HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Drums banged to a loud beat as service men, women and their families ate, danced and celebrated Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The celebration has been going on at the base for over two decades and this year’s culminating event — an afternoon luau — did not disappoint.
This year the event was organized by Kevin Moore, an independent duty medical technician on base.
“I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time,” Moore said of organizing the event. Through the Air Force he has traveled all over the world, but has always had a special fondness for Asian and island countries in the Pacific. He has visited nearly all the countries in the area and loves their culture.
“I love their food and their languages,” Moore said, admitting that he has tried to learn and speak many of the languages. He talked about how many of the Asian countries had lost people in earlier wars and also how Americans had been lost in those wars as well and his involvement with helping to bring those people home to America. He appreciates the kindness he was always given in those endeavors, he said.
This year, along with native food, native dances were done and a special performance by the Japanese Church of Christ and their taiko drums was performed.
Moore said other events have gone on over the last month on base, but it has been a struggle because of weather, so the Thursday event was perfect because the weather was great. The Air Force wants to serve its Asian people and the tie in to Memorial Day weekend was also nice for the celebration, Moore said. Air Force Col. Thad Hill also helps put the month of activities together and said the luau had been a wonderful event. “It’s important to recognize the diversity in our Air Force and thank them for their service,” Moore said of the event.
Moore figures about 2 percent of enlisted service people at Hill AFB are of Asian descent.
As the drums blared and people finished up their plates full of food, many were glad they came and brought their families as well. Ben and Jessica Rios came to the luau last year and didn’t want to miss it this year. “We really enjoy the music and the dancing,” Ben Rios said as he and his wife moved to the beat of the drum.
Jill Ochoa heard about the event from a friend of hers at work. She is currently working with the medical group at Hill. “I came for the food,” she said with a smile as she pulled some meat off a shiskebob. “It’s been awesome. The food was delicious and so were the dancers.”