Life's Experiences Shape Chinese-American Leader in the Pacific

Story Number: NNS090824-06Release Date: 8/24/2009 4:21:00 PM
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By Bill Doughty, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The new deputy chief of staff for logistics, fleet supply and ordnance at U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) is prepared to talk about diversity.

Capt. Jonathan A. Yuen, who reported in August to PACFLT headquarters, is a second generation native of San Francisco and the grandson of Chinese immigrants.

Recently selected for rear admiral, Yuen will soon be one of limited Asian-American flag-rank officers in the Navy, and he already has shown interest in participating in outreach speaking opportunities around the Pacific to discuss diversity in the Navy.

"I have been very blessed. If I have the opportunity to share my story with someone who wants to listen, I'm willing," said Yuen.

Yuen defines diversity as more than something skin deep.

"We fixate ourselves on ethnicities as opposed to culture. But, diversity is so much more complex than that. When we think about diversity we need to consider demographics, like age or what region of the country or even world someone is from or has lived. The kinds of life experiences we have significantly mold who we are and what we can contribute to others," said Yuen.

"We need to look at whether they're a civilian, active-duty, Reservist, retiree and try to understand what makes us different and work to combine our varying expertise for the greatest benefit. In understanding our differences, we are also able to identify the many ways we are alike and can then create new opportunities and shared experiences," said Yuen.

Previous generations felt pressure to completely assimilate. Yuen's parents did not speak or teach Chinese in the family. However, Yuen did study the language at the U.S. Naval Academy.

"Today, times have changed, and it is wonderful. Instead of a melting pot, we now have a salad in America, where we can sample, savor and even celebrate the different flavors," said Yuen.

Professionally, Yuen says his goals at PACFLT are simple - support the commander's intent.

"At the end of the day we need to be able to answer 'all bells' when PACOM (U.S. Pacific Command) tells PACFLT what needs to be done.

"We also need to understand what the fleet requirements are and meet the needs of the fleet," said Yuen.

Yuen's diverse duty stations include Pacific stints aboard USS Constellation (CV 64) in San Diego from 1987-1989 and aboard Fleet and Industrial Supply Center (FISC) Yokosuka, Japan, as the director of the customer support department and then executive officer of the command.

He has served in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and has seen firsthand the dedication of service members and Department of Defense (DoD) civilians serving in Iraq.

"I am absolutely in awe of the young men and women on the front lines making incredible decisions day in and day out," Yuen said.

"Most of them are grandkids of the 'greatest generation.' They will be the leaders 10 or 20 years from now. They get it. Because of them, I'm excited about the future," added Yuen.

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