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News | May 13, 2020

DLA Distribution Commanding Officer honors national Asian-Pacific islander month

By DLA Distribution Public Affairs

DLA Distribution joins the Department of Defense and the nation in paying tribute to the Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians who demonstrated selfless service and sacrifice in the U.S. Army, Army Air Forces, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, National Guard, and the home front during World War II.

The United States joined World War II as a response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. World War II brought Asian Americans to the forefront of our society. For some it provided opportunities, for others, it caused loss and disillusionment. Many Asian-American groups answered the call to duty and served with distinction in the European and Pacific theaters many taking part in the liberation of their ancestral homelands. More than 20,000 Chinese Americans, or one out of every five in the United States, served in the U.S. Armed Forces. For Filipinos, the call to serve in the organized military forces of the former American colony came from President Roosevelt on July 26, 1941. More than 260,000 Filipino and Filipino American soldiers served during the war.

Asian-Pacific-American women first entered military service during World War II. The Women’s Army Corps (WAC) recruited 50 Japanese-American and Chinese-American women and sent them to the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, for training as military translators. Of these women, 21 were assigned to the Pacific Military Intelligence Research Section at Camp Ritchie, Maryland. The women worked with captured Japanese documents, extracting information pertaining to military plans, as well as political and economic information.

In 1899, U.S. Navy Commander Benjamin F. Tilley was assigned to Pago Pago Harbor in Samoa to become the first commandant of the new naval station. One of his first requests to the Navy Department was for permission to enlist Samoans as landsmen in the U.S. Navy. He was authorized to enlist 58 men for four years. By World War II the Fita Fita (Samoan for soldier) counted 100 men in its ranks. Samoans regarded the Fita Fita as an elite group, and the men served with pride and dignity. Most reenlisted, making the Navy their career. They served as seamen aboard the station ship, radiomen, crewmen for small boats, guards and orderlies. When the Navy left American Samoa after World War II, most of the Fita Fita transferred to Hawaii.

Domingo Los Banos, Jr. was born in Wahiawa, before Hawaii officially entered into statehood. He was raised on Kauai’s pineapple plantation fields along with his siblings. In 1944, he joined his brother Alfred in U.S. military service. Three of the Los Banos brothers served in World War II and were deployed in the Philippines, Korea, and Vietnam. In 1945, as a 19-year-old U.S. Army Sergeant, Los Banos was one of the 300 recruits from Hawaii that made up the First and Second Filipino Infantry Regiments. General Douglas MacArthur deployed these men in retaking the Philippines from the Japanese as part of the United States’ retaliation for the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

This month, the DoD pays tribute to the men and women who pushed gender-defined barriers. They fought for what they believed in, paving the way for those who came after them, changing the course of history, and redefining the United States military.

HOOYAH Distribution!