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Asian Americans, Pacific
Islanders, and Hawaiian natives in the U.S. Navy 

Officers Cook, 3rd Class Forsia, First Native Samoan to be decorated in World War II
Officers Cook 3rd Class Forsia, a Purple Heart recipient, served in World War II. NHHC collection photo USMC 56078.

Admiral Harry B. Harris
Admiral Harry B. Harris assumed command of the U.S. Pacific Command in 2015. U.S. Navy photo.

Astronaut Sunita L. Williams
Navy Captain and astronaut Sunita L. Williams served as flight engineer and science officer on the International Space Station. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Digital Resources
  • Large format banners. Downloadable files for six-panel banner set. Provides chronological overview while also focusing on the service and sacrifice of individual Sailors such as Engineman 2nd Class Edward C. Cruz. Enginemen 2nd Class Cruz served in the Vietnam War and was killed during a patrol in 1968. He posthumously received the Purple Heart.

Additional resources such as posters, presentations, and facts of the day are available from the
Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.

Historical Perspectives
  • Asian-Americans in the U.S. Military with an Emphasis on the U.S. Navy. Essay adapted with an April 2017 update from a 2013 piece by NHHC historian Dr. Regina Akers. Discusses the rich legacy of service and sacrifice of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Highlights the accomplishments of individual Sailors from 1915 Medal of Honor recipient Telesforo Trinidad to veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Aviation machinist's mate performs aircraft engine maintenance on a carrier.
Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Charles Wang performs maintenance on an F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft engine in the hangar bay of USS Nimitz (CVN-68). U.S. Navy photo.

Aviation electronics technician waiting for cyclic flight operations to begin.
Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Rowel Delacruz waits for cyclic flight operations to begin aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63). U.S. Navy photo.

Naval Academy midshipman on summer training cruise.
Midshipman 3rd Class Melody Lee from the U.S. Naval Academy fires an M-16 rifle during a live-fire exercise on the flight deck of USS Nassau (LHA-4). U.S. Navy photo.

Notable Sailors

In the words of Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., “America’s greatest asset is not our assembly lines or weapons systems, or even our great ships, submarines, and airplanes … it’s our people.”

  • Fireman 2nd Class Telesforo Trinidad, a Sailor from the Philippines, received the Medal of Honor for rescuing two shipmates after a boiler exploded aboard USS San Diego (Armored Cruiser No. 6) on 21 January 1915.
  • Lieutenant Susan Ahn Cuddy, a Korean American who served in the Navy as a member of the WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service] and became the first woman gunnery officer.
  • Rear Admiral Ming E. Chang became the first naturalized Asian Pacific American naval officer to reach flag rank when he was promoted to rear admiral in 1980.
  • Senior leaders including Rear Admiral Peter A. Gumataotao and Rear Admiral Ron J. MacLaren have continued the tradition of leadership and service.
  • Command Master Chief Josephine Tauoa became the first Samoan Command Master Chief on 26 February 2020. Her first command master chief assignment was aboard USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93), named in honor of the Asian American and Pacific Islander, Rear Admiral Gordon Pai'ea Chung-Hoon.


Ships Named for Asian American and Pacific Islander Service Members
  • Chung-Hoon (DDG-93) is named in honor of Rear Admiral Gordon Pai’ea Chung-Hoon, commander of USS Sigsbee (DD-502) during World War II. He received the Navy Cross for his actions during a 14 April 1945 kamikaze attack.
  • Daniel Inouye (DDG-118) is named in honor of Senator Daniel Inouye. Senator Inouye served in the U.S. Army during World War II and received the Medal of Honor for his actions on 21 April 1945 in a battle near San Terenzo, Italy.
  • Pililaau (T-AKR-304) is named in honor of U.S. Army Private First Class Herbert Kailieha Pililaau, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor during the Korean War.
  • Yano (T-AKR-297) is named in honor of Sergeant First Class Rodney James Takahashi Yano, U.S. Army. Sergeant Yano was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions near Bien Hoa, Vietnam, on 1 January 1969.

Photo # NH 106860-KN USS Chung-Hoon

USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93) underway during builder's sea trials on 26 January 2004. Photograph by Ingalls Shipbuilding. NHHC collection photo NH 106860-KN.

Published: Tue Jun 11 13:11:51 EDT 2024