Army offers MICC Soldier diverse experience
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Thomas Misner reads the proclamation for Hispanic Heritage Month as Brig. Gen. Christine Beeler looks on during an observance in October 2020 at the Mission and Installation Contracting Command Headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Misner is a contracting NCO with Field Directorate Office-Fort Sam Houston. Beeler is the MICC commanding general.
(Photo Credit: Ryan Mattox)
Army offers MICC Soldier diverse experience
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Gen. Gus Perna presents a commander’s coin to Staff Sgt. Thomas Misner during a recognition ceremony at Mission and Installation Contracting Command Headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Misner is a contracting NCO with Field Directorate Office-Fort Sam Houston. Perna is a former Army Materiel Command commanding general. (Photo Credit: Ryan Mattox ) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (May 20, 2021) – May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and the observance stands as a reminder of the strength the Army and Mission and Installation Contracting Command has gained and will achieve through a high-quality, diverse all-volunteer force.

The Asian Pacific American designation encompasses more than 50 ethnic groups, including native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. There are now more Asian Pacific Islander groups than in the past – with 28 Asian and 19 Pacific Islander subgroups representing a vast array of languages and cultures currently serving in the Army.

Staff Sgt. Thomas Misner, a contracting NCO with the MICC Field Directorate Office-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, said he grew up in a multi-racial, multi-ethnic family living mostly with his African-American father in North Carolina and visiting his Korean mother, who lives in New Jersey.

"They divorced when I was younger and I would go back and forth between them. I did grow up seeing both sides of African-American and Korean-American culture," Misner said. "My mother became a naturalized citizen here after emigrating from South Korea."

"I don't speak Korean very well," Misner said. "When I was younger, my mom always tried to get me to learn it, but I never really picked it up. In the church I went to, Korean was also taught. I tried to learn it there. When I was younger, I just wasn't as interested, but when I was in Korea, it was kind of handy to be able to say basic phrases to get around."

Growing up on the East Coast, Misner spent most of his time studying the visual arts. He would spend hours honing his love of breakdancing and graphic arts. He even went to college for a while pursuing a career in visual arts, but changed over to computer information systems. It was then that Misner considered joining the Army.

"Ever since I was young, I wanted to travel the world, but I needed to obtain some skills to pay the bills," Misner said. "Where I was growing up, there wasn't a whole lot of opportunities available in the tech industry."

At that point, Misner decided to enlist in the Army and fulfill that desire to travel and see the world.

"When I joined the Army, there wasn't a lot of influence from my family to join," Misner said. "It was just me wanting to do something kind of different for myself."

He always wanted to do one thing once he got into the Army was to go to Korea. In 2006, the Army provided that opportunity and moved Misner to Camp Casey-Hovey, located 40 miles north of Seoul, South Korea.

"When I got there, I met my aunt and one of my cousins for the first time," he said. "My mom had coordinated between them and myself to let them know that I was coming to Korea. I was able to connect with family that I had never gotten a chance to meet before through the Army."

During his first tour in Korea, Misner made a lot of friends. He used his love of dancing and theater arts to make connections with other like-minded people.

"When I got there, I was still into dancing, and I would go off post and meet with local dance groups in the different districts of Korea," Misner said. "We would practice for two or three hours, and then I would jump back on the metro to rush back to beat the curfew."

Misner explained his love of the arts has been most beneficial to him when embracing diversity.

"I would go to dance competitions, and there would be people of all different backgrounds and countries coming together to compete because we had that shared love of the arts," he said.

Everywhere Misner has been stationed in the Army, he has explored the local dance scene to see the different dances and how others competed.

"You have people coming in from Japan, Germany, Russia, and I'm around them, learning from them a new perspective that started at a very young age for me," Misner said. "When I was younger, I was very serious about dancing, but now that I'm in my 40s, not so much."

For Misner, it's more about the theater and hanging out with a good crew of people who share a same interest in the visual arts. However, even when he is in Korea, Misner said he will still go to competitions to witness the evolution of dancing and the Korean culture.

Misner said the Army has provided an excellent opportunity to see the world, adding that taking advantage of those opportunities is the best thing to do to broaden perspective of people and cultures different from yours.

He is now readying for his second tour to Korea in July, this time to Camp Humphreys, which is located approximately 40 miles south of Seoul near the seaport city of Pyeongtaek, along the western coast of South Korea.

"I'm hoping to take my family with me. I want to share some of the Korean experiences I had during my first tour with my daughter, too. I want her to see the country that her grandmother came from, taste the food and experience the culture," he said.

Note: This year's theme for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month is "Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service." This national observance honors the perseverance of courageous Asian and Pacific Islander Americans and celebrates all they have given to building our great nation.

About the MICC

Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,500 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of Soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. As part of its mission, MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, facilitate training in the preparation of more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.