Asian Americans are woven into fabric of U.S. military

For Veteran’s Day, 2008: Hoang Nguyen, 37, knew as a kid that he would join the U.S. military. “I wanted to repay back the United States for helping my family after the fall of Saigon,” he says.

He remembers the chaos of the end of the Vietnam war in the late ‘70s. “We took a boat from Vietnam to Guam, then flew to the U.S. with the help of American troops,” he says. “The military had a big impact on me at a young age.”

That’s a common feeling among younger Asian Americans, he says, if they came out of the Vietnam War experience.

Hoang attended the Air Force Academy, earned a Bachelors of Arts & Science, and went into pilots training at 22. “My parents were initially slightly cautious” about his decision to join the military, he says. “My father did not want me to go through the rough times he went through. But my mother was elated.” (He’s shown above, with his mother, Hanh Ha, at the ceremony when he was promoted to the rank of Major.)

Luckily, the closest he got to combat duty was conducting fly-overs in the Middle East between the two Iraq wars. He left the Air Force in 2000 (the official word is “separated”) and joined American Airlines.

After 9/11, he said, his patriotism led him to join the reserves. He’s now a full-time active guard reservist and reached the rank of Major in 2005.

AAPIs fighting for America

When the subject of Asians fighting in the U.S. military comes up, the first thought is the Japanese American 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. Many of those soldiers enlisted even though their families were incarcerated in American concentration camps. Continue reading

Wanna host a Japanese Game Show on MTV?

You read it correctly: MTV is looking for a host for a new Japanese Game Show to be produced here in the U.S. They’re casting around for a hip young Asian American dude. here are the details, copied from an email I was sent by an MTV casting producer for series development:

“MTV is searching for a host for a fun, energetic Japanese game show pilot. They’re looking for outgoing, articulate, spirited people who appear to be between the ages of 21 – 35 and appear to be Japanese or of Japanese descent. Candidates must possess bold personalities and a devilish sense of humor.

“People that exude a lot of enthusiasm, have wicked personalities, distinct styles and possess a unique charm on tape should apply ASAP. The perfect candidate would have a Johnny Knoxville-like appeal. If this describes you, please email nycastingteam@gmail.com immediately. Television credits are not necessary. Improv / comedy backgrounds are a plus. There will be compensation.

“It is an amazing opportunity for the right talent, so please email nycastingteam@gmail.com with a headshot / pic and let them know why you’d be the perfect game show host. Must be well-versed in the English language. Union and non-union okay. Taping will be in New York.”

If I were young and hip, I’d apply. At least I got the JA male part down!

Asian Americans in Hollywood speaking out for Obama

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders definitely seem more engaged with the political process these days. Maybe it’s the DNC being in Denver that’s made me sensitive to everything that’s going on. Maybe it’s Obama’s Hawai’i connections. Or maybe AAPIs are finally coming out of the shadows and fighting to have our voices heard, and not be invisible anymore.

Here’s an email being distributed by the group, Asian Americans for Obama, by the Hawai’ian-born actress Kelly Hu, who showed up unannounced at an AAPI Caucus meeting during the DNC (shown above):
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Asian Americans at the Democratic National Convention


Actress Tamlyn Tomita speaks bout her support for APIAVote, a non-profit organization that promotes Asian Americans’ involvement in politics, especially getting AAPIs to vote.

Erin and I have been busy all week, running around to various Asian American Pacific Islander events during the Democratic National Convention. Denver’s all dolled up and feeling like a real city, and it all culminates with tonight’s acceptance speech by Barack Obama.

We were fortunate to be given a pair of tickets to the main event (by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, whom I happened to run into on the downtown 16th Street Mall — I’ve known him for years, from before his political career, when he opened Wynkoop Brewing Co., the first brewpub in Colorado). So I’ll post a report later tonight or tomorrow about the speech.

We’re not delegates or involved in the local Democratic party organization. but we are very involved in the local AAPI community, so we ended up participating in some cool events that are part of the DNC, like an Asian American Summit and an AAPI Caucus, during which issues affecting the AAPI community and ways to organize and get AAPIs incolved in politics were discussed. I was also honored to be one of the emcees for an APIAVote Gala, along with actress Tamlyn Tomita and former CNN and CBS anchor Joie Chen (who, I found out, is half Chinese and half Japanese). Erin went to more events than I did, volunteering at a luncheon and breakfast during the week.

Anyway, here are a handful of videos from the week that have to do with the AAPI community. Enjoy!
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DNC AAPI Caucus: Maya Soetoro-Ng, Barack Obama’s half-sister

Asian American voters were treated this morning by a surprise visit by Barack Obama’s half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, during the Asian American Pacific Islander caucus at the Democratic National Convention. She gave a rousing speech that fired up the people in the room.