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Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month: Nguyen discovers Polynesian roots

Master Sgt. Christopher Nguyen said the Asian-Pacific American Heritage Committee has helped him learn more about his Vietnamese and Polynesian heritage. Nguyen is a member of the 72nd Security Forces Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kelly White)

Master Sgt. Christopher Nguyen said the Asian-Pacific American Heritage Committee has helped him learn more about his Vietnamese and Polynesian heritage. Nguyen is a member of the 72nd Security Forces Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kelly White)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Christopher Nguyen has always known he was of Vietnamese descent. Just recently, he found out he was also part Polynesian.

Nguyen, an on-duty supervisor for the 72nd Security Forces Squadron, arrived at Tinker Air Force Base in August. Shortly after, he discovered Tinker’s Asian-Pacific American Heritage Committee, a group that opened his eyes to a new set of cultures and ideologies, including some that were his own.

“All I knew growing up was about being an American,” he said. “It has been an eye-opening experience being involved with APAH. I’ve really enjoyed it.”

With the process of transitioning into a new role within the 72nd Security Forces Squadron coming to an end, Nguyen says he’s looking forward to being more involved in the organization moving forward.

Nguyen spent the early part of his life in Orange County, California, but he and his family moved to Oklahoma City before he started his sophomore year of high school. Nguyen graduated from Putnam City North High School in 2000.

Not even a year later, Nguyen enlisted in the Air Force in Feb. 2001. He completed basic training and security forces technical school in San Antonio, Texas.

His first duty station was at Osan Air Base in South Korea. This would be the beginning of a multi-year stay overseas, including tours in Japan, Belgium, England and Greenland.

“It was a culture shock coming back to the U.S., because I had been overseas for so long,” Nguyen said. The lifestyle in Europe is very slow paced and coming back to the U.S., where it’s very fast paced was different.”