NEWS | May 18, 2018

American Soldiers celebrate Asian, Pacific Islander culture, contributions

By Sgt. David Nye U.S. Army Central

Staff Sgt. Latu P. Halafihi, 40th Composite Supply Company, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, leads a traditional dance with other American Soldiers at an Asian American, Pacific Islander cultural observance at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 12, 2018. The dancers performed primarily Polynesian dances during the cultural observance, which was held to celebrate the contributions of Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans and to raise awareness of Asian heritage among personnel on the installation. A similar event is scheduled for Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, on May 26.
Staff Sgt. Latu P. Halafihi, 40th Composite Supply Company, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, leads a traditional dance with other American Soldiers at an Asian American, Pacific Islander cultural observance at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 12, 2018. The dancers performed primarily Polynesian dances during the cultural observance, which was held to celebrate the contributions of Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans and to raise awareness of Asian heritage among personnel on the installation. A similar event is scheduled for Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, on May 26.
Staff Sgt. Latu P. Halafihi, 40th Composite Supply Company, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, leads a traditional dance with other American Soldiers at an Asian American, Pacific Islander cultural observance at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 12, 2018. The dancers performed primarily Polynesian dances during the cultural observance, which was held to celebrate the contributions of Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans and to raise awareness of Asian heritage among personnel on the installation. A similar event is scheduled for Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, on May 26.
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Staff Sgt. Latu P. Halafihi, 40th Composite Supply Company, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, leads a traditional dance with other American Soldiers at an Asian American, Pacific Islander cultural observance at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 12, 2018. The dancers performed primarily Polynesian dances during the cultural observance, which was held to celebrate the contributions of Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans and to raise awareness of Asian heritage among personnel on the installation. A similar event is scheduled for Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, on May 26.
Photo By: Sgt. David Nye
VIRIN: 180512-A-FO568-003
Soldiers and leaders assigned to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, came together on the installation, May 12, 2018, to commemorate the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during an event to celebrate the culture and history of those peoples. 

The event featured a number of speakers as well as a pig roast, traditional dances, a series of war cries that included audience participation, and a sampling of traditional and contemporary cuisine from the Pacific and Asian regions.

 

"This is an example of what it means to be an American Soldier..." Lt. Col. Courtney Sugai

 

Participants were surprised and excited by how many people on the base took part in the event, both as performers and as audience members.

“The turnout tonight was amazing,” said Lt. Col. Courtney Sugai, 541st Combat Support Sustainment Battalion commander. “We had soldiers from Tonga, Somoa, Thailand, Phillipines, and all across the United States participating in this. This is an example of what it means to be an American Soldier.”

 

American Soldiers perform traditional dances at an Asian American, Pacific Islander cultural observance at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 12, 2018. The dancers performed primarily Polynesian dances during the cultural observance, which was held to celebrate the contributions of Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans and to raise awareness of Asian heritage among personnel on the installation. A similar event is scheduled for Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, on May 26.
American Soldiers perform traditional dances at an Asian American, Pacific Islander cultural observance at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 12, 2018. The dancers performed primarily Polynesian dances during the cultural observance, which was held to celebrate the contributions of Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans and to raise awareness of Asian heritage among personnel on the installation. A similar event is scheduled for Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, on May 26.
American Soldiers perform traditional dances at an Asian American, Pacific Islander cultural observance at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 12, 2018. The dancers performed primarily Polynesian dances during the cultural observance, which was held to celebrate the contributions of Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans and to raise awareness of Asian heritage among personnel on the installation. A similar event is scheduled for Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, on May 26.
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American Soldiers perform traditional dances at an Asian American, Pacific Islander cultural observance at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 12, 2018. The dancers performed primarily Polynesian dances during the cultural observance, which was held to celebrate the contributions of Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans and to raise awareness of Asian heritage among personnel on the installation. A similar event is scheduled for Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, on May 26.
Photo By: Sgt. David Nye
VIRIN: 180512-A-FO568-006
Army diversity is our strength

 

Sugai gave a presentation on the 442nd Infantry Regiment and one of its component battalions, the 100th Infantry Battalion.

"Army diversity is our strength and I just wanted to tell the story of Soldiers from Hawaii and the 100th battalion and the 442nd Infantry Regiment who overcame adversity by serving,” Sugai said. “The 100th battalion was made up primarily of Japanese-Americans that were Nisei. When they were told they could not serve because they were Japanese, they fought against it.”

“They actually petitioned to fight for their country,” Sugai continued, “and, took about a year, but a year later, two years later, the United States recognized their service and granted them the right to serve their country in the Army. It ended up becoming the most decorated unit in United States Army, in history. So, it’s really something to commemorate today and it represents the pride that Asian Pacific Islanders have, and it inspires a lot of Soldiers today.”

Other speakers gave short presentations on the island and Asian nations that they and their families came from. 

“We had a couple representations from Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, Japan, Phillippines, Guam, and Thailand,” said Staff Sgt. Tavita Muusa. 

Sgt. Kristal V. Baradi, 40th Composite Supply Company, 541st Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, speaks about Philippine history at an Asian American, Pacific Islander cultural observance at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 12, 2018. Baradi focused on the islands experiences from Europeans arriving at the nation through World War II and Filipino independence at the cultural observance, which was held to celebrate the contributions of Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans and to raise awareness of Asian heritage among personnel on the installation. A similar event is scheduled for Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, on May 26.
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Sgt. Kristal V. Baradi, 40th Composite Supply Company, 541st Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, speaks about Philippine history at an Asian American, Pacific Islander cultural observance at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 12, 2018. Baradi focused on the islands experiences from Europeans arriving at the nation through World War II and Filipino independence at the cultural observance, which was held to celebrate the contributions of Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans and to raise awareness of Asian heritage among personnel on the installation. A similar event is scheduled for Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, on May 26.
Photo By: Sgt. David Nye
VIRIN: 180512-A-FO568-004
Muusa helped lead traditional Polynesian dances as well as a war cries demonstration that included audience participation.

“It was awesome. To see everybody excited and energized and wanting to participate in something like this, it was epic,” Muusa said.