FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – The Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month observance hosted by the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence featured a 2021 Military Intelligence Hall of Fame inductee as the guest speaker on May 11 at Fitch Auditorium, Alvarado Hall.
Retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joe Okabayashi, former Chief Warrant Officer of the Military Intelligence Corps, spoke of the importance of growing leaders at all levels.
This year’s AAPI theme, "Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration," recognizes the collective benefits resulting from a spirit of community, cooperation and cultural engagement. Despite racial and ethnic barriers to advancement, generations of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders sacrificed, and continue to serve, as military members and civilian employees.
“I am honored to speak to you today,” Okabayashi said. “It is a humbling path to be one person representing over 24 million Americans.”
As a Japanese American, Okabayashi represents only one of the many groups encompassed by Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
“Every person’s, every family’s story is unique as to how and why they came to the United States,” he said. “In the case of many Pacific Islanders, [it was] how the United States came to them.”
Just about every one of the stories starts with hope and determination, he explained.
“I’d like to focus on leaders who serve, and continue to serve, at lower levels of leadership,” Okabayashi said. “In doing so, I’d like to bring together the ideas of hope, determination and collaboration.”
He elaborated on how the pandemic endured and people continue to manage this tremendous pressure on the nation.
“Throughout this time of trials and sacrifice, we have benefitted from the examples of leaders who have indeed advanced through collaboration,” he said, explaining who kept the world turning as COVID-19 arrested the nation into quarantine.
He credited thousands of Americans, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, who worked without fear of COVID-19 as first-responders, healthcare professionals, teachers, custodians, food-service workers, grocery workers, delivery people and so many others.
“Each of these leaders, living and passed, was a member of teams, organizations and communities that serve others for a cause greater than themselves,” Okabayashi said. “It’s been through their teamwork and collaboration that led us to this point with the pandemic and our nation’s history.”
Paying respect to these leaders is vital, he said, asking the audience to always give thanks and emulate their contributions.
Okabayashi enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1977 climbing the ranks to sergeant first class. He commissioned as warrant officer as an Order of Battle Technician in 1986. He held the position of Chief Warrant Officer of the Military Intelligence Corps from 2010 to 2015. Throughout his 38 years of active-duty service, he served in several campaigns, including Operation Allied Force, Operation Skilled Anvil, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Okabayashi retired as a chief warrant officer five in October 2015. He continues to serve as senior intelligence analyst and capabilities developer in the Capabilities Development & Integration Directorate.
The Department of Defense celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month during May acknowledging the contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in defending America's freedom.
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Fort Huachuca is home to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM)/9th Army Signal Command and more than 48 supported tenants representing a diverse, multiservice population. Our unique environment encompasses 946 square miles of restricted airspace and 2,500 square miles of protected electronic ranges, key components to the national defense mission.
Located in Cochise County, in southeast Arizona, about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico, Fort Huachuca is an Army installation with a rich frontier history. Established in 1877, the Fort was declared a national landmark in 1976.
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