WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 12, 2013) — The Organization of Chinese Americans, Asian Pacific American Advocates, a national membership driven organization dedicated to advancing the political, social, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans, salutes the service of Asian Pacific American veterans.
According to the US Census, 1.3 percent of the 21.2 million US veterans (275,600) are Asian Pacific Americans.The Department of Defense also reports that Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders constitute 4.4 percent of the 3.6 million active duty service members.
“We are very proud of the veterans from our community and the service they have provided for our country,” says Sharon M. Wong, OCA President, “It isn’t very well known, but Asian Pacific Americans have fought in every war since The War of 1812, including the Civil War.”
Historical documentation indicates that APAs began to attend U.S. military academies during War World I. However, it was not until War World II that APA service men and women were recognized for their service and valor.Accomplishments of Asian Pacific American veterans include the infamous 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II, the most decorated unit in U.S. history, which was almost completely comprised of Japanese Americans, and the First and Second Filipino American infantry regiments, which were also highly decorated. With the desegregation of the military in 1948, Asian Pacific Americans have served and continue to serve in the United States armed forces.
“We salute the incredible service provided by our men and women in uniform,” says Tom Hayashi, OCA Executive Director, “Their tireless dedication to our country has kept and continues to keep our communities safe. However, we must not forget the Asian Pacific American veterans who have fought under the American flag and have yet to be recognized as American war heroes, such as the Hmong. On this day, OCA honors all Asian Pacific American veterans, regardless of official recognition.”
OCA has honored a number of prominent APA veterans, including Senator Daniel Inouye; Major Kurt Lee (Ret.); Major General Antonio Taguba (Ret.), well known for his role as the principle investigator of the Abu Ghraib Detention Facility; Former Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense Bel Leong-Hong; and General Eric Shinseki (Ret.), who currently serves as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.