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332nd AEW hosts keynote speaker honoring AAPI Heritage Month

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 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 share stories of gallantry of numerous AAPI service members throughout U.S. history.

“We can go all the way back to the War of 1812 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, “It’s not about diversity or the mission, it’s diversity for 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.