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Unity in diversity

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Asian/Pacific includes all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States May 7, 1843, and the Chinese immigrants that greatly contributed to the completion of the transcontinental railroad May 10, 1869.

"It’s a month to reflect on the different contributions and culture that our past has provided to our generation," said Capt. Alan Wong, 909th Air Refueling Squadron instructor pilot.

As the son of two first-generation immigrants from Taiwan and China, and the first in his family history to serve in a military, Wong values the support network provided heritage months like May.

Wong was part of an aircrew from the 909th ARS comprised entirely of Asian or Pacific-Islander heritage that flew a mission with an 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. The medical team, caring for a patient being transported to a medical facility with a higher level of care, also included numerous members with Asian or Pacific Islander heritage.

One of the medical team members, Capt. Lauren Kalani, 18th AES flight nurse, who is one quarter Hawaiian, grew up in California celebrating her heritage every May, and continues to as her military career sends her around the world.


"We were all able to come together, we all had the same goal," said Kalani. "In months like this where certain ethnicities are brought to light, it brings a sense of comradery – It brings a lot of conversation, and unity."

Kalani believes in celebrating the great things different heritages have contributed to the United States and its military branches.

“I think it’s important to highlight any heritage,” continued Kalani. “It brings you home a little bit, when you aren’t home.”