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Proud to represent diversity of the U.S. while deployed

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Yucheng Liu
  • 375th Civil Engineer Squadron
I was born in Taejon, South Korea to a father of Chinese descent and a mother of Chinese and Korean descent. My grandparents on my father's side moved to South Korea from China when they were young and opened a restaurant, starting the tradition of my family being in the restaurant business. My father is a chef and my mother owns a restaurant in Texas with my step-father.

My mother's sister, who had already settled in Atlanta, Ga., helped us move to America when I was only five years old. Moving to America at a young age made it easier for me to make the transition, and while English was not my first language it was a very close second. I have met people who immigrated here when they were in their teens or older, and I can imagine the difficulties they had learning a new language and assimilating into a new culture.

I only lived in Georgia for a few years before moving to Los Angeles, which has a very diverse population, and is one of the things I love about America. There is no other country as diverse as ours, where people from around the world live together and call each other neighbors.

During my deployment last year, I felt proud being a member of the United States military as an Asian-American, and being an example of the diversity of our country to the host nation personnel and third-country nationals I saw every day.

After living in California for nine years I moved to Killeen, Texas, where Fort Hood is located. This was my first exposure to the military, and when I started imagining myself wearing a uniform and thinking about doing something that would make my family proud.

After I graduated high school, joining the military was in my mind, but attending college interested me more at the time. I attended a community college first while working full-time, and then I transferred to a four-year college. During this time I became a naturalized United States citizen. It was a proud moment for me to become a citizen of the country where I called home.

When I made the transition to the university majoring in accounting seemed like a good choice because of the potential of making a high salary, but I really did not have an interest in the subject matter. After realizing I was doing something I did not want to do, I made the decision to join the Air Force.

I wanted to work with my hands and have experiences I would never have as a civilian. I have been in the Air Force a little more than two years and do not regret making the decision to join.

Experiences like flying in a C-130, watching U-2s take off, and travelling across the world have made the last two years worthwhile. I know there will be a day I will not wear the uniform anymore, but I am glad to be able to say that I am a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.