May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

  • Published
  • By Peter Borys
  • 914th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Why Do We Celebrate APA Heritage Month?

Asian Pacific Americans have contributed significantly to American culture and society, including science, medicine, the arts, sports, government and the military.

APA have a long history in the United States, and according to the Bering Land Bridge Theory, Asians first migrated to what is now known as North America over 15,000 years ago through a land bridge between Asia and North America. In the 16th century, Filipinos who were escaping forced labor and enslavement during the Spanish galleon trade immigrated to North America, eventually establishing a settlement in St. Malo, Louisiana in 1763. During the California Gold Rush of the 1850s, a wave of Asian immigrants came to the West Coast and provided labor for gold mines, factories and the transcontinental railroad.

Since the Civil War, Asian Americans have served in our military with distinction. Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives; some have barely survived saving others. While fighting the enemy, they also fought discrimination at home from those who viewed them as less than American. Sometimes that included their fellow troops.

From the Philippine-American War to the Vietnam War, close to three dozen Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration for valor, according to the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.

During World War II around 19,000 Japanese Americans, 20,000 Chinese Americans, and more than 260,000 Filipino and Filipino American soldiers fought to defeat the Axis powers.

The Korean, Vietnam and Iraq Wars continued to see Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians serve. Others like Laotians fought alongside the U.S. during a “secret war” in Laos against North Vietnamese forces.

Today, Asian Pacific Americans make up over 12% of our military’s total active-duty force. In the 914th Air Refueling Wing specifically that figure is at nearly 3%.

Of that percentage, two of our wing members, Senior Airman Jilienne Landicho, a 914th Aeromedical Staging Squadron medical technician, and Tech. Sgt. Reggie Patterson, a 914th Logistics Readiness Squadron aircraft maintenance supply liaison, contribute to the wing’s overall mission.

Senior Airman Landicho was born in the Philippines, having served with the 914th ASTS since 2019, but prior to that was an Army Reservist.

“I really missed the camaraderie and the training when I got out. I also knew that I wanted to do something in the healthcare field. I thought that reenlisting as a medical technician and combining my passions for the military and the healthcare field would be a great way to experience it,” said Landicho.

While on military status she is a medical technician.

“I mainly help out by taking vital signs in physical exams and with the Infection Control Program,” she claimed. “I have also aided with training exercise preparations in the past.”

When not in uniform Landicho is a full-time biology major student and works for a local news company, editing news articles and managing their social media.

Landicho is not the only member of her family to serve.

“My great grandfather was in the United States Armed Forces in the Far East during World War II. I have an aunt and uncle, who are both active-duty U.S. Army officers,” she said.

When asked what it means to serve her country especially as an Asian Pacific American she answered; “I definitely wear my uniform with pride and being able to represent and contribute to something much greater than myself has given me a lot of purpose.” She added, “I remembered going to Basic Training and meeting different people from all over the country coming from different walks of life and I loved that regardless of how diverse and unique we all were, we were all united in the fact that we are dedicated to serve our country.”

Senior Airman Landicho’s future aspiration is to become a physician and give back to her community.

Another unit member from the Philippines is Tech. Sgt. Reggie Patterson, who in his reserve capacity is an aircraft maintenance supply liaison, providing logistical support by ordering, tracking and issuing parts to maintenance personnel.

As a civilian he continues to serve in a different way by working for Pegasus Support Services’ a civilian contractor where he manages, maintains and issues Individual Protective Equipment (IPE) for training purposes and real-world scenario.

With over 18 years of service, three of Patterson’s last years have been with the 914th Logistics Readiness Squadron here at the 914th.

He also comes from a military family.

“My Dad was in the Marine Corps for four years and then 25+ years as an Aircrew Flight Equipment Technician here at the 914th Air Refueling Wing,” said Patterson.

He added, “It means a great deal to be able to serve with the men and women of such diverse cultures/backgrounds who all share the same purpose of protecting and serving our country.”

Tech Sgt. Patterson’s future aspirations include finishing up his Community College of the Air Force Associates Degree, making Master Sgt. and retire in 20 years of combined service.