Supervisor Bill Horn as a young marine. Image from his webiste
Supervisor Bill Horn as a young marine. Image from his county webiste

San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn, a former Marine who single-handedly helped more than 500 Vietnamese relocate to the United States after the fall of Saigon in 1975, will be among this year’s honorees at the Asian Heritage Awards.

Horn sponsored some 50 families with his own money, helping to provide housing, counseling, jobs and education for them to become successful in their new country.

“Two became medical doctors and all became very successful,” said Horn, who served in South Vietnam as an artillery officer after graduating from San Diego State University in 1966.

A native San Diegan, Horn received the Bronze Star and was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star for commanding an artillery battery under siege by the North Vietnamese in a remote area known as the Rockpile, south of the Demilitarized Zone. For shrapnel wounds sustained during the battle he also received the Purple Heart.

In the mid-1980s, he served as an agricultural and finance adviser to a kibbutz in Israel, and after returning to San Diego served as a member of the Escondido Union High School District Board before running for political office and wining election in 1995 to represent the county’s Fifth District, which covers some 1,800 square miles from the Pacific Ocean to Imperial County.

Other honorees include Abraham To, chairman and adviser for the San Diego Police Department’s Community Services Advisory Board, for community service; Dr. David Adler, associate dean for academic affairs for the Skaggs School of Pharmacy at UCSD, for education; Dr. Moon Chen, associate director for Population Research and Cancer Disparities at UCDavis, for science and technology; Dr. Danh Truong, chairman of the Asian Pacific Health Foundation board of directors, for medicine and health; Dr. Truong Nong, adviser to the board of the Vietnamese Culture and Science Association, for business enterprise and entrepreneurship; and Dr. Doan Dao, chairman of the National Task Force on Hepatitis B, for public health.

The theme for this year’s 14th Annual Asian Heritage Awards is “Sowing the Seeds of Peace, Justice and Success” and will be dedicated to all refugees who came to America in search of better lives.

“It’s time we took back the term ‘refugee,’” said Rosalynn Carmen, Asian Heritage Society president. “While more recent outcasts, from South America and the Mideast, have been maligned, we are reminded of the most successful refugee influx ever — the 1.5 million Vietnamese who fled their country to the United States between 1975 and 1985.”

The awards gala and ceremony will be held Saturday, April 23, at the Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.