PASCAGOULA, Miss. – Sailors from the precommissioning unit (PCU) and precommissioning detachment for Makin Island (LHD 8) in Pascagoula and San Diego held Asian Pacific American Heritage observances May 28 and 29.
The Asian Pacific American Heritage Association (APAHA) established 2008’s national Asian Pacific American Heritage month theme as “Leadership, Diversity, Harmony: Gateway to Success.” Makin Island’s diversity council worked to ensure both locations incorporated this theme into their events.
Members of LHD 8’s diversity council worked in cooperation with Asians and Pacific Islanders within the command to prepare cultural exhibits, a variety of Asian foods and to select an appropriate guest speaker for each event. Pascagoula’s diversity council selected Lt. Cmdr. David Proum, the ship’s medical officer and a Cambodian immigrant, as the guest speaker for the event on May 29. The master of ceremonies, Engineman 1st Class (SW) Renato Cordero, felt Proum was the was the perfect fit for this observance.
“There could not have been a better candidate for the program than Dr. Proum because of his Asian ethnicity and he is our very own Doc,” said Cordero. “He makes me proud to be a part of this celebration, and I am looking forward to working with Doc in the near future.”
Following the event, Proum reflected on two points he hoped participants took away from his speech.
“One is appreciation for diversity, which can be achieved through clear communication, openness and flexibility and leadership and legacy,” said Proum. “Diversity is the strength that has built and will continue to build our nation -- particularly our Navy. As our former CNO recognized, diversity is a strategic importance. Two, we need to respect each other for who we are and what we can bring to the table to achieve the same goals.”
San Diego’s diversity council chose retired Marine Sgt. Maj. Joseph Yandall, a native of American Samoa, to speak to Makin Island personnel about his experiences as a Pacific Islander in the Marine Corps.
“If we pay attention to the small things we realize that, like on the ship, the most important thing about the ship are the people sitting right here,” Yandall said.
San Diego’s Master of Ceremonies, Operation Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Paul Cordova, felt that the event turned out well, and that the portion of Yandall’s speech on leadership and division unity was very appropriate.
“His points were right where they needed to be, and what he said made good sense,” Cordova said.
Following delivery to the Navy, Makin Island will be commissioned and homeported in San Diego.
Sailors, who are in their nine to 12-month negotiating window for orders and want to be part of the pre-commissioning command, can contact their rating detailer and ask to be released to the pre-commissioning detailer for further assignment to Makin Island. Makin Island currently has almost half of its 1,100-person crew.