Columbus Federal Defense Community celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at DSCC

By Craig M. Rader DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

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Federal employees at Defense Supply Center Columbus celebrated the history and diversity of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during their annual heritage event on the installation.

The program included musical performances, award presentations and a guest speech by a decorated police officer. This year’s theme for the nationally recognized federal program was “Unite Our Voices by Speaking Together.” The theme aims to unify and strengthen the internal ties within the community through positive messaging and experiences.

Planning committees from Defense Finance and Accounting Service Columbus and Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime co-sponsored the May 10 event inside the Building 20 Auditorium at DSCC.

“There is tremendous diversity within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community,” said DLA Land and Maritime Deputy Director James McClaugherty. “With more than 14 million members representing at least 30 different ethnic groups – this community blends different cultures into an inspiring mosaic.”

Officer Edward Chung, a two-year veteran of the Columbus Division of Police, is a member of the cultural mosaic that personifies the diversity of the region. Growing up as one of the only Korean-American children in a small neighborhood in Ohio, Chung learned the value of acceptance. As an adult, he committed to give back to his community through public service. 

That service has resulted in dividends for both Chung and the community. He has received repeated recognition for his outstanding contributions to public safety, including a Public Safety Award of Excellence for rescuing a family from a burning house fire. He also currently leads the city in the number of drug overdose revivals – no small accomplishment in a district struggling with an increase in heroin addiction.

“As a kid, I didn’t look like my friends and it was a challenge because I knew I was different. Over time though, I realized that inside we were all the same,” he said. “Yes, it was a challenge, but I came to understand that everyone faces challenges in life and that’s just one of many things that unites us.”

Chung noted that in his service as a police officer, race is a non-issue when serving the community. He said his experiences growing up as a minority taught him to embrace differences across all cultures.

Following Chung’s remarks, DLA Land and Maritime Commander Navy Rear Adm. Michelle Skubic and Hoa Ta, chair of the AAPI Special Emphasis Program, announced the recipient of the 2017 Shoong Yin Award of Excellence. The award is named in honor of the former DLA Land and Maritime associate and founding member of the AAPI program who passed away in 2003.

This year’s recipient of the award was Musen Yin, a contracting officer at DLA Land and Maritime. Yin received the award for his involvement in the local AAPI community and his embodiment of Shoong Yin’s work ethic and values.

The program also included a cultural performance by Tanaka Nhong, a founding member of the Khmer Student Association at The Ohio State University. Nhong sang the famous Cambodian song, “Louch Snae Doung Chan (The Moon that Stole My Heart).”

“Our differences are the glue that holds us together,” said McClaugherty. “Every one of us is different by some noticeable measure. But look around – we’re all here today united, and that’s what America represents.”