WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy joins the nation in celebrating the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month throughout May.
The Navy encourages commands to embrace this year's national theme "Walk Together, Embrace Differences, Build Legacies."
This year's three imperatives serve to promote equal representation and to remove barriers in developing diverse leaders, acknowledging the challenges that still exist today.
"I'm proud to be part of the tremendous history of Asian-Pacific Americans who've served our Navy and our nation -- Navy leaders and heroes like Gordon Chung-Hoon, Robert Kihune, Ming Chang, Raquel 'Rocky' Bono, Bette Bolivar, Pete Gumataotao, Alma Grocki and Brian Losey," said Adm. Harry Harris Jr., commander U.S. Pacific Command, and the highest ranking Asian-Pacific American in U.S. Navy history. "Americans of Asian-Pacific descent hold no monopoly on dreams and aspirations. We simply want to be successful on our merits and not held back by our genetics. So as we remember the accomplishments of Asian-Pacific Americans this month, let's celebrate that our Joint Force is a team where men and women of every race, religion, economic background, and sexual orientation proudly take the lead, bringing their different skills and talents to bear every day to defend our great nation."
Today, there are 24,500 Asian American and Pacific Islander Sailors serving in the Navy, including eight admirals and 235 master chief and senior chief petty officers. These Sailors represent more than 56 ethnic groups, speaking over 100 languages from Asia and the Pacific Islands, living in the United States.
Asian American and Pacific Islanders of various nationalities and ancestry have been serving in the Navy since the early 19th century. The rich history of these cultures, their struggles against adversity to achieve equality, significant contributions to the American experience, and the opportunity to build the foundation for a bright future are made reality by some great leaders who share the same heritage.
Senior leaders serving in the Navy today, who are Asian American and Pacific Islanders, are:
Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander, U.S. Pacific Command, was previously commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Born in Japan and raised in Tennessee and Florida, he became a P-3 Orion navigator after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978.
Adm. Raquel C. Bono is the director of the Defense Health Agency. She is a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery. Of Filipino descent, her brother, Anatolio B. Cruiz III, was also an admiral in the Navy until he retired in 2013.
Rear Adm. Peter A Gumataotao, a native of Guam, is the deputy chief of staff, Strategic Plans and Policy, NATO Supreme Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk.
Rear Adm. Jonathan A. Yuen is commander, Naval Supply Systems Command and 47th chief of Supply Corps. He is a member of the Acquisition Professional Community.
Another Sailor of Asian American decent is Capt. Sunita L. Williams, currently serving as an astronaut for NASA. She served as the flight engineer for the Expedition-14 crew and science officer at the International Space Station in 2007. In 2012, she served as a flight engineer on Expedition-32 and then commander of Expedition-33. Her seven space walks set records for women.
The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute provides printable posters, presentations, guidance for organizing observance, and educational facts on their website, http://www.deomi.org/ under the section "Special Observances."
For more information about the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their numerous contributions to the Navy, visit http://www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/diversity/asian-americans-pacific-islanders-in-the-navy.html
For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cnp/