The Coast Guard proudly recognizes the month of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This designation honors both Asian and Pacific Islander Americans for their contributions and sacrifices in advancing our great nation. This year’s theme is, “I Am Beyond.” The phrase captures the aspirations of the American spirit, how Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have always sought to excel beyond the challenges that have limited equal opportunity in America.
Americans with Asian and Pacific Islander heritage have served with distinction within our ranks.
Manuel Ferreira and Samuel Amalu served long careers as lighthouse keepers. Amalu received a coveted efficiency award.
Chiao-Shun Soong was the first Asian American to serve in the Revenue Cutter Service on the cutters Gallatin and Schuyler Colfax, after which he attended college in North Carolina and served as a missionary in China.
Florence Smith Finch, a member of the Filipino underground during World War II, was captured and placed in a Japanese prison camp, and after liberation, served as a Coast Guard SPAR. She later received the Medal of Freedom.
Kwang-Ping Hsu was an accomplished aviator who flew in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
More recently, Juan Salas was the first islander from Guam to graduate from the Coast Guard Academy, or any other service academy, and command a cutter during his distinguished career.
The month of May has been designated since 1979 to celebrate the contributions and achievements made by Asians and Pacific Islanders in America. It was chosen to commemorate the first immigration of Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1843. It also marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which was built by a workforce whose majority was Chinese immigrants.
Coast Guard units are highly encouraged to celebrate, recognize and educate the workforce about the achievements of Pacific Islander and Asian Americans within our service, nation, and world. For more information on this rich, diverse history, visit the Asian Pacific Heritage or White House websites.
If you have someone at your unit who is a high performer and proud of their heritage, let us know. Leave a comment below telling us about the person, their background and how they make a positive contribution to your unit.