NAVAIR

NAVAIR celebrates AAPI Heritage Month at Point Mugu

Dancers performing a traditional Lion Dance enter the audience during Naval Air Systems Command’s annual Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month event, jointly hosted by Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division and Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Det. Point Mugu on May 17 in Point Mugu, California. (U.S. Navy photo)

Dancers performing a traditional Lion Dance enter the audience during Naval Air Systems Command’s annual Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month event, jointly hosted by Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division and Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Det. Point Mugu on May 17 in Point Mugu, California. (U.S. Navy photo)

May 18, 2017

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Dancers perform a traditional Lion Dance during Naval Air Systems Command’s annual Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month event, jointly hosted by Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division and Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Det. Point Mugu on May 17 in Point Mugu, California. (U.S. Navy photo)

Dancers perform a traditional Lion Dance during Naval Air Systems Command’s annual Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month event, jointly hoste ...

NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER WEAPONS DIVISION, POINT MUGU, California - More than 200 Sailors, Marines and civilian employees celebrated Asian American Pacific Island Heritage Month with an event jointly hosted by Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division and Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Det. Point Mugu on May 17 in Point Mugu, California.

The event, which featured keynote Rear Adm. Victorino "Vic" Mercado, the first line officer of Filipino descent to be selected to the two-star rank, was broadcast via VTC from FRCSW Det. Point Mugu’s facilities to Naval Air Systems Command sites across the country.

“Because we have such a diverse workforce, it’s really important for us to have some understanding of the cultural context and historical background our teammates bring to the table,” said Tom Dowd, NAVAIR Ranges director and one of NAVAIR’s AAPI champions. “Heritage month and other diversity events give us a great opportunity to do just that.”

Exposing military and civilian Sailors and Marines to diverse avenues of thought and context is critical for military effectiveness, Mercado said.

“You really want to tap into all facets of society. You never want everyone on your team to be the same; you never want to be uniform. It gets to be groupthink. Diversity helps us grow and learn together.”

In addition to keynote remarks and an opportunity to partake in an Asian cuisine meal, attendees were treated to a performance by the Camarillo Kung Fu and Lion Dance, Northern Shaolin Mi Zong Lo Han Kung Fu Association. The dance, performed to the sound of drums and clanging cymbals, saw dancers jumping, twisting and moving through the crowd, including jumping up onto the platform with the guest speakers

“Personally, these aspects of the AAPI culture were not something I was familiar with growing up,” Dowd said. “In my 18 months co-championing the AAPI Diversity Advisory Team … I’ve learned a lot.”

Having someone championing a diversity team who is not a member of the heritage group is not uncommon, Dowd noted, and could be seen as a benefit.

“Even in our diversity teams, we want to bring together people with different backgrounds and ideas; that's what diversity is all about,” he said.

For Mercado, it’s even simpler.

“People are our most important asset,” he said, “and if you believe that, then you have to value everything about people: their heritage, their history, and what they’re all about.”

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<p>China Lake, in California’s Mojave Desert, is home to NAVAIR’s Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD). Few areas in the world offer such wide variety of geographical features in close proximity...mountains, deserts, canyons, caves and forests. The unencroached air and land ranges at China Lake provide unmatched geographic conditions in which to develop and test weapon systems and explore tactics for desert and mountain environments.</p>

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Sailors from Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Det. Point Mugu serve up Asian dishes during Naval Air Systems Command’s annual Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month event, jointly hosted by FRCSW Det. Point Mugu and Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division on May 17 in Point Mugu, California. (U.S. Navy photo)

Sailors from Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Det. Point Mugu serve up Asian dishes during Naval Air Systems Command’s annual Asian American Pacific I ...

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