Imagine this: a young, local Marine is deployed to the hot, punishing jungles of Vietnam during the war, serving 13 months in a foreign land, thousands of miles from home. He returns stateside safely… only to be deployed a second time, back to the blistering heat and densely forested highlands. On this deployment, he is captured by the enemy, tortured and imprisoned. After nine months he escapes, returns home, and remarkably, deploys for yet a third time to Vietnam.
Already, Master Sergeant Louis T. Deshaies has quite a story. But this real-life hero’s tale is only just beginning.
On that third tour, Deshaies and fellow Marines were patrolling the streets of a small village after a night of air raids and bombings. They came across a local orphanage and saw nearby, underneath debris and wrapped in weathered canvas clothing, was a baby girl.
Deshaies lifted the infant from the debris and was told the infant’s name was Lucia Thi Thou Thong, translated in English, “autumn perfume.” For the next year, he would return to the orphanage to check on the baby, eventually deciding– along with his wife—to adopt her and bring her home. On July 3, 1969, Louis Deshaies and his now daughter, re-named Cyndi, arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport.
“I was the second baby to be adopted from overseas to the United States. I feel honored to be given this opportunity and blessed for having two parents who loved me and brought me into their family here in Leominster,” says Cyndi Deshaies. “My dad sadly passed away 17 years ago due to Agent Orange from his service in Vietnam. He was only 64 years old. He was truly my hero.”
In his memory, Cyndi Deshaies is participating in Boston’s 2018 Run to Home Base presented by New Balance on July 28th. The Run is the biggest fundraising event for Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program. Home Base heals the invisible wounds of war such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury for Veterans, Service Members and their Families.
“(My father) suffered from PTSD,” explains Deshaies. “I love running for this cause, it is the best feeling that I can have helping others and at the same time to honor my father, Master Sergeant Louis T. Deshaies.”
The charity race is a 9K run/5K walk that begins and ends inside Boston’s Fenway Park. Participants finish by crossing home plate.
“The Run to Home Base is an exciting, fun event—but it is also meaningful,” said Home Base’s Executive Director Brigadier General (ret.) Jack Hammond. “The funds raised help enable Home Base to provide individualized, innovative, world-class care on a local and national level—regardless of discharge status or ability to pay. Participating in the Run to Home Base is a great way to give back to those who have served our country.”
To donate to Deshaies’ fundraising efforts in support of Home Base, visit homebase.org/deshaies.
Registration and event information for the 2018 Run to Home Base presented by New Balance is available at www.runtohomebase.org. Pre-registration and a minimum fundraising commitment is required.