for the wise decision.
Four decades after, Misiewicz was finally able to fulfill his promise, and bought his mother that big house in Texas.
US Navy Commander Michael Misiewicz will be spending some time in Cambodia next week. Part in reconnecting with family and part exposing his sailors through community outreach programs.