News: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Observance and Luau, Fort Leonard Wood
Story by Marti Yoshida
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – The 3rd Chemical Brigade hosted the 2011 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Observance and Luau from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 26, at the Pershing Community Center, Fort Leonard Wood. This year’s theme “Leadership, Diversity, Empowerment and Beyond” included guest speaker Maj. Lee Pharathikoune with the U.S. Marine Corps.
There were 200 service members, DOD civilians and guests in attendance, and according to the event organizers, they would have expected even more attendees had the Missouri weather permitted the luau to be held outdoors. Still, the event was a great success.
Parathikoune suggested that his story was no different than any other story in American history. He and his family spent three years in a refugee camp in Thailand and settled in Savannah, Ga. with no more than the clothes on their backs. He thanked the generosity of his sponsors in Savanah and discussed the values that were instilled in him by his parents, including the value of getting an education as the key to success in America.
His primary message was the he does not believe in luck. He instead sticks to planning as far in advance as possible. He has learned in his career that success is a team effort. He would not be standing today as a Major in the U.S. Marine corps without the team. Third, he is grateful to have the support of his family which has permitted him to succeed in his chosen career. He also encouraged people to believe in the 'American Dream' themselves.
Pharathikoune was born in Laos and immigrated to the United States, settling in Savannah, Ga. in 1979. He enlisted in 1991 and received his commission in 1998 via the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program. Pharathikoune is presently serving as the commanding officer for the Engineer Equipment Instruction Company, U.S. Marine Corps Detachment, at Fort Leonard Wood. He has deployed twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and once to the Philipines with the 9th Engineer Support Battalion. He holds a Masters in Business Administration as well as a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Pharathikoune is proud to be happily married with three children.