Spc. Hai Ming Hsia, Borough of Manhattan Community College


Hai Ming Hsia was a real New Yorker, a native of lower Manhattan’s Chinatown. He lived most of his life there in the narrow streets of New York’s best known ethnic enclave. He grew up, attended school, and went on to work while living there. He tried his hand at college, attending the Borough of Manhattan Community College, just a short walk from his neighborhood. He found work as a security guard, and he was able to attend class and work to support himself and his wife.

In 2002, a year after the fall of the nearby twin towers, Hai Ming Hsia’s wife, Yanisse, gave him the news that they were going to have a child. Realizing that his security job would not provide for three, he suspended his college goals and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was thirty three years old. Even in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, 33 was considered fairly old to enlist, especially as he chose the Infantry, one of the most physically demanding branches of service. Hai Ming Hsia was up to the challenge. He was already physically fit. His years gave him the maturity and the patience to cope with the myriad adjustments that military life requires. And he was gifted with a phenomenal ability to shoot, regularly securing the designation “Expert” and often hitting 40 out of 40 targets during his weapons qualification sessions.

As a soldier he was admired throughout the ranks of his unit, the Germany-based 2nd of the 6th Infantry. One superior described him as a renaissance man, because of his superior soldiering, his breadth of knowledge, his maturity and his all around affability. It was the latter that impressed his peers more than anything (except his supernatural shooting ability). Soldier after soldier describe his genuine friendliness, and all around good nature. People like that, who make the people around them feel good are of course welcome in any social setting. In the relentlessly intimate setting of Infantry life, people like Hai Ming Hsia, are especially valuable.

The 2/6 Infantry spent a good deal of time in Iraq. Part of the 1st Armored division, the unit was constantly rotating in and out of Iraq. After spending a year in Baghdad in 2003, their tour was extended into the summer months of 2004. In late 2005, part of the division, including the 2/6 Infantry was deployed to the Al Anbar province, the far western end of the Sunni Triangle. The 2/6 was assigned to the provincial capital, Ramadi, ground zero for the Sunni insurgency.

On August 1, 2006, while riding in a convoy in Ramadi, Hai Ming Hisa’s vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Hai Ming Hsia died of his wounds. He left behind a grieving wife, Yanisse, a 3 year old son, Brandon, and two heartbroken parents in Chinatown. He also left behind a promising college career, to which he intended to return, at a University which is surely something less without him.