Combat, Comedy & Feeling the Laugh Again – A Conversation with U.S. Army veteran, comedian, and musician Thom Tran

Thom Tran wears many hats, just like his dad. He’s a retired U.S. Army staff sergeant and paratrooper, a first generation Vietnamese-American, a Purple Heart recipient, and a ‘triple-threat’ entertainer - an actor, musician, and comedian. Thom’s father was a pilot in the South Vietnamese air force, and was a POW for three years before escaping, getting his family to a refugee camp, and then later immigrating the whole family to the U.S. Growing up, Thom wanted to be a punk rocker (specifically, Van Halen), but instead joined the army at 18, retiring from active duty after being shot in the head during his first deployment. After returning, Thom channeled his love of rock n’ roll and comedy into a professional career as a stand-up comedian, and uses this platform to deal with the lifetime of war and trauma he and his family has faced. Thom has done so much for others in both his military and comedy careers, including founding GIs of Comedy, described as a “comedic troupe of troops.” He does such a great job at making people laugh, and relies on comedy to do the same for himself. The music heard in this episode is a live recording of Thom’s band The Bridge Crüe playing Eddie Money’s song “Shakin’”.


If you are your loved one is experiencing any emotional, mental health struggles, you are not alone and please contact Home Base at (617) 724-5202, or visit  

Theme music for Home Base Nation: "Rolling the tree" by The Butler Frogs
Music within episode provided by Thom Tran, live cover Eddie Money's song "Shakin'," performed by Thom's band The Bridge Crüe
Comedy clips of and provided by Thom Tran, live recording of a performance at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, CA

Follow Home Base on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn

The Home Base Nation Team is Steve Monaco, Maureen Roderick, Laurie Gallagher, Karianne Kraus, Lucy Little, Taylor Orlando, with COO Michael Allard, Brigadier General Jack Hammond, and Peter Smyth

Producer and Host: Dr. Ron Hirschberg
Producer, Sound, Editor: Lucy Little
Chairman, Home Base Media Lab: Peter Smyth

Home Base Nation is the official podcast of Home Base Program for Veterans and Military Families, a partnership of the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Red Sox Foundation. To learn more and connect with us at Home Base Nation: To Donate to Home Base where every dollar goes to the care of veterans and military families that is cost to them, go to:

The views expressed by guests to the Home Base Nation podcast are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by guests are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Home Base, the Red Sox Foundation or any of its officials.