Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | military
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Retired Army General Eric Shinseki was named by Obama to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs Back on Veterans Day I posted an article about how Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been heroes for generations in the U.S. military, and ended the article with a note about retired Four-Star Gen. Eric Shinseki, former Army Chief of Staff and the highest-ranked AAPI in the military. Today, NBC released an excerpt of an interview with Barack Obama to air on tomorrow's "Meet the Press" program, during which the President-elect tells Tom Brokaw that he's naming Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The timing of the announcement isn't coincidental. Tomorrow is Sunday, December 7, the 67th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Shinseki is Japanese American, and he was born in Hawai'i on November, 28, 1942. He and Barack Obama both have childhood roots in Hawai'i. Shinseki is a Vietnam veteran, who lost part of a foot from stepping on a land mine. He was named Army Chief of Staff in 1999 and retired in 2003... many thought, under duress from the Bush administration for his views which contradicted the official one on the war against Iraq. On February 25, 2003, a few months before the end of his appointment and the start of his retirement, Shinseki testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that he thought an occupying force of several hundred thousand men would be needed to stabilize postwar Iraq. His analysis was bluntly dismissed by the Bush administration. Here's part of a transcript of the proceedings:

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.