CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – Service members from Kosovo Force’s Regional Command East celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a cultural awareness presentation and lunch at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo May 27, 2022.
Hosted by RC-East’s Task Force Medical, 547th Medical Company (Area Support), the presentation highlighted a brief history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders before examining prominent Americans and their contributions to the U.S. military.
“I think it’s very important to educate and show the significance of contributions of different cultures,” said Staff Sgt. David Lindsey, an equal opportunity leader with the 547th MCAS and the event’s organizer. “And this month being Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I believe that their contributions to history and to the military is of relevance to everybody that’s serving currently.”
Lindsey’s presentation focused on the history of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, while other presenters highlighted the significant historical impact of figures who may not be as recognized as others.
For Lindsey, the month-long observance serves as a platform to educate other service members on the contributions of Americans from different cultures while highlighting the value of diversity in the military.
“The more we know of it, the more we understand people’s perspective, especially from different cultures and different backgrounds, allows us to work more in tune with those that are from different cultures and different backgrounds, and it’s just more informative,” he said. “Overall, if we understand one’s culture, we’ll understand why they may have certain views or in certain opinions.”
Also presenting was Capt. David Park, RC-East’s brigade nurse, who discussed the history of Col. Young-Oak Kim, a Korean War officer who became the first minority officer to command an Army battalion on the battlefield in U.S. history.
Next, Capt. Narisa Lopez, a protocol officer with RC-East, spoke about the contributions of Florence Finch, a Filipino-American member of the World War II resistance against the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Finch would go on to earn the Medal of Freedom before joining the Coast Guard Reserve following the war.
“It is nice whenever we have an event like this, because it helps put into focus the diversity we have in the ranks,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Irving N. Reed, Jr., RC-East’s senior enlisted leader. “It also helps that we learn a little bit about the background of our fellow Soldiers. A lot of the things presented today were totally new to me and it really helps me to get a better understanding of those who I serve with.”
Following the event, participants were treated to a taste of Asian American food consisting of rice, chicken and vegetables. Also available were pieces of paper and instructions on how to create various origami pieces.
“It’s always nice to get a taste of different cuisine,” Reed said. “It was a very good event and I’m glad I had the opportunity to come out.”
At the conclusion of the presentation, Lindsey said, “As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we pay tribute to all the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have strived and fought for a brighter future for the next generation of leaders.”