Asian Pacific American Heritage Observance
Story by Pfc. Crystal Eldridge
13th SC(E) Public Affairs
Soldiers of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) observed Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with a celebration at Howze Theater here May 31.
The celebration was themed "Celebrating Decades of Pride, Partnership and Progress" and focused on the contributions of Asian Pacific Americans to society.
During the celebration, students of the U.S. Tae Kwon Do College demonstrated several techniques used in Tae Kwon Do, members of the Filipino-American Association of Central Texas Folk Dance performed several Filipino dances, the Texlanders performed Polynesian dances and Col. Ferdinand Samonte spoke on his experiences as a Filipino in the Army.
Samonte was born in the Republic of the Philippines. His father joined the Navy as a cook when Samonte was a young child and brought Samonte and his mother to Pensacola, Florida, where the seaman was stationed at the time.
The young Samonte had difficulty in learning English, but he overcame this and many other obstacles to eventually follow in his father's footsteps and join the military. But the sailor's son chose to go a different route than his father. He chose to become an officer.
While Samonte was in high school, he obtained his U.S. Naturalization. He finished high school and went on to graduate from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science Degree. He became a Reserve Officer Training Corps Distinguished Military Graduate and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps.
Throughout his military career, Samonte has served in many capacities. Among those are Joint Chiefs of Staff Intern in the Pentagon, then as Aide-de-Camp to Gen. Colin Powell who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He also served on Pres. Clinton's personal military staff during the president's first inaugural in 1992.
His accomplishments as an Asian Pacific American prompt him to remind service members the nation was built on the sweat and blood of immigrants. Immigrants did not just come from Europe, Samonte said, but from Asia and Africa and all nations across the globe.
Col. Ferdinand Samonte, guest speaker for the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)'s Asian Pacific American Heritage Celebration, tells Soldiers of the SC(E) about his heritage as a Filipino American and the contributions other Asian Pacific Americans have made to American society. Photo by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge, 13th SC(E) Public Affairs Specialist
Students of the U.S. Tae Kwon Do College demonstrate defensive techniques during the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)'s Asian Pacific American Heritage Celebration at Howze Theater here May 31. Photo by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge, 13th SC(E) Public Affairs Specialist