Air Force Brig. Gen. Jimmy “Vegas” Canlas is the Defense Logistics Agency Energy commander responsible for enabling mission readiness by providing globally resilient energy solutions to the Warfighter and Whole of Government. He was commissioned in 1992 and is a command pilot with more than 4,400 hours in the C-21A, KC-135R and C-17A. He has broad experience having commanded an airlift squadron, an expeditionary group, and an airlift wing. He is a joint qualified officer having served with the United Nations Command in Korea and on the U.S. European Command (J-4) staff in Germany.
Raised in the Philippines, we asked him what Asian Pacific American Heritage Month means to him and why his heritage is important:
“We all stand on the shoulders of giants. For me, those giants are my grandfather, a World War II Army veteran who survived the Bataan death march, and my father, a Navy Seabee and Vietnam veteran. Those great men inspired me to serve. They both served our great nation selflessly and fought for the principles of freedom and democracy despite growing up in the Philippines, and never having experienced life in the United States. This month allows us to acknowledge those who paved the way before us, celebrate those who widened that path, and inspire the next generation to break through the so-called “bamboo ceiling.” I appreciate this opportunity to allow others to learn about the diverse cultures that make up the AAPI demographic, to promote understanding behind an often-misunderstood minority group.
I am proud of my Asian Pacific heritage. To be totally transparent, there were times when I was younger where that was not the case--I did not know how to handle being different. But over the years, I have learned to embrace it and be proud of it. There is much more than just the delicious food (#beyondlumpia), but traditions and cultures that shaped me into who I am today. I still speak two dialects in Filipino: Tagalog, which is the main dialect in the Philippines, and Pampango, which is spoken in the region where I grew up. My wife and I are from the province of Pampanga where Clark Air Base used to be until it closed back in the early 1990s. Our kids enjoyed visiting the Philippines on multiple occasions and they enjoy learning more about the history and culture of the Philippines.”
Read more about Canlas, his career and leadership in an interview titled, “A conversation with Air Force Brig. Gen. Jimmy Canlas."