Incirlik observes Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Andrea Salazar
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is celebrated throughout the month of May to honor Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

During this month, Incirlik Air Base along with the Department of Defense recognize those whose lineage originates from this geographical area, and the benefits they bring to the U.S.

“To me, the celebration of Asian American and Pacific Island heritage in May has always symbolized diversity and inclusion,” said Chief Master Sgt. Maribeth Ferrer, 39th Air Base Wing Medical Group superintendent. “Undeniably, the unparalleled strength of the world’s greatest Air Force comes from the diverse thoughts and talents that make up our force.”

Ferrer, who was recently selected as the wing’s next command chief, shared her pride serving as an Asian-American in the Air Force, and expressed how the importance of inclusivity, diversity and community provide a valuable contribution to the military and the country as a whole.

“Being selected as the next command chief of the 39th Air Base Wing is a humbling but truly proud moment for me and my family because of the continued representation and voice to advance the AAPI community,” she added.

Senior Airman Joshua Esposo, a paralegal assigned to the 39th Air Base Wing legal office and the president of the wing’s Asian Pacific Heritage Association, also shared his experience growing up in the Filipino and Samoan culture and incorporating it into his service.

“The Filipino and Samoan culture place high regard on the importance of family before anything else,” said Esposo. “With seven siblings, 24 aunts and uncles, and too many cousins to count, it wasn’t difficult to realize the significance of familial bonds.”

Initially after joining the military, he felt as though the Air Force stole him away from his family.

“After some time, I realized the Air Force was just an expansion of my family,” he added. “As an Asian/Pacific Islander in the Air Force, it doesn’t matter where I get stationed; I know I’ll have family ready to welcome me with an open heart, open arms and a full plate.”

Generations of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders helped build and defend the United States and forged a proud legacy that reflects the spirit of our nation, Esposo remarked.

“Understanding that everyone has something unique to bring to the table, keeps myself and others of my background open-minded and empathetic to those around us,” he said. “This month is meant to celebrate the culture, traditions, history and sacrifices of all Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States, so let’s do just that.”