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    USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) celebrates Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

    USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) celebrates Asian American, Native Hawaiian,  and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Stanton | 240524-N-UF592-1053 PHILIPPINE SEA (May 24, 2024) Fireman Elijah Pulotu, from Hawaii,...... read more read more



    Story by Seaman Kevin Steffanson 


    PHILIPPINE SEA - Sailors gathered on the aft mess decks aboard the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), to celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a traditional dance presentation, guest speakers, and a special meal, May 24.

    “This month reminds me that when we celebrate our differences, we reveal the true source of our strength,” said Capt. Daryle Cardone, commanding officer of Ronald Reagan, during the celebration. “Onboard USS Ronald Reagan, through empowering each other and learning about the skills that each of us brings to the fight, we reaffirm our commitment to a culture of warfighting excellence.”

    Cardone highlighted the story of U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Kurt Chew-Een Lee, the first Asian American to be commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.

    On November 2, 1950, during the Korean War, Lee drew fire from enemy Chinese forces to reveal their positions for his Marines, using his Mandarin Chinese to cause confusion. He suffered multiple injuries, but rather than stay at the hospital, he took a Jeep without authorization and drove himself back to his Marines on the front lines.

    “The courage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders like Maj. Lee enabled countless others to follow in their footsteps,” said Cardone.

    One person to follow in the footsteps of Lee’s military service is Fireman Elijah Pulotu, a Hawaiian native who was raised in a culture that practices a traditional battle dance called haka. He performed two haka dances during the celebration, using a fire boundary curtain laid on the deck as a stage.

    Pulotu prefaced the performance by asking the audience to imagine that he was not dancing alone, as haka is typically a group dance. However, as Pulotu started stamping his feet to the thunderous shouts that accompanied him, the Sailors watching him perform were packed onto the mess decks.

    According to Pulotu, haka is a traditional dance that Polynesian warriors would perform before going into battle. In modern times, it is used for ceremonial purposes such as funerals, weddings, and celebrations. Different regions of Polynesia have their own haka specific to their culture.

    Pulotu said he believes that celebrating different cultures brings people closer together, and that celebrations are a good way for people to unite instead of separate.

    “I’m extremely grateful to show everybody who I am and where I come from,” said Pulotu, after his performance. “Because I know we’re all Sailors first, but it’s good to show people who I was before I was a Sailor.”

    Today, more than 70,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are members of the Department of the Navy, serving as Sailors, Marines and civilians.

    Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in supporting alliances, partnerships and collective maritime interests in the Indo-Pacific region.


    Date Taken: 05.24.2024
    Date Posted: 05.27.2024 02:03
    Story ID: 472290
    Location: PHILIPPINE SEA

    Web Views: 313
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