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11 Servicemembers Receive Asian-Pacific American Council Award

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2006 – More than 250 people from across the mainland, South Korea, Japan, Hawaii and the Pacific islands watched as 11 servicemembers were lauded during a Defense Department luncheon and awards ceremony here honoring Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.

Servicemembers from each service, including the Coast Guard, Army and Air National Guards, and the reserves, were awarded the Federal Asian-Pacific American Council's Military Meritorious Service Award May 10.

The award recognizes servicemen and women who distinguished themselves in the war on terrorism; whose activities best support the ideas of duty, honor, country; or who best epitomize the core values and the citizen-warrior attributes of their respective military service, officials said. The award also acknowledges their contributions to the advancement of Asian and Pacific Americans and the promotion of equal opportunity in the federal workforce and the Asian-Pacific American community.

The DoD luncheon and award ceremony's keynote speaker, David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, presented the awards to the military recipients.

The awardees were:

  • Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Esekia L. Motu was cited for meritorious service as the top noncommissioned and warehouse chief for Marine Corps Base, Camp Smedley Butler Base Supply, Okinawa, Japan. Working with U.S. and Japanese citizens of varying backgrounds, Motu is instrumental in developing an understanding and common trust between the different groups, according to the award citation. He was also recognized for volunteer work.
  • Navy Cmdr. Ariel C. Nagales, the 2005 Navy Reserve Officer of the Year, was cited for exceptionally meritorious service as senior Navy Reserve advisor for nine months in 2005 while his superior officer was deployed. In civilian life, Nagales was named the Greater Tampa (Fla.) Chamber of Commerce 2005 Military Citizen of the Year, which highlights his volunteer service to Asian-Pacific Americans and others in the community.
  • Navy dentist, Lt. Mercedes Lau, was honored for improving relations between sailors aboard the USS Fort McHenry and in the Japanese community. She's credited with preparing various events that taught sailors customs and traditions of the host country. The award citation praises her for being "a strong and positive mentor to all young Asian-Pacific Americans within her command." She also provided dental assistance to victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami.
  • Army Lt. Col. George Ishikata, of the California Army National Guard, was cited for meritorious service as commander of the guard's 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion (Linguist). Ishikata led "consideration of others" training to insure an appreciation for diversity. He also acted as the project officer for a test program being fielded in California, Michigan and Texas to enlist soldiers from various ethnic communities.
  • Air Force Maj. Connie O.Y. Wong, of the California Air National Guard was recognized for fostering principals of democracy in areas around the world where democratic values are new ideas. She was lauded for her service to the nation and improved democratic values within the Ukraine and Nigeria.
  • Coast Guard Capt. Jeffery S. Lee, was recognized for outstanding leadership and contributions to the Asian-Pacific community while he was chief of the Command and Operations School in the Leadership and Development Center, at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, in New London, Conn. He founded and advised the cadet Asian-Pacific American club and served as a mentor to more than 180 cadets.
  • Former Navy petty officer and now Army Reserve Maj. Timothy Charles Stutler, a lawyer assigned to the 78th Legal Support Organization in Los Alamitos, Calif., was honored for "devoting most of his adult life to public service." He was also honored for being a leader of California's Asian-Pacific American community.
  • Army nurse Maj. America Planas, was called an outstanding and innovative visionary leader while assigned to the 18th Medical Command, 168th Medical Battalion at Camp Walker, Taegu, Korea. "A subject matter expert on diabetes management, Planas coordinates and instructs numerous educational programs in the community that forester awareness on health related issues," the citation notes.
  • Air Force Reserve Senior Airman Lyn C. Yin was honored for distinguishing herself as an aviation resource manager at the 728th Airlift Squadron, McChord Air Force Base, Wash., during 2005.During this period, Yin was selected to represent equal opportunity and diversity in the armed forces during the League of United Latin American Citizens national conference.
  • Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth Trawick was cited for playing a major role in implementing the zero tolerance policy towards eliminating discrimination and barriers that hinder equal opportunity. At the time, Trawick was the test measurement and diagnostic equipment flight superintendent at 18th Component Maintenance Squadron, 18th Maintenance Group, 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan.
  • Marine Lance Cpl. Ellis I. Lee, an attorney in civilian life, distinguished himself by meritorious service while serving as an ammunition technician, Second Platoon, Detachment 1, Ammunition Company, Rome, Ga. "Lee's community service and pro bono legal work goes above and beyond what is normally expected of a Marine in his grade," the citation states. "He's involved in numerous community activities, including tutoring several students from local high and middle schools with their English and writing skills."
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