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Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders celebrate heritage

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | | May 29, 2014

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In recognition of Asian-American, Pacific Islander Heritage Month, more than 60 Marines, Sailors and civilian-Marines gathered for a luncheon at the Town and Country Restaurant’s Grand Ballroom, May 20.

The event, themed, “I am Beyond,” was held to recognize the contributions and accomplishments of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Keynote speaker Lt. Col. Raymundo R. Gambol, deputy director, Logistics Capabilities Center, Marine Corps Logistics Command, said the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities have been an integral part of U.S. history.

“The first Japanese immigrants (to) migrate (were) in (1843) and Chinese worked on the railroads in (1869),” he said.

Gambol, who was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, shared his story of how “he was beyond.”

“I am a first-generation American with both feet planted in American traditions and Filipino culture,” Gambol said. “Hard work and education were the foundation that my parents (stressed) to me and my brother and sister. They wanted us to have a better life in the U.S. than they did in the Philippines.”

Gambol gives credit for his success to his parents, who migrated from the Philippines to the U.S. in 1971.

“It was my parents, especially my dad, and team sports that influenced me to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserves,” he said.

Gambol graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, in May 1990. As a reservist, he drilled at 2nd Battalion, 14th Marines in Fort Worth, Texas, while attending the University of Texas at Arlington, Texas, as a full-time student.

Graduating in December 1994, he then was commissioned as second lieutenant through the Platoon Leader’s Class Combined Program and became a ground supply officer.

“I never thought I could measure up to the typical ‘John Wayne, Sergeant Striker Marine Corps stereotype,’ but 25 years later I am still living the dream of being a United States Marine and a Marine officer,” he said. “Looking back at all the things I have done, all the deployments I have been on, all the places I have seen, the sacrifices that were made, I feel blessed to do it all as an American citizen.”

Gambol concluded, “Many glass ceilings have been broken for Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders since my parents’ time. With more and more opportunities opening up, we can truly say the sky is the limit and we are beyond.”

Edelmira Reynolds, resource manager, Weapons Systems Management Center, LOGCOM, expounded on the event’s theme.

“This theme represents the American spirit and how Americans of Asian and Pacific Island descent always strive to excel beyond the challenges that have limited opportunity,” Reynolds said. “This month is celebration of culture, tradition and history of Asian/Pacific Americans to recognize their accomplishments and contributions to the progress of our great nation, the United States of America.”

Reynolds stated Asian/Pacific Americans consist of people from many different countries including China, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Pacific Islands such as Guam, Samoa, New Zealand and Hawaii, to name a few.

Staff Sgt. Juana L. Snell, equal opportunity advisor, LOGCOM, said this is an opportunity to “celebrate the uniqueness in each and every one of us (and to) recognize different cultures and backgrounds.”

The attendees were entertained by The South Georgia Okinawa Club members who performed several traditional dances, and were able to feast on ethnic food.

According to Marine Administrative Message 211/14, Asian-American, Pacific Islander Heritage Month was originally introduced as Pacific/Asian Heritage Week by former Congressmen Frank Horton and Norman Mineta in the House of Representatives in July 1977. Oct. 23, 1992, the 102nd Congress unanimously approved Public Law 102-450, designating May as Asian-American, Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

The message listed the following facts:

*  Asian-Americans have fought and served in the U.S. military since the War of 1812.

*  Asian-Americans fought for both the Union and Confederacy during the American Civil War.

*  Jose B. Nisperos was the first Asian-American awarded the Medal of Honor, Sept. 24, 1911.

*  Maj. Kurt Chew-een Lee was the first Asian-American to become a Marine officer. His service spanned from World War II to the Vietnam War.


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