LAAFB celebrates Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month

  • Published
  • By Alanna Sakamoto
  • Space Base Delta 3

The Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) heritage committee and volunteers from Space Base Delta 3 (SBD 3) at  Los Angeles Air Force Base (LA AFB) hosted four events this month to celebrate the Asian American Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage observance.

A large, orange dragon helped herald the month’s celebrations on May 1, 2024 by welcoming LA AFB members to the kick-off event in the Schriever Courtyard. Tables were adorned with memorabilia that represented different AANHPI cultures, and participants enjoyed Thai iced tea and chocolate cake.

On May 8, Mr. David Hinesley led a class in Eskrima also known as stick fighting. A traditional Filipino martial art, Eskrima can be practiced with sticks, knives, swords, handheld weapons or by hand-to-hand techniques. Hinesley focused his instruction on self-defense maneuvers allowing students to implement their new skills by defending themselves against him.

For spring roll connoisseurs, Mr. Van Ha hosted a cooking class, sharing not only how to make them but also preparing a delicious, accompanying peanut sauce. Participants in the cooking class then built their own lunch, applying the knowledge and expert tips Ha demonstrated. There wasn’t a drop of peanut sauce left!

Culminating the AAHNPI Heritage Month was a celebration in the Gordon Conference Center which featured two keynote speakers, cultural dances, a martial arts demonstration, and a fashion show. Maj. Kheim Nguyen shared his uncle’s story of escaping Vietnam’s communist regime and finding opportunity in the United States. His uncle eventually sponsored Nguyen and his family to join him in the United States. Desiring to give back to the country that gave to him, Nguyen applied to and was accepted by the Air Force Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) in 2011. He was placed in reserve status as he attended New York University, College of Dentistry, and became active duty in 2014 after graduating from dental school.

Senior Airman Daniel Moshiri reminded the audience, how Iran and the Middle East are also a part of Asia, thus celebrate AANHPI as well. He shared a brief history of Iran and his family’s story of immigration during his keynote address.

The heritage performance then showcased Mrs. Katai Rodenberg and Master Sgt. Kristin Rosales performing dances from Thailand, the Philippines, and India. A few audience members were welcomed on stage and received a mini lesson in Bollywood-style dancing. After Hinesley, Tech. Sgt. Brian Williams and Tech. Sgt. Taylor Moore demonstrated a fierce battle of Eskrima that ultimately shattered some of the sticks, audience members were again encouraged to come on stage—this time to try breaking boards. The performance portion of the event closed with a fashion show modeling Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, and Indian traditional clothing styles. Ms. Rosema Hermano lent the costumes for the occasion.

Senior Airman Anthony LaFlash, the narrator for the event, concluded the ceremony, “Let us remember the thousands of Asian American, Hawaiian Natives, and Pacific Islanders who honorably served in our country’s armed forces throughout its history. We thank them for bringing the traditions, strength, and honor to the diversity that creates this country we all call home.”

Inspired by the celebrations? Join the team to plan future events! AAHNPI is looking for a new council; the positions of President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Historian are available. If interested in the council positions or joining the organization to volunteer with future events, please contact Staff Sgt. Denielle Cuano, Capt. Joyce Flores, and Mr. David Hinesley.

See more photos at our Flickr album here: Asian American Pacific Heritage Celebration | Flickr