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

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Each May since 1977, we honor the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to our nation’s history. Asian-Pacific Americans have served in every conflict since the Civil War, in some of the most decorated military units in U.S. history. Thirty-one Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have received the Medal of Honor in service to our nation. This year’s theme is “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity”.

Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Yano’s service reminds us of the dedication and resolve of our Asian-Pacific American service members. On January 1, 1969, Yano was the crew chief of a helicopter during combat operations in Vietnam. While marking enemy positions with smoke, a grenade exploded prematurely, burning Yano and igniting the ammunition on board. Despite severe injuries, Yano was able to hurl the burning ammunition from the aircraft, saving his comrades. Yano later succumbed to his injuries and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Today, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders continue the proud legacy of selfless service. They represent more than six percent of our military and 15 percent of our civilian workforce, 56 ethnic groups and more than 100 spoken languages.

The strength of our military is our people. Organizations perform at their best and are most successful when every person is part of a cohesive team and when every teammate is valued and appreciated. This month, we encourage everyone to learn more about their teammates, and especially, Asian-Pacific American heritage and culture.

We are honored to serve with our Asian American and Pacific Islander service members, civilians and their families.

Victory Starts Here — Victory Through Skill!