Active-duty officers of Asian descent discuss their paths to joining the Navy, their views on recent anti-Asian bias and hate crimes, and being role models for others of Asian descent looking to join the Navy. Panelists include Captain Henry S. Kim, Commander Tin T. Tran, and Lieutenant William Xu.
The panel was moderated by Kathryn Denise Krepp, Director, Director’s Action Group (DAG), Naval History and Heritage Command.
This event is co-sponsored by the Judge Advocate General’s Corps in recognition of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The program is for Washington Navy Yard base personnel, CAC holders, and active duty and retired military members.
Captain Henry Kim is a native of Los Angeles, California and was commissioned in 1996 from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) NROTC program with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations. Specializing in East Asian Studies, he gained fluency in Korean and Japanese. He has served onboard USS Port Royal (CG 73), USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), and as Flag Aide to Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific (COMLOG WESTPAC). He attended Naval Postgraduate School where he earned a Master’s degree in Operations Research and a second Master’s Degree in Defense Systems & Technology from the National University of Singapore. He later served as Chief Engineer onboard USS Vandergrift (FFG 48), Seventh Fleet and later as Executive Officer of Mine Countermeasures (MCM) CREW CONSTANT, completing two deployments to the Arabian Gulf and supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He has served as Commanding Officer of USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) and then became the first N8/9 Branch Head for the Naval Surface & Mine Warfighting Development Center, or SWO “Top Gun,” responsible for all Surface Warfare Tactics and Doctrine development. He consequently has served as the Chief of Staff for US Naval Forces Korea and was later selected for the Federal Executive Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, MA. Other commands include Commander, LCS Mine Division TWELVE, Commander, and Amphibious Squadron THREE. He is currently the Executive Assistant and acting Deputy to Director, Expeditionary Warfare on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense and Navy Meritorious Service Medals, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation and Achievement Medals, and the Joint Service Achievement Medal.
Commander Tin T. Tran is the son of refugees from Vietnam. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1998 under the Seamen Apprenticeship program aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) in Yokosuka, Japan. Two years later, the Navy selected him for the Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training program and commissioned him as a naval officer through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. A Surface Warfare officer and graduate of the Maritime Advanced Warfighting School, he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Jacksonville, Florida, a Master’s degree in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego, California, and a Master’s degree in National Defense and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, Rhode Island. At sea, he deployed with USS Dextrous (MCM 13), USS Champion (MCM 4), USS Cape St. George (CG 71), and USS McCampbell (DDG 85) (the proud recipient of the 2012 Battle Effectiveness Award). He was selected for assignment as Executive Officer of USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) from May 2019 to December 2020. Ashore, he served as the fleet watch officer, then deputy current operations officer for Combined Maritime Force staff, and, later, joint operations planner on the staff of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet; fleet liaison officer for Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona Division; and action officer on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, N96 Surface Warfare Directorate. He is an honored recipient of the 2013 Surface Navy Association’s Admiral Arleigh Burke Surface Warfare Excellence Award. His decorations include the Navy Commendation Medal (six gold stars), Navy Achievement Medal, and various unit and campaign awards. Commander Tran was Commanding Officer of USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) from February 2021 to August 2022.
Lieutenant William Xu is a Judge Advocate (JAG), currently serving as a defense attorney for the Guantanamo Military Commissions. LT Xu was born near Shanghai, China, and immigrated to New York with his family at a young age. He pursued engineering as an undergraduate but felt compelled to apply to law school after community organizing work. As a lawyer, LT Xu worked with the Red Cross on international law issues before joining the Brooklyn Public Defender Services. He then earned a direct commission into the Navy JAGC in 2008. Prior to the military commissions, LT Xu served as a military defense counsel in San Diego and Bahrain.