Integrity: Fulfilling a Life of Honorable Service

A #FilipinoAmerican story as told by Major General Tony Taguba. Read his full story below:"In the 34 years that I served in the US Army, I am proud to say that I have done so honorably. In the beginning, I was attracted to the military’s manner of organization, discipline, and structure. Little did I know that I would be one of the very few Asian Americans wearing a uniform. I was not prepared for the racist remarks. Behind my back—this was at the height of the Vietnam War—I was called gook, slope, slant eye, and other names meant to insult the Vietnamese. It was a time when many were uncomfortable dealing with non-white people like me. Despite all these, I fought it through, working through my assignments and performing my duty. I entered as an armory officer because tanks fascinated me. I remember being in a tank company and maneuvering in Europe, trying not harm the landscape or run into the homes. It was a glorious time even if we had to control our behavior. When I was promoted, ahead of my peers, to become a colonel, 3500 people came under my command. Me, the short, skinny kid who had no friends. During the investigation about the abuses in Abu Ghraib, I felt that there was a need for accountability and responsibility for the things that we do to protect our country. Ten years after the event, in 2014, the McCain-Feinstein anti-torture amendment was passed that prohibits any inhumane treatment of prisoners by the military and government operatives. I think about how we can help other Filipino Americans rise in the ranks, in the military, and even in public service at large. By the time I retired, I had become the second Philippine-born American to be promoted to general officer rank in the US Army. I come from a family that has given service to the United States for many decades. My father began our family’s multi-generational tradition, and my son has also seen this as his path. My dad endured the Bataan Death March during World War II as one of the many Filipinos who fought side-by-side the US military. After the war, he enlisted in the US Army and became an American citizen. Others were not so lucky; the post-war government rescinded on its promises to reward the Filipino fighters. They are still fighting for these benefits. I am part of a small group that has made it our responsibility to help the situation, and I’m glad that, finally, our Congress will be honoring these vets by presenting a Congressional Gold Medal in honor of their service and sacrifice during the war. As a military man, I only wish that we can take care of all the men who have given their lives to protect our country and to preserve the freedom for the next generations by taking care of their needs and their dignity as well." About: Filipino American Disruptors is a month-long storytelling initiative powered by NextDayBetter x AARP AAPI Community celebrating the stories of Filipino Americans in a range of disciplines, from community activism to tech entrepreneurship. These forward-thinking individuals are trendsetters, trailblazers, and problem-solvers in their respective fields, helping to push America and the Filipino American community forward through their leadership, creativity, and innovation.NextDayBetter Storyteller: Candice Quimpo

Posted by AARP AAPI Community on Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Integrity: Fulfiling a Life of Honorable Service

A Filipino American Veteran story as told by Major General Tony Taguba.

“In the 34 years that I served in the US Army, I am proud to say that I have done so honorably. In the beginning, I was attracted to the military’s manner of organization, discipline, and structure. Little did I know that I would be one of the very few Asian Americans wearing a uniform. I was not prepared for the racist remarks. Behind my back—this was at the height of the Vietnam War—I was called gook, slope, slant eye, and other names meant to insult the North Vietnamese. It was a time when many were uncomfortable dealing with non-white people like me.

Despite all these, I fought it through, working through my assignments and performing my duty. I entered as an armory officer because tanks fascinated me. I remember being in a tank company and maneuvering in Europe, trying not harm the landscape or run into the homes. It was a glorious time even if we had to control our behavior. When I was promoted, ahead of my peers, to become a colonel, 3500 people came under my command. Me, the short, skinny kid who had no friends.

During the investigation about the abuses in Abu Ghraib, I felt that there was a need for accountability and responsibility for the things that we do to protect our country. Ten years after the event, in 2014, the McCain-Feinstein anti-torture amendment was passed that prohibits any inhumane treatment of prisoners by the military and government operatives.

I think about how we can help other Filipino Americans rise in the ranks, in the military, and even in public service at large. By the time I retired, I had become the second Philippine-born American to be promoted to general officer rank in the US Army. I come from a family that has given service to the United States for many decades. My father began our family’s multi-generational tradition, and my son has also seen this as his path. My dad endured the Bataan Death March during World War II as one of the many Filipinos who fought side-by-side with the US military. After the war, he enlisted in the US Army and became an American citizen. Others were not so lucky; the post-war government rescinded on its promises to reward the Filipino fighters. They are still fighting for these benefits.

I am part of a small group that has made it our responsibility to help the situation, and I’m glad that, finally, our Congress will be honoring these vets by presenting a Congressional Gold Medal in honor of their service and sacrifice during the war. As a military man, I only wish that we can take care of all the men who have given their lives to protect our country and to preserve the freedom for the next generations by taking care of their needs and their dignity as well.”

About:
Filipino American Disruptors is a month-long storytelling initiative powered by NextDayBetter x AARP AAPI Communityommunity celebrating the stories of Filipino Americans in a range of disciplines from community activism to tech entrepreneurship. These forward-thinking individuals are trendsetters, trailblazers, and problem-solvers in their respective fields, helping to push America and the Filipino American community forward through their leadership, creativity, and innovation.

NextDayBetter Storyteller: Candice Quimpo