22nd Air Force Airmen forge proud heritage

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris
  • 22nd Air Force Reserve commander

The month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and provides us with an opportunity to pay tribute to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their positive contributions to our country and communities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up 5.6 percent of the nation’s population. Currently, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up 4.5 percent of the Air Force.


Generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders helped to defend this country, and to make America what it is today. Within the Department of Defense a total of 33 Asian American and Pacific Islanders have received the Medal of Honor for their actions during war and in peacetime. Maggie Gee and Hazel Ying Lee were the first two Chinese Americans in the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP). Members of the WASP program were the first brave women to fly American military aircraft, forever changing the role of women in aviation. Their dedicated service and record of excellence served as a gateway for future Airmen.


Our Air Force history is filled with bold Airmen who challenged the status quo and dared to step forward and take on the most daring missions. Col. Ellison Onizuka was an Air Force aerospace engineer and America’s first Asian-American in space when he flew as a mission specialist on the Discovery. Onizuka died in the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger, when it exploded one minute and13 seconds after launch on Jan. 28, 1986.


Throughout 22nd AF, our people are our greatest assets. We are wingmen, leaders and warriors with heritages and skills as diverse as our nation. In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I’m proud to highlight two 22nd Air Force Airmen who are forging a proud legacy that reflects the spirit of our Nation—a country that values the contributions of everyone who calls America home.


Helen Carson

Helen Carson is a Management Support Specialist for the 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson AFB, Colorado. She was born in Rota, Spain and raised on Guam, a U.S. territory.  She’s been actively involved in Asian Pacific American Heritage issues for many years, serving on committee boards for Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC), Eglin AFB; Asian/Pacific American Committee, Hurlburt AFB; FAPAC Hawaii Region, and currently holds membership with FAPAC, Washington D.C. 

Some of Carson’s most memorable moments are stories told by her grandmother about how her family survived on occupied Guam during WW II. Her goal is to publish a children’s book on the fables of Guam and the basics of the “Chamorro” language so that future generations would carry on the customs and dialect of Guamanians. She has served as a Federal Civil Service employee for 18 years with assignments in Hawaii and Florida.




TSgt BurchTech. Sgt. Badin J. Burch is assigned to the 403rd Force Support Squadron, Keesler AFB, Mississippi. As NCOIC of Installation Personnel Readiness, he oversees personnel actions associated with the 403rd Wing's deployment and redeployment activities. Burch was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but moved to the Gulf Coast area when he was five years old.  His father is a native of Vietnam. His mother is a native of Thailand and has always encouraged him to be proud of his Asian American heritage.  He holds an Associate Degree in Applied Science in Human Resource Management from the Community College of the Air Force and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi.  He is passionate about fitness and health, mentoring others and giving back to his community. He also enjoys travelling and exploring new places. During his almost seven years in the Air Force Reserve, Badin has deployed once to Moron, Spain.