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Allison, a signal officer who joined the Guard in 2020, says this
observance reminds him of the sacrifices "of countless Asian American
families that aren’t commonly thought about or recognized." His mother
immigrated from Vietnam and attended community college and became a
pharmacist, while his grandfather, a doctor in Vietnam, worked in America
as a janitor to support his family.
Ameigh, a Guard member since 2017, says his favorite part of serving was
assisting Afghanistan refugees as part of Operation Allies
Welcome. "Honestly, I am so 'Americanized' I actually forget that I’m
Asian, so it’s a reminder that I have a background and what my great
grandfather had to endure getting over to the United States and then
eventually being able to serve our country in the Navy."
Annis is from New Zealand and enlisted in the Guard in 2008, the year
she became a U.S. citizen. "There is a kinship in the Polynesian community
in Utah. We tend to gravitate towards one another because there is an
unspoken understanding of our backgrounds and the way we were raised. There
are so few of us in the Utah Air Guard and we don’t take it for granted any
one member who shares a similar heritage."
Aquinde says his grandfather, who served in the Army more than 30 years,
inspired him to join the Guard in 2014. Highlights of his service include
helping to build a school and community center in Indonesia and COVID
mapping for the Hawaii Department of Health. "This observance is an extreme
honor that represents the heroic efforts of everyone that came before me,
who paved the way. From the unnamed leaders who overcame adversity to leave
an honorable legacy, to my grandfather, mentors, and fellow service
members. It is also a representation of those who will come after me. Their
opportunity to show the world it doesn’t matter what belief, creed, color,
or location you come from that dictates your aptitude in life. Rather it’s
your actions and character in all things. To be a small part of this is a
Blincoe has served 18 years, including in Afghanistan in 2009-2010. "I
am the first generation born in the United States to Hmong immigrant
parents. My grandfathers on both sides of the family fought alongside the
United States during the Vietnam War." She says this observance "means a
lot knowing and seeing a broad spectrum of heritages being celebrated
throughout the year to fully be aware of all the different backgrounds that
represent the United States."
Cadenhead joined the Texas Guard in 2011, influenced by her grandfather,
a retired Air Force officer. She is biracial, with a father from Bangladesh
and a mother with Scottish ties. "Observing the different cultures in the
military makes us more inclusive. There are things I learn from people
daily about their backgrounds that I would never have known. Embracing
everyone's heritage is important as a melting pot of people in the
Cai, a linguist, joined the Guard in 2003 and recently deployed to South
Korea. He calls himself "just another 'Joe' serving in the National Guard;
unique but not special." He really appreciates this observance "as an
excellent practice of freedom of speech and cultural recognition for the
minorities who live in this great nation."
Cameron's 14-year stint in the Guard included a mission to Texas to help
victims of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. She says being a part of the Arkansas
Guard is like gaining an extended family. "This program is important in
helping educate people in the United States of America about different
cultures and help everyone be more open and accepting of cultures different
from their own. For example, in Thailand we are very proud of our Thai food
and like to share the experience of a good meal with others."
Choum, a Cambodian refugee, served in the Marine Corps before joining
the Guard in 2011 to "give back and serve the greatest country in the
world." His experience with Asian culture included deployments to Japan,
South Korea and Hong Kong. This month's observance "remembers the struggles
and success of Americans of Asian descent. It is an important part of our
Cravalho joined the Guard in 2019 and loves meeting people from
different cultures and backgrounds. This observance "is important because
it recognizes the diversity found throughout the various military services.
I am ethnically Japanese and Native Hawaiian. Growing up in Hawaii, we are
blessed to have influences from different cultures. I believe this 'melting
pot' helps us see the value in those differences."
Creech joined the Army Guard in 2020 through ROTC. "I love my Chinese
heritage, but America will always be the land of my family and my home. In
China, I was an orphan with very limited opportunities. In America, I have
the freedom to pursue my dreams and protect what is important to me. I love
America and am excited to be a part of an organization with countless other
Soldiers who feel the same."
Emme has served in the military more than 30 years, joining at the age
of 17 for the college benefits, to be independent and see the world. "I am
very proud to be serving along so many other great Americans as a female
Asian-American. The military is one of the institutions where diversity is
a focus. It is slowly making changes to ensure inclusion of all groups are
equal. It is essential to continue to highlight the contributions of Asian
Americans and the many more minority groups that are not often being
Fo has served almost four years, including domestic missions for
COVID-19 and civil disturbances. An armor officer, she says this
observance "means to me that the military is taking steps to recognize
their Soldiers and is leading equality for all."
Fonua, a 17-year Guard veteran, says "having the opportunity to work
with some of our nation's best" has been the highlight of his career. He
says the diversity of the Army highlights the U.S. motto, e pluribus unum
(Out of many, one). "Our different ideas, strengthsand characteristics come
together to support the exceptional democratic ideal of unity in
Frohner became a Guardsman in 2005, joining his father, sister, two
brothers and an uncle in the Air National Guard. Just back from a couple of
weeks supporting NATO missions in Germany, his favorite military moment was
his first mission as a young Airman to Guam in 2007. Frohner was an oprhan
in Vietnam and considers this observance an opportunity to embrace "my
Asian heritage and having the opportunity to share and expose our culture
Frohner joined the Guard in 2003 and serves with his brother, Brent. He
deployed to Qatar in 2019 and has also served in Hawaii, Germany and Iraq.
He considers this month's observance "recognition that many of us with
Asian heritage have served our country past and present."
Gualdarama joined the Guard in 1999 and has deployed to Iraq and
Afghanistan. "The military is a lot like Hawaii, a melting pot of such
diverse people that can come together as a community and thrive. Diversity
is everywhere, and the fact that Hawaii was able to embrace each other
speaks volumes as to how we can strive to be as a nation and, most
importantly, as a human race."
Hara joined the Guard in 2014, building on his family's legacy of more
than 300 years of military service. "This observance period means a lot to
me. The history of not only Hawai`i but the entire Asian-Pacific region is
one that only recently has gotten exposure to the rest of the world. I hope
that by sharing a small portion of my experiences, people will try to learn
more about Asian-Pacific history on their own."
Hubbart says he joined the Guard in 2004 to learn how to become a better
person. He was a brand new sergeant when he led a team for the first time
on a 2008 deployment to Iraq. "It is really nice to recognize the culture
and heritage of the Asian/Pacific Islander people."
Since joining the Guard in 2009, Ichikawa has deployed to Afghanistan
and Germany and says seeing the world has been the highlight of her
military career. "I believe diversity of any kind makes the Army stronger.
Observing and celebrating all heritage (or group) is a great effort to
promote diversity and cohesion."
Kaa counts the "strong bonds and friendships" he has made as the
highlight of his more than five years of service in the Guard. He has a
one-word response when asked what this observance means to
Lainez, a Guardsman since 2012, joined to challenge herself and prove to
her family of Navy veterans that she could be an American Soldier. She is
deployed in Jordan as part of Operation Spartan Shield and says this
observance is a reminder "that diversity is a beautiful thing. ... My
parents created a life for us so we can be in this country with
opportunities. As a Filipino American, I can gladly say that not only did I
take the opportunity presented to me but I will continue to serve our
country with pride."
Latu says the best part of his seven years in the Guard is participating
in the state and national Best Warrior Competition. "I moved away from my
home island at the age of 15. I arrived in the United States with nothing
but a bag of clothes and extended family to greet me. Twelve years later, I
am here in Utah with much to celebrate and gratitude for a country that
recognizes my ethnicity and my culture."
Lin, a cryptologic analyst from China, has served more than 15 years,
including a deployment to Afghanistan. He joined to fast-track his
citizenship and polish his skills to go into law enforcement. His most
memorable mission was helping to serve more than 2,000 families in his
community during the COVID-19 pandemic. "As Asian Americans, we can use
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month to share our culture
with the community. We can promote all the positive contributions that our
culture offers to society."
Llanes joined the Army Guard in 2006 and the Air Guard in 2018 and has
served on COVID missions and assisted victims of Hurricanes Matthew, Irma
and Dorian. "AAPIHM means a lot to me as a first-generation Filipino
American to embrace my family’s history accomplishments and own endeavors
year-round. I am the first in my family to be in both the Army and then Air
Force, and it gives me great gratitude to be a part of awesome and
Manglona was motivated to join the Guard after 9/11 but had to wait
until he finished high school 18 years ago. He deployed to Iraq in 2006
and, recently, to Thailand as part of the State Partnership Program. "It
means the world to me to see Asian American and Pacific Islanders get the
recognition they deserve. Many people do not know that Asian American and
Pacific Islanders were also persecuted throughout history and even more so
during WWII in America."
McMichael joined in the Guard in 2010 to challenge herself. She has
deployed to Afghanistan and served on hurricane and flooding disaster
response missions. McMichael says being from Manila, "I am not treated
differently than the Soldier sitting next to me. To the Guard, we are
equal. I am recognized for what I contribute to the organization."
Nguyen joined the Guard in 2017 to repay the United States for helping
his family when they arrived from Vietnam. He says the highlight os his
service has been meeting interesting people and traveling, including a
deployment to Kuwait. "I feel very proud being who I am, as an
Asian-American with rich cultural heritage and as a service member serving,
protecting the people, community, and a country where I called my dear
home: the US of A."
Okada, an H-60M Black Hawk pilot, joined the Guard in 2006 and deployed
to Iraq in 2018-2019. "I think that it’s great that Asian heritage month
allows us to give special recognition to a group of people. As a
first-generation immigrant from Vietnam, I am proud to be able to serve and
give back to my adoptive country."
Phimphivong will mark 10 years in the Guard in December. Watching his
unit grow and witnessing the enlistment of three of his brothers into the
same wing are among the highlights of his service. Asked what this
observance means to him, he said: "That I am a second-generation American
and I bring a combined culture. I represent and try to live out American
values as an Airman and a citizen, but I still have the remnants of my
parents’ culture. Although my upbringing may be different, I will take up
arms to support and defend the Constitution because its values are
Phimphivong says joining the Guard in 2019 was a great stepping-stone in
his life. Adapting to military life was easier, he said, knowing that many
share the same struggles. "At our lowest point, we are more united than
ever." He welcomes Asian American Pacific Islander month for "prioritizing
and honoring something that is close to me and my family."
Phimphivong joined the Guard in 2019 to improve himself mentally and
physically. His favorite part of serving is "the people I came to bond
with. They showed me people from many aspects of life and broadened my
views of people." Asked about the significance of this month's observance,
he said: "Truthfully, family is a big part of our lives as brothers and I
love them. I feel that extends to those I’ve bonded with in the military as
Puri has served in the military for 22 years, with missions overseas for
Operation Enduring Freedom and in India. He also supported the 2021
presidential inauguration and, most memorably, the Hurricane Katrina
response in Louisiana. He calls this observance "undoubtedly significant
for me; a surreal moment to think back to my heritage and roots. I am also
reflecting on my journey as an immigrant from India now serving as an Army
Reyes joined the Guard in 2018 and says his favorite part of being in
the military "really is the pride of serving my neighbors and nation with
some of the best people next to me." His most memorable time in uniform was
working on the flightline in Minot, South Dakota, for more than a week in
minus 30-degree weather. Asked about the significance of this observance,
he said: "I think representation is important, and part of that is telling
Romig "fell in love with the culture of authentic leadership, what it
meant to be a part of a team, and doing something for the greater good,"
and has served in the Guard for 13 years. "This observance is special to me
because as mentioned, the cultural melting pot of our service is incredibly
beautiful to me. What other organizations can you find people putting aside
their personal differences with the understanding that we are 'One Team,
One Fight?' But at the same time, it is incredibly important for us to
honor our heritage and the things that make us different."
Saint has served in the Guard since 1996, including deployments for
Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve. Highlights include
blowing up bridges in Iraq and leading his team in saving a first
responder's life in a hasty swift water rescue during flooding in
Louisiana. This observance "makes my family proud to see our (Korean)
heritage honored. It’s important to showcase how diverse our force is so we
can learn from one another’s experiences, cultureand point of view."
Savathvongxay, a health administration specialist who hopes to become a
neurologist, joined the Guard four years ago. The highlight of his service
so far was assisting with COVID-19 testing during the pandemic. "AAPI
heritage month means remembering and honoring where we came from, the
struggles our ancestors had to go through. I may be American and grew up
with both American and Lao values, but that doesn't mean I should cast
aside my history as a means of integrating in this society."
Shimamoto has served almost 21 years, including two deployments to
Iraq. "Heritage appreciation is not something that I just decide to do one
day; it is something that I do every day. This observance allows others
that are not around Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders an opportunity to share
and understand our traditions, beliefsand ways of life."
Singh has served the Guard for 18 years, in New York, Nevada and Texas,
and has deployed overseas several times. This month's observance "means a
lot because after 17 years in service, I was able to receive a religious
accommodation to serve my faith and the country at the same time."
Wang has been in the Guard more than six years. The highlight of his
service has been surviving Ranger School. "I am the first-generation
immigrant in my family. I always have a sense of duty and believe that
serving in the military will be a unique chapter in my life."