Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jose Holguin

BREMERTON, Wash. – The Multicultural Committee aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) held a ceremony honoring Asian-American and Pacific Islander heritage, May 28.

The ceremony highlighted this year’s theme, “I am Beyond,” by focusing on the contributions of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout the Navy.

“Today we are celebrating the culture and contributions of more than 20,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders currently serving in the Navy,” said Stennis’ commanding officer Capt. Michael Wettlaufer. “Our cultural diversity makes us a stronger force.”

The ceremony featured musical performances including an acoustic Filipino folk song, a traditional Tahitian dance, and personal stories by Sailors from Palau, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.

“The phrase Asian and Pacific Islanders encompasses not only Asia but also more than 20 Pacific islands,” said guest speaker Cmdr. Nonito Blas, Stennis’ chief engineer, from Mangila, Guam. “It’s important to not only celebrate our culture but to share it as well.”

Machinist’s Mate Fireman April Chamchalaem, from Bangkok, participated in the ceremony to not only share her culture but to educate her friends about her home country.

“It was a great opportunity to show people a side of my country [Thailand] that they may not know,” said Chamchalaem. “When my friends pull into port in Thailand, they hardly scratch the surface of all the things my country has to offer.”

For more information on the history and heritage of Asian-American and Pacific Islanders visit http://www.asianpacificheritage.gov.

For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit http://www.stennis.navy.mil or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

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