Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — Josephine Tauoa, U.S. Navy

In 2020, Josephine Tauoa made U.S. Navy history as the first female American Samoan to be promoted to command master chief petty officer. (An unincorporated territory of the United States, American Samoa is southeast of the independent state of Samoa in the South Pacific Ocean.) As command master chief petty officer (CMC), Tauoa serves as the senior enlisted advisor within a Navy unit and acts as a liaison between that Navy’s commanding officer and the enlisted ranks. Her duties in this regard involve helping to maintain a high quality of morale, discipline, and training among the sailors.

Tauoa joined the Navy in the late 1990s, and becoming a CMC was a goal that she long aspired to achieve. She first served in this role on board USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93), and it was an assignment that very much resonated with her because of the trailblazing status of the vessel’s namesake. The Honolulu-born Rear Admiral Gordon Pai’ea Chung-Hoon (1910-1979) was the first Asian American/Pacific Islander graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy to also be a U.S. citizen.

During a 2020 interview, Tauoa talked about her assignment to USS Chung-Hoon and what it meant to her. “After I read up on the history of Chung-Hoon and saw that he was a Pacific Islander, I always wanted to get stationed aboard,” Tauoa explained. “When I was selected for CMC, there were two ships available; Chung-Hoon and Wayne E. Meyer. I called the detailer and he said the Chung-Hoon was getting ready to deploy and Wayne E. Meyer was going in the yards. I said ‘that’s fine, I’ll take the Chung-Hoon because it’s always been a dream of mine.”

Tauoa also noted in that interview, “It’s an accomplishment that I’m proud of, but I have to be able to use it to help someone else. It’s never truly about me. It’s more a big deal for me to be in this position to help sailors.”

For more information on Josephine Tauoa, please check out https://www.dvidshub.net/news/380905/more-than-honor

Additional information on Asian American and Pacific Islander pioneers in the U.S. Navy is available at https://www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/diversity/asian-americans-pacific-islanders-in-the-navy.html

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