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332nd AEW hosts keynote speaker honoring AAPI Heritage Month

AAPI Heritage Month

Dr. Ravi Chaudhary, a spokesperson on the importance of Asian American Pacific Islander servicemembers, explains their contributions to Airmen deployed to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, May 12, 2021. The engagement was scheduled in honor of AAPI Heritage Month and coincides with a number of planned events for the month of May. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

AAPI Heritage Month

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Desirae Karchner, the chairperson of the Asian American Pacific Islander Council, helped organize the event and acted as the moderator for a virtual keynote speech by Dr. Ravi Chaudhary, an AAPI advocate, May 12, 2021. The engagement was scheduled in honor of AAPI Heritage Month and coincides with a number of planned events for the month of May. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jamie Spaulding)

AAPI Heritage Month

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Joseph Kunkel, the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Commander, listens as Dr. Ravi Chaudhary, a spokesperson on the importance of Asian American Pacific Islander servicemembers, explains their contributions to the military, May 12, 2021. The engagement was scheduled in honor of AAPI Heritage Month and coincides with a number of planned events for the month of May. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jack Layman)

AAPI Heritage Month

U.S. Air Force Capt. Eve Derfelt, the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs Officer poses a question during a question and answer session following a virtual keynote speech from Dr. Ravi Chaudhary, a spokesperson on the importance of Asian American Pacific Islander contributions to the military, May 12, 2021. The engagement was scheduled in honor of AAPI Heritage Month and coincides with a number of planned events for the month of May. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

AAPI Heritage Month

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Freddie Kincaid, a contracting squadron Airman, asks Dr. Ravi Chaudhary a question during an Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month virtual keynote speech, May 12, 2021. The engagement was scheduled in honor of AAPI Heritage Month and coincides with a number of planned events for the month of May. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jack Layman)

AAPI Heritage Month

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Joseph Kunkel, the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Commander, listens as Dr. Ravi Chaudhary, a spokesperson on the importance of Asian American Pacific Islander servicemembers, explains their contributions to the military, May 12, 2021. The engagement was scheduled in honor of AAPI Heritage Month and coincides with a number of planned events for the month of May. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jack Layman)

AAPI Heritage Month

U.S. Air Force Airmen deployed to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing gather to hear a virtual keynote speech by Dr. Ravi Chaudhary, a spokesperson on the importance of Asian American Pacific Islander servicemembers who have contributed to the military, May 12, 2021. The engagement was scheduled in honor of AAPI Heritage Month and coincides with a number of planned events for the month of May. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jack Layman)

332nd AIR EXPEDITIONARY WING --

The 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing commissioned a virtual keynote speech from an advocate for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage, May 12, 2021.

Dr. Ravi Chaudhary is a notable voice for the contributions of AAPI servicemembers to the military and the nation at large. He is Indian American, born to first generation immigrants who made their way to Minneapolis, Minn., and who chose to pursue an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“I chose to become a pilot in the United States Air Force for one main reason—I am the son of immigrants,” Chaudhary said. “In many ways my choice pales in comparison to the courage of my parents who emigrated to the U.S. from India. They chose to give up everything they knew, loved and was familiar to them, in order to pursue the American dream.”

Their courage laid the foundation of a career that led him from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the flight deck of the C-17 Globemaster, and after retirement, an appointment to a position with the Federal Aviation Administration and subsequently to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by President Obama in 2014. 

“This was the gift given to me by my parents when they chose to immigrate to America, and further cultivated by the Air Force,” he said.

“The story of AAPIs in military service in not without the heroes who we celebrate,” he said going on to cite the more than 30 AAPI service members have earned the Medal of Honor.

“We can go all the way back to the revolutionary War to find AAPIs serving,” he said, adding that during WWII, “The 442nd Regimental Combat Team remains the most decorated unit in U.S. military history.”

He explained to the assembled Airmen that diversity lends its strength to the mission and that by showcasing every distinct culture including the 56 distinct ethnic groups who fall under the banner of AAPI and all others, we make the force stronger. He summed it up with the phrase, “diversity for the mission, not and the mission.”

He ended his speech thanking all the Airmen for their individual contributions to the mission and encouraging each of them to bring their authentic selves to the workplace, explaining that doing so takes courage and is something they should aspire to—for the betterment of the Air Force and for the nation.