(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — On May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States. 158 years later there are now almost 25 million Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, across more than 56 different ethnic groups, living in the United States. Every May, we celebrate the incalculable contributions and the incredible diversity that they bring to our great nation.

Asian-Pacific Americans have served our nation since the Civil War. The historic 442nd Regimental Combat team, embodies their heritage. The 442nd is the most decorated Regimental Combat Team in history and was composed almost entirely of 14,000 Asian-Pacific Americans who demonstrated their motto “Go for Broke” by earning more than 18,000 awards, including 4,000 purple hearts and bronze stars, 21 medals of honor, and eight presidential unit citations — the most of any unit in WWII.

Medal of Honor recipient, Senator Daniel Inouye, who served in the 442nd, exemplifies this year’s observance theme: “Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service.” In WWII, Senator Inouye’s dedication allowed him to progress from private to lieutenant. In battle, he neutralized three German bunkers, losing an arm while doing so. After the war, he became Hawaii’s first U.S. Congressman and served the Aloha State in the U.S. House and Senate for over 50 years.

The legacy of Senator Inouye and the 442nd lives on today through those who serve in the 100th Infantry Battalion, the only infantry unit in the United States Army Reserve. Originally part of Hawaii’s National Guard, the 100th was attached to the 442nd during WWII and is currently comprised of units in the Pacific in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and Saipan.

Our Asian-Pacific teammates have a rich heritage and history. Take time to understand the traditions and stories of the dozens of Asian-Pacific ethnic groups who are fellow Americans. Recognize and leverage their talents in our ranks to enhance our teams. Diversity of thought and background are instrumental in the success of our missions.

We are proud to serve with our Asian-Pacific Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, civilians and their families. Your leadership inspires us and provides a great example for all Americans.

Victory Starts Here — Victory Through Skill!