Vu Nguyen Memorial Scholarship Foundation
A California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation

Organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3)
Your donation is tax-deductible.  You will receive your 501(c)(3) receipt shortly after making your donation, and your name will be added to our honor roll page.

Vu's Story

On April 29, 1975, when Vu was only five years old, he and his family escaped Vietnam via helicopter airlift from the American Embassy in Saigon. With his family’s safety as the number one priority, Vu’s father personally biked each member of his family miles upon miles until they reached the airlift. Due to enemy fire upon the helicopter, the airlift was terminated, making Vu’s family one of the final flights of the evacuation. The Nguyen family have considered their lives a blessing and gift ever since.


After the evacuation, Vu’s family moved to the United States and eventually settled in Modesto, California. Growing up in West Modesto— a neighborhood that struggles with the plagues of gangs, drugs, and violence—Vu made sure to maximize the opportunities he had.


He was an honor student at Modesto High School, Modesto Junior College, and CSU Sacramento. While at the Sacramento Sheriff Academy, he won three of the four annual awards for his recruiting class. He was talented and truly could have been anything he wanted to be in life, and chose a life in law enforcement. Often his friends would ask, "Why law enforcement?" His response invariably was, "I want to repay a debt I owe to the country that saved my family."  Vu repaid that debt by being the ultimate professional in his career as a deputy detective with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.


On December 19th, 2007, while assigned to the Sacramento County Sheriff Department's elite Gang Suppression Unit, Vu and his partner were patrolling a community hit hard by gang violence. As they came up to a known gang house, a subject standing outside of the house ran when Detective Nguyen's vehicle approached.  A foot pursuit ensued, taking Vu and the suspect through yards and over fences. The suspect, who had a lead on Vu, jumped a fence and hid in the back yard. Ambushing Detective Nguyen, the suspect shot Vu three times. Detective Nguyen was found later by his partner, and was rushed to U.C. Davis Medical center where doctors gave all efforts in saving Vu's life. The sense of duty and service that guided his life defined his death.  His lifelong debt had been repaid in the ultimate way.


A massive manhunt followed.  Law enforcement agencies throughout the area joined the Sacramento Sheriff's Department in their search for Vu's murderer.  When found, the killer turned out to be a 16-year-old Asian gang member with a troubled past.


This individual has since been tried and convicted for life for the murder that took Vu from us. We will spend the rest of our lives trying to fill the void that this tragedy brought by honoring Vu's memory and life through our foundation.


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