GROTON, Conn. >> Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE) celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month during an observance and special meal at Cross Hall Galley, May 18.

This year, SUBASE Diversity Committee partnered with Naval Branch Health Clinic (NBHC) Groton Diversity Committee, and the Kaiholunuie Polynesian Dance Company to perform a variety of Polynesian dances to include a Conch shell heralding opening ceremony; Poi Balls performance; a Malama Mau Hawaii Hula Dance; a Kaiulani Ori Manumere Dance; and to close the event a Haka War dance performed by a diverse group of active duty Navy and civilian employee volunteers.

Afterwards, Cross Hall Galley prepared and served an awesome array of Asian menus to include: Pho Soup, Mongolian BBQ, Asian BBQ Ribs, Roast Duck, Sushi Bar, Siao Pao, and Egg Rolls.

"SUBASE Diversity Committee is committed to fostering a learning environment for military and civilians to grow in their knowledge of the many different cultures throughout the world and especially in our military," said Chief Machinist’s Mate Colin Smith, chairman of SUBASE Diversity Committee. "Our main focus is developing partnerships and resources for members of SUBASE New London and the community to promote diversity as a strategic component in individual and organizational success."

Performers from the Kaiholunuie Polynesian Dance Company were thrilled to come aboard and share their heritage with members of Navy Team New London.

"Everyone has been warm and friendly which made the performance a lot more fun," said David Park, Kaiholunuie Polynesian Dance Company performer. "The Sailors did an amazing job with the Haka War dance. Drumming for them was an incredible experience, and I hope to do it again sometime."

"The culture is very important to us," said Hawaii native and hula performer Maggie Reames. "It’s not just about the grass skirts and big shows, it about the people and their heritage. We were happy to see the Haka performed very well and we are having so much fun with you guys out here today, performing and showing you our culture."

There are 24,743 Asian American and Pacific Islander Sailors currently serving in our Navy, including eight admirals, 659 master chief and senior chief petty officers and 318 officers. These Sailors represent more than 56 ethnic groups, speaking over 100 languages from Asia and the Pacific Islands, living in the United States.

"Taking part in a Haka War dance was fun and exciting," said Sonar Technician [Submarine] 1st Class Thomas Foster-DeOro, member of SUBASE Diversity Committee. "I’m blessed at the opportunities the Navy has given me, and I’m thankful to celebrate this month with my fellow Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and to share an aspect of my culture that gets misunderstood. To show what it is all about is amazing!"

Capt. Paul Whitescarver, SUBASE Commanding Officer spoke during the observance.

"Asian American and Pacific Islanders have been serving in the Navy since the early 19th century," said Whitescarver. "As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islanders in our Navy culture we recognize their struggles against adversity to achieve equality, their significant contributions to the American experience, and their success in building a foundation of excellence for all those who follow."

For more information about the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their numerous contributions to the Navy, visit www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/diversity/asian-americans-pacific-islanders-in-the-navy.html.