USS MAKIN ISLAND, At sea
– Sailors serving aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), along with Marines from the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), paused from their daily operations to observe Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month with a ceremony on the ship's mess decks, May 31.
Makin Island’s Diversity Committee
organized the event that included music, guest speakers, a Haka
dance performance and a cake-cutting ceremony.
“Sailors of Asian and Pacific American heritage have been serving in
the Navy since the early 1800s,” said Capt. Cedric E. Pringle, Makin
Island’s commanding officer. “Those who served include many flag
officers, master chiefs and other leaders who have embodied the Navy
core values of honor, courage and commitment.”
Pringle said that the month of May was formally designated as Asian
and Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992.
“As your commanding officer, I am committed to embracing diversity
and inclusion on all levels,” said Pringle. “Please join me in
celebrating the theme of ‘Striving for Excellence in Leadership,
Diversity and Inclusion,’ but always remember that excellence is a
journey and not a destination.”
Lt. Cmdr. Rommel Salgado, Makin Island’s combat systems officer and
guest speaker for the event, spoke about his life as a
Filipino-American and how the Navy recognizes cultural diversity.
“The Navy is like a second family that accepts who you are and works
with you no matter your strengths and weaknesses,” said Salgado.
“Keep connecting the lines between you and your heritage.”
Salgado said his father and father-in-law, both Philippine Americans
and Navy Sailors, influenced his decision to join the Navy. He said
that he joined the Philippine American Club as a young man and
learned to embrace his roots.
“I learned courage from my father, a mess cook, and humility from my
father-in-law, an engineman,” Salgado told the audience during his
Sailors and Marines who attend the ceremony said they walked away
with a greater understanding of the contributions and heritage of
Asian and Pacific Americans.
“The ceremony opened my eyes to our Navy’s culture of inclusion and
diversity,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Cory Stennhard, a
Makin Island Sailor who attended the ceremony. “As an Asian
American, there are a lot of us who have helped make the nation what
it is, especially in the Navy. There are a lot of us out there doing
The ceremony concluded with a performance by the ship’s choir, a
traditional war dance known as the Haka performed by Sailors and
Marines of Asian and Pacific American heritage, and an official
cake-cutting. A special “Mongolian Barbecue” dinner meal was also
served to the crew as part of the observance.
Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a
hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion
system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to
see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's
commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps
that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary
of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and
efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and
help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready
Group that is currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of
The 7th Fleet area of operations includes more than 52 million
square miles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, stretching from the
international date line to the east coast of Africa, and from the
Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.