163rd Ordnance Soldiers celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month

By Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley
15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq – The 163rd Ordnance Detachment, 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), hosted an Asian Pacific Heritage Month observance May 14 at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent here.

The observance included a reading of the presidential proclamation for Asian Pacific Heritage Month, a short history of Asian Pacific heritage, a documentary about the Asian-American 442nd Infantry Regiment during World War II, and words by guest speaker Sgt. 1st Class Joseph I. Padilla, first sergeant with the 163rd Ord. Det. and a Yigo, Guam, native.

President George H.W. Bush lengthened the Asian Pacific Heritage observance from a week to a month in 1990. It occurs in May because the first Japanese immigrants touched U.S. soil May 7, 1843, and the Transcontinental Railroad, which was built, in large-part, by Chinese immigrants, was completed on May 10, 1869.

“I call upon all Americans to learn more about the history of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities,” said President Obama in his Asian Pacific Heritage Month proclamation.

Spc. Phatsara Chanthanivong, a wheeled-vehicle mechanic with the 163rd Ord. Det. and a Mira Loma, Calif., native, read a brief history of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans.

Thousands of Chinese citizens immigrated to the United States during the California Gold Rush in the 1800s. The Philippines came under American control after the Spanish-American War in 1899, which prompted many Filipinos to immigrate to the United States. About 130,000 refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos sought safety in the United States after the Vietnam War. Many Asian and Pacific Islanders faced hardships in the United States over the years such as discrimination, poverty and disease, he said.

Action movie star Bruce Lee, physics Nobel Prize winner professor Steven Chu, musician Yo-Yo Ma and designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., Maya Lin, are just a few of the many Asian-Americans that have made significant contributions to society.

This year’s Asian Pacific Heritage Month theme is “diverse leadership for a diverse workforce.”

“It brings to mind all those who have given their all and sacrificed their life for everything they believe in for our country,” Padilla said. “Our armed forces are comprised of different ethnic backgrounds that make our armed forces a diverse workforce with … different styles of leadership that make this country great.”

Padilla said he originally intended to select one Asian Pacific hero to talk about, but felt that would be a disservice to the rest not mentioned.

Capt. Brent Crosswhite, chaplain with the 15th STB and a Blanchard, Okla., native, praised the event for being well-organized and interesting.

“It’s important to do these things because we celebrate the diversity of mankind,” he said. “By celebrating diversity, we create unity.”

 

news photo
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph I. Padilla (left), first sergeant with the 163rd Ordnance Detachment, 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Yigo, Guam, native, speaks at an Asian Pacific Heritage Month observance May 14 at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent at Contingency Operating Base Q-West, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joel Wright)

news photo
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph I. Padilla, first sergeant with the 163rd Ordnance Detachment, 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Yigo, Guam, native, speaks to a Soldier after an Asian Pacific Heritage Month observance May 14 at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent at Contingency Operating Base Q-West, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley)