FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - Honor, tradition and legacy are a significant part of what it means to be part of the U.S. Army. Everyone has a different story, and this Asian American Pacific Island Heritage Month presented an opportunity for a particularly inspiring one.
Pacific Army Reserve Soldiers, Civilians and Family of the 9th Mission Support Command were encouraged May 22 at the Fort Shafter Assembly Hall by the Army family story of Col. (Ret) Kimo Dunn, former commander of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment and today serving as a civilian Deputy Operations for 9th Mission Support Command, at the command's official Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month observance.
Dunn has Hawaiian, Chinese, Korean, Chamorran and Caucasian ancestry, and both of his parents served in conflicts from World War II through the Vietnam War.
"The world and the enemies of the world had different plans for my father," Dunn said, initially explaining how his father, half Native Hawaiian, spent his childhood in Papakolea, Hawaiian homestead lands. "Because of Pearl Harbor and what happened Dec. 7, 1941, my father was enlisted into the Army, and served from World War II through Korea and Vietnam, retiring here at Schofield Barracks."
Dunn's mother served as a nurse in the WAC, the Women's Army Corps as well. Dunn shared family stories and historic images with the group.
Enlisted in the Army 1983, Dunn joined ROTC through the University of Hawaii, and graduated as a distinguished military graduate. He served a long career with many notable achievements, recognized mostly for his time commanding the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment. Despite his many milestones, awards, deployments and multiple lifetime achievements, commands, Dunn spoke humbly and straightforward to the audience.
"We all have stories, we all come from places, you have heard a little of my story and my family's story here on Oahu, but we are all honored to serve, to put on the uniform, to serve as something higher than yourself," he said. "Everybody comes from somewhere. So I'd like to emphasize that as we go around that we unite our vision, working together, learn about people. As you learn, you get the diversity of our team."
Looking towards the future, and the next generation of Soldiers, Dunn shared an image of his recent visit to his son's graduation from Ranger school.
"We bring all these capabilities together, we all speak the languages, our Detachment in Japan, many of them live there and speak the language, they don't need interpreters, in American Samoa, same situation, many of our Soldiers, for example, when we go to Exercise Balikatan in the Philippines, many of our Soldiers are Filipino," he said. "When we train with our counterparts, and we speak the same language, that is capability, but also understanding the culture," he said. "So that is what we bring to the fight, bring to the table, in addition to everything else."
Audience members expressed feelings of pride and inspiration following the event.
"Mr. Dunn's presentation reminded us that the unique cultural and ethnic diversity of the 9th Mission Support Command are truly force multipliers and as members of the Pride of the Pacific," it is an honor to continue to uphold the historic legacy of sacrifice embodied by units such as the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry," Sgt. 1st Class Kris Kaopuiki, 322nd Civil Affairs Brigade Sexual Response Coordinator.
Master Sgt. Dana Apo, an Equal Opportunity Advisor for the 9th MSC and coordinator ot the event, spoke in congruence to Dunn's request, to reach out and find out the stories of those around us.
"When we look at Equal Opportunity and the observances, it's really about the respect that we show one another, regardless of where we come from as we all have our own story," Apo said. "This particular month, we can look at 30 or 50 different languages, and celebrate all that. Take the opportunity to go out there and meet someone new, reach out and talk story, because that is what we love to do."