BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Task Force Muleskinner hosted the observance for the Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month, May 22 here, which was dedicated to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
The history of the 442nd RCT was highlighted because the unit was mostly composed of Soldiers of Japanese descent who volunteered to fight in World War II even after their families were subject to internment. The 442nd RCT is considered to be the most decorated infantry regiment in the history of the U.S. Army, with 21 of its members receiving the Medal of Honor during the war.
Every year during the month of May the Army comes together to celebrate and honor the many ways Asian American and Pacific Islanders helped forge our great country.
As Soldiers entered the tent for the observance they were presented with a lei, a garland of flowers worn around the neck, adding a festive twist to the celebration.
The celebration started off with the national anthem followed by the invocation given by Capt. Jueun Kim, the 10th Special Troops Battalion chaplain.
The first event of the celebration was a muay thai demonstration performed by students of The House Muay Thai Kickboxing class. The demonstration consisted of two rounds. The first round was between two female fighters and the second was between two male fighters. The fighters showcased the different techniques and styles of muay thai kickboxing.
After the muay thai demonstration was complete, the stage was cleared for the next performance.
Up next were the Polynesian dance teams who performed authentic Pacific island dances. The dance teams performed the Haka, Te Tama Maohi, Tausagi Mai Manu e and the O Le Taualuga. The dance and war cries added to the atmosphere of the celebration.
Command Sgt. Maj. Isaia T. Vimoto the senior enlisted leader for International Security Assistant Force Joint Command, was the guest speaker for the celebration.
Vimoto explained how far Asian American and Pacific Islanders have come throughout history. How some were Soldiers and fought to preserve the union between the North and South, and others are currently serving as advisers to President Barack Obama.
“More than 36,000 Asian American and Pacific Islander Soldiers serve in today’s Army,” said Vimoto. “Despite facing racial discrimination, hatred, violence, bigotry and even internment, Asian American and Pacific Islanders served this country with honor and patriotism.”
The ceremony came to a close after Kim gave the final invocation in Korean.
“The observance was fantastic, I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jefferson Henry, 10th SBDE equal opportunity adviser and event coordinator. “It’s great to see how proud people are of their heritage, as well as people of different cultures and ethnicities taking their time to learn and participate in the dances and demonstrations truly shows an interest in diversifying their knowledge of other cultures.”
At the end of the celebration, to show their appreciation, Col. Willie Rios III, commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Jose A. Castillo, senior enlisted adviser for the 10th SBDE, presented Vimoto with a Samoan battle club with the brigade’s coin inlaid.