JBPHH celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Heather Redman
  • 15th Wing Public Affairs

Since 1990, May has been designated as Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.  On May 17, the Joint Force Diversity Committee held an observance to celebrate and acknowledge the roles Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have played throughout history.

“Throughout American history Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have faced many challenges,” said Lt. Col. John Sevier, 647th Air Base Group deputy commander. “From discrimination and outright hostility based in ignorance and preconceived notions, they fought for equality and acceptance. Through persistence and determination they have increased their numbers in schools, served with distinction and valor in the military, and have become essential figures shaping policies at local, state and national levels.  It is important to remember the sacrifices they made and recognize their many accomplishments in shaping and enriching our society.”

Commemorating the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the U.S. and the day the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, this year’s theme is, “Unite Our Vision by Working Together.”

The guest speaker, retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong, is currently the director for the Pacific Region for Sierra Nevada Corporation and the Senior Advisor to the University of Hawaii. During his time in the military, Wong flew the C-141 Starlifter during the Vietnam War, took command of the Hawaii Air National Guard, and served as the Adjutant General for the State of Hawaii. After his military service, he was given the opportunity to sail on the Hokule’a during two legs of its trip around the world.

 “All of the things that influenced my life gave me a strong sense of respect, honor, integrity, and caring not only for people for my surroundings,” said Wong. “Community is not about anyone person, it’s about partnering together so our world can be a better place and we can take care of one another. This is a strong message carried by the Pacific Islanders, and is echoed in the theme for this month, ‘Unite Our Vision by Working Together.’”

The 2018 National Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month proclamation, signed by President Donald J. Trump, states this year’s National Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month is to honor the significant contributions Asian American Pacific Islander have made to the U.S.

Throughout U.S. history, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have had a major impact throughout the military.

During World War II, Filipino American women worked with the underground resistance smuggling food and medicine to American prisoners of war in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation. 

Since 1899, 33 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have received the Medal of Honor. 

Daniel Inouye served in the U.S. Army and fought in the European theater during World War II, where he single-handedly destroyed two machine gun nests and after being wounded continued to fight and lead his platoon.

The term "Asia-Pacific Islands" includes the continent of Asia; the Pacific island groups of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia; the island groups of the Western and Central Pacific, such as the Philippines and the Marianas; and Hawaii, the 50th state of the U.S. About six percent of the population of the U.S. is of Asian or Pacific Islander descent.