NEPMU-5 Celebrates Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Story Number: NNS170606-22Release Date: 6/6/2017 4:05:00 PM
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By Lt. Jen Knapp, Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit Five Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Navy Environmental Preventive Medicine Unit 5 (NEPMU-5) recognized Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage month by hosting Ms. Liberty Zabala, a local news anchor from NBC 7, as the guest speaker for their AAPI heritage celebration, May 26.

Zabala, who spoke to NEPMU-5 staff on the impact that AAPI individuals have had on U.S. military history, is a dedicated member of the Asian-American Journalists Association where she served on the board of directors for the Los Angeles chapter and currently serves the San Diego chapter as president. Additionally she helped her father author a book detailing the contributions of Filipinos to the American military.

"It was truly an honor to be invited to speak at NEPMU-5," said Zabala. "As the daughter of a Filipino serviceman, I understand that sometimes our [AAPIs] stories go untold. So it is critical that we stand up and tell our stories and celebrate our heritage."

In addition to talking about her father's military service, she also commented positively on the diversity of the Sailors serving at NEPMU-5, including many AAPI staff members.

"NEPMU-5 is a very diverse community. It's one of our unit's strengths," said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Leonardo Carbonel, senior enlisted leader, NEPMU-5. "On a daily basis, we solve complicated problems because we have different ideas; solutions to problem that comes from the men and women of every race, cultural background, religion, and sexual orientation, and yet dedicated to the mission."

The event was very well received by all who attended and was one of the most popular events held at the command this year.

"It is important that we are able to recognize the contributions that other cultures have made to our military and country," said Cmdr. Georges Younes, acting officer in charge, NEPMU-5. "As a person who fled a war torn country and joined the U.S. military, I have a deep appreciation for the United States and the great opportunities that it has to offer. It unites people of different ethnic groups and cultures from all corners of the world in the pursuit of freedom and a better life, and that makes us strong."

After the presentation, each department designed a signature sushi roll and prepared it in a timed competition. Zabala was the celebrity judge for the contest sampling each roll before determining that the NEPMU-5 vector control department was the winner.

"Our command looks forward to taking every opportunity to build camaraderie and strength by celebrating our differences," said Younes.

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