MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- A competitive spirit leads many people to join the Marine Corps. That same spirit pushes other Marines to separate themselves from their peers.
This spirit is what drives one Marine to train two or three times each day, and compete at every level of her career. It is why 1st Lt. Thuymi Dinh is being recognized as Camp Pendleton’s Female Athlete of the Year, and why the Marines that know her aren’t surprised she’s earned the award.
Dinh, the communications officer for 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, has competed in approximately 12 triathlons, represents the Camp Pendleton Triathlon Team and is competing for the second year with the All-Marine Triathlon Team.
Her competitiveness can be traced back to her early years. A multiple sport athlete at John F. Kennedy High School in La Palma, Calif., Dinh’s parents pushed her to excel in academics and athletics.
“My parents started with putting me in swimming and tennis and even martial arts,” said Dinh, a native of Anaheim, Calif. “Then at school they snagged me up for the track and cross country team.”
Dinh would sometimes be forced to balance three sports in one day because of her busy schedule.
She continued her athletic career while she attended the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. With the academic demands that come with attending the academy, Dinh focused solely on swimming.
It was while at school Dinh was first introduced to Marine Corps officers.
“There was something about the Marine Corps officers and how they carried themselves,” Dinh said. “Even if I didn’t know them personally, their reputation always preceded them. I noticed overall they were more physically fit, more driven and very detail oriented and that was the type of leader that I wanted to be.”
Now an officer herself, Dinh’s reputation is preceding her.
“The first things I heard about 1st Lt. Dinh before I got to know her was she’s a motivator, very hard working and detailed about her job,” said 1st Lt. Miko Gordon, the maintenance management officer with the battalion.
Gordon quickly learned about Dinh’s reputation in the gym and the pool, as well.
“I was almost afraid to work out with her at first,” Gordon said. “She’s definitely willing to help someone out, but physical training wise, (Marines) better be ready.”
Dinh takes her job as seriously as her rigorous training schedule.
As part of an artillery battalion, 1st Bn., 11th Marines, Dinh is frequently required to go to the field. Her job as a communications officer is vital to artillery to ensure the gunline, the fire direction control center and the forward observers are in constant communication with each other.
“I want to make sure that my section is as mission ready as possible,” Dinh said. “This unit goes to the field a lot and I want to lead by example.”
While Dinh doesn’t have much time to train in the field, she does what she can. This last year, to celebrate the Marine Corps birthday she performed 238 burpees during down time at an exercise.
One day Dinh hopes to compete in the ultimate competition for triathlon athletes, an Ironman Triathlon. The event is a grueling 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bicycle ride and a 26.2 mile run. But that goal will have to be put on hold as she balances the demands of a Marine Corps career.
Dinh will be deploying to the International Joint Command in Afghanistan for approximately six months. Her training will have to take a hiatus as she focuses on the next challenge, but she is sure her competitive drive will bring her back to triathlons when she returns.