Celebrating Asian-Pacific American heritage
May 27, 2009
FORT EUSTIS, Va. (May 27, 2009) -- "Leadership to Meet the Challenges of a Changing World" was the theme as the Fort Eustis community gathered to observe Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month at Jacobs Theater May 21, hosted by the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.
The event included the national anthem performed by the Transportation Express, performances by Polynesian dance group Kinderhula, martial arts demonstrations by World Martial Arts, and closing remarks by Brig. Gen. Brian Layer, Fort Eustis commander. Attendees enjoyed a complimentary food tasting after the ceremony.
Col. Paul Giovino, SDDC acting commander and deputy chief of staff for operations, warmly welcomed the Soldiers and distinguished guests and provided background information on the origination of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.
President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution Oct. 5, 1978 designating Asian-Pacific Heritage Week as an annual celebration in May. The weekly celebration was extended to the entire month of May in 1990. Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month officially became law in 1992.
"May is not only a time of recognition and celebration of Asian-Pacific American contributions and achievements, but it is also a time for each of us to share and learn more about a growing part of our community," said Giovino.
Serving as guest speaker was Allen Kaleiolani Hoe, a civilian aide to the secretary of the Army. Hoe has been licensed as an attorney in Hawaii since 1977 and is currently president of the Honolulu Polo Club.
As a U.S. Army combat veteran who served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968, Hoe earned the Combat Medics Badge, Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
He is the father of two sons: 1st Lt. Nainoa Hoe, who paid the ultimate sacrifice January 22, 2005 in Mosul, Iraq and Staff Sgt. Nakoa Hoe, who is currently deployed.
Hoe opened his remarks by saying that he is a third generation citizen-Soldier and how honored he felt in sharing his perspective with the Fort Eustis warrior family. He spoke of how his father and grandfather served in the military and how family plays a significant role in the Hawaiian culture, along with respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
Hoe honored the memory of his fellow Soldiers of the Long Range Recon Platoon (Team Snoopy), 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
Recounting the story of his son Nainoa, who at age 12 traveled with him to a Memorial Day observance at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., Hoe said, "Nainoa stood transfixed and in awe during the ceremony. Something stirred in his young soul connecting him to his legacy and from that moment on, he knew what he wanted to do with his life."
Nainoa earned top cadet honors while enrolled in his high school's Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and also earned a business degree from the University of Hawaii. He wanted to eventually become an officer, but first, he wanted to succeed as an enlisted Soldier and serve his country within the enlisted ranks just like his father.
Hoe highlighted the numerous awards Nainoa earned including Soldier of the Cycle, Honor Graduate and Soldier of the Year. After earning a scuba badge with the U.S. Navy Dive School, Nainoa also attended Infantry Officer Basic Training and Ranger School.
"He was on a mission. There would be no stops, no recycles. He was racing toward his destiny to become a warrior," explained Hoe.
Nainoa led an infantry platoon in Iraq like his father did while on active-duty in Vietnam. When he "gave his last full measure of devotion to his country and homeland" in Iraq in 2005, Nainoa's unit, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, was carrying the same reconnaissance battle flag that his father's unit had carried in 1967 and 1968 in Vietnam.
Hoe emphasized that the warriors who served with him in Vietnam and those that served with his son still impact his life in different ways. He discussed the meaning of his son's name. which means one without limits, and how becoming a warrior was a part of his son's genetic composition and legacy.
"The evolution of a Hawaiian warrior does not stray too far from the ancient principles of patience, discipline, commitment, humility, understanding, full cooperation and obedience," concluded Hoe. "I know his spirit is here with us today. He will be your guardian angel along with the legions of every American warrior who has given their last full measure for our freedom."