USS Frank Cable celebrates Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

by MC2 Brian T. Glunt
USS Frank Cable PAO

POLARIS POINT, Guam (NNS) -- More than 50 Sailors and civilian mariners stationed aboard the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) joined the ship's diversity committee to celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander heritage month May 29 in the ship's mess deck.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month recognizes the challenges faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their vital contributions to the American story.

"Personally, I feel this is important because it showcases our Sailors' backgrounds and their cultures and empowers them, knowing that there is strength in diversity," said Chief Master-at-Arms Natalie Dymond, Frank Cable diversity committee program manager. "The month of May is very important to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. It is the month when the first Japanese immigrants came to America and is also the month when the transcontinental railroad was completed largely in part by Chinese immigrants."

The celebration began with an invocation from Lt. Cmdr. John Miyahara, Frank Cable's command chaplain, followed by a summary of Asian and Pacific Islander history and achievements from Command Master Chief James Schneider. The Philippine consul general in Guam, Edgar Tomas Quilino Auxilian, served as one of the guest speakers of the celebration.

"There is a saying that there is unity in diversity. I believe there is also strength in diversity," said Auxilian. "I really recognize the contribution, history and culture of the different Asian American and Pacific Islanders and having this multicultural community in the service."

During the celebration, family members of Sailors also participated with songs and dances from different Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. Nicole and Richard Baal, daughter and son of Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ricardo Beal, along with their friends Jane and Junelle Angara, performed the Tinikling dance, a Philippine cultural dance similar to jumping rope, but with bamboo sticks. Auxilian, along with his wife and two daughters, sang a compilation of traditional Philippine Tagalog songs. Also, Tasiana Castro played acoustic guitar while singing the Chamorro song "Uchan Uchan."

This year's national theme is "I am Beyond," capturing the aspirations of the American spirit and how Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander decent have sought to excel beyond the challenges they have faced throughout history.

"Whether you want to or not, you are living in a culturally diverse world and any organization that does not have diversity as part of its engine and purpose is missing the mark in maximizing its potential," said Geoffrey Fong, celebration guest speaker and principal at Cmdr. William C. McCool Elementary/Middle School. "There are a lot of continuing behaviors, voices and bodies that promote diversity in organizations and it's great that the military has that."

The celebration concluded with a cake cutting ceremony headed by Schneider and guest speakers, Auxilian and Fong.

Directed by Congress in 1978 and established by presidential proclamation in 1979, Asian and Pacific Heritage Week was first observed the week of May 4, 1979. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush expanded the observance to encompass the entire month. In 1992, Congress passed the law permanently designating the month of May as Asian and Pacific American Heritage month.

Asian and Pacific Islanders have been serving in the Navy since the early 19th century. According to the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, 20,500 Asian and Pacific Islanders serve in the U.S. Navy, comprising 6.43 percent of the overall active duty Naval force, with an additional 4,000 Reservists and 18,900 Navy civilian employees. Aboard Frank Cable, Asian and Pacific Islanders comprise more than 12 percent of the crew.

Frank Cable, forward deployed to the island of Guam, conducts maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

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