Makin Island Sailors and Marines Observe Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month
USS MAKIN ISLAND, At sea – Sailors serving aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), along with Marines from the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), paused from their daily operations to observe Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month with a ceremony on the ship's mess decks, May 31.
Makin Island’s Diversity Committee organized the event that included music, guest speakers, a Haka dance performance and a cake-cutting ceremony.
“Sailors of Asian and Pacific American heritage have been serving in the Navy since the early 1800s,” said Capt. Cedric E. Pringle, Makin Island’s commanding officer. “Those who served include many flag officers, master chiefs and other leaders who have embodied the Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment.”
Pringle said that the month of May was formally designated as Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992.
“As your commanding officer, I am committed to embracing diversity and inclusion on all levels,” said Pringle. “Please join me in celebrating the theme of ‘Striving for Excellence in Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion,’ but always remember that excellence is a journey and not a destination.”
Lt. Cmdr. Rommel Salgado, Makin Island’s combat systems officer and guest speaker for the event, spoke about his life as a Filipino-American and how the Navy recognizes cultural diversity.
“The Navy is like a second family that accepts who you are and works with you no matter your strengths and weaknesses,” said Salgado. “Keep connecting the lines between you and your heritage.”
Salgado said his father and father-in-law, both Philippine Americans and Navy Sailors, influenced his decision to join the Navy. He said that he joined the Philippine American Club as a young man and learned to embrace his roots.
“I learned courage from my father, a mess cook, and humility from my father-in-law, an engineman,” Salgado told the audience during his speech.
Sailors and Marines who attend the ceremony said they walked away with a greater understanding of the contributions and heritage of Asian and Pacific Americans.
“The ceremony opened my eyes to our Navy’s culture of inclusion and diversity,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Cory Stennhard, a Makin Island Sailor who attended the ceremony. “As an Asian American, there are a lot of us who have helped make the nation what it is, especially in the Navy. There are a lot of us out there doing good things.”
The ceremony concluded with a performance by the ship’s choir, a traditional war dance known as the Haka performed by Sailors and Marines of Asian and Pacific American heritage, and an official cake-cutting. A special “Mongolian Barbecue” dinner meal was also served to the crew as part of the observance.
Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group that is currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
The 7th Fleet area of operations includes more than 52 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, stretching from the international date line to the east coast of Africa, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.