DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. --
The month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander
Heritage Month, and provides us with an opportunity to pay tribute to Asian
Americans and Pacific Islanders and their positive contributions to our country
and communities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Asian Americans and
Pacific Islanders make up 5.6% of the nation’s population. Currently Asian
Americans and Pacific Islanders make up 4.5% of the Air Force.
Generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders helped to
defend this country, and to make America what it is today. Within the
Department of Defense a total of 33 Asian American and Pacific Islanders have
received the Medal of Honor for their actions during war and in peacetime. Maggie
Gee and Hazel Ying Lee were the first two Chinese Americans in the Women Air
Force Service Pilots (WASP). Members of the WASP program were the first brave
women to fly American military aircraft, forever changing the role of women in
aviation. Their dedicated service and record of excellence served as a gateway
for future Airmen.
Our Air Force history is filled with bold Airmen who
challenged the status quo and dared to step forward and take on the most daring
missions. Col. Ellison Onizuka was an Air Force aerospace engineer and
America’s first Asian-American in space when he flew as a mission specialist on
the Discovery. Onizuka died in the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger,
when it exploded one minute and13 seconds after launch on Jan. 28, 1986.
Throughout 22nd AF, our people are our greatest assets. We are
wingmen, leaders and warriors with heritages and skills as diverse as our
nation. In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I’m
proud to highlight two 22nd Air Force Airmen who are forging a proud legacy
that reflects the spirit of our Nation—a country that values the contributions
of everyone who calls America home.
Ms. Helen Carson is a Management Support
Specialist for the 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson AFB, Colorado. She
was born in Rota, Spain and raised on Guam, a U.S. territory. She’s been actively involved in Asian Pacific
American Heritage issues for many years, serving on committee boards for Federal Asian Pacific American
Council (FAPAC), Eglin AFB;
Asian/Pacific American Committee, Hurlburt AFB; FAPAC Hawaii Region, and
currently holds membership with FAPAC, Washington D.C.
Some of Carson’s most memorable moments are stories told by
her grandmother about how her family survived on occupied Guam during WW II. Her
goal is to publish a
children’s book on the fables of Guam and the basics of the “Chamorro” language
so that future generations would carry on the customs and dialect of
Guamanians. She has served as a Federal Civil Service
employee for 18 years with assignments in Hawaii and Florida.
Technical Sergeant Badin J. Burch is assigned to the 403rd Force Support Squadron, Keesler AFB, Mississippi.
As NCOIC of Installation Personnel Readiness,
he oversees personnel actions associated with the 403rd Wing’s deployment
and redeployment activities.
Burch was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but moved to the Gulf
Coast area when he was five years old.
His father is a native of Vietnam. His mother is a native of Thailand
and has always encouraged him to be proud of his Asian American heritage. He holds an Associate Degree in Applied
Science in Human Resource Management from the Community College of the Air
Force and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the
University of Southern Mississippi. He
is passionate about fitness and health, mentoring others and giving back to his
community. He also enjoys travelling and exploring new places. During his
almost seven years in the Air Force Reserve, Badin has deployed once to Moron,