HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Base officials will host a virtual Storytellers event to recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month May 6 at 1 p.m.
The annual observance celebrates the cultures and service of those with Asian and Pacific Islander heritage throughout the United States.
2nd Lt. Rudra Patel, a first-generation American of Indian descent, said the weight of his family’s American dream gave him a sense of responsibility early in life.
“My family made so many sacrifices to come to the U.S. that there was always a pressure to succeed,” said Patel, whose grandfather came to the U.S. alone in the late 1980s and worked to save money for nearly 15 years before he could bring his family over to join him.
“I wanted them to know their sacrifice was worth it,” he said.
After he was accepted to the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2015 to study systems engineering, Patel said he was torn between cultural expectations and his own internal motivations.
“Military service is viewed very differently in India than it is here, and my family didn’t understand how a service academy was a viable career choice,” said Patel. “I just had to trust that I could make them proud.”
Patel, an Enterprise Applications Branch Emergency Mass Notification Systems program manager here, is scheduled to speak during the Hanscom Storyteller’s event.
For other members, military service is a family affair with cultural connections.
“The military is deeply rooted in our family,” said 2nd Lt. Mai-Lin Quinto, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Detachment 12 Weapons Systems Sustainment Branch deputy program manager. “My grandfather, father, two brothers, and cousins all served or are currently serving.”
Quinto is a second-generation Filipino American, and credits her grandfather’s enlistment in the U.S. Navy for her family’s ability to move to the U.S.
She and her father, U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Quinto, are both scheduled to speak during the virtual event.
“I’m looking forward to sharing my perspective as an Asian American woman in this country, in our military, and how all those experiences have impacted me throughout my life,” said Quinto, a 2019 Air Force Academy graduate.
The event is open to all Hanscom civilians, enlisted and officer members and their families.
Participants can access the event at www.zoomgov.com/j/16139607113, meeting ID: 161 3960 7113.
“This is a great opportunity to learn from someone of a different background than yourself,” said 2nd Lt. Anthony Orezzoli, organizer for the event. “It can only be beneficial to learn about our wingmen.”