Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month – Mara Huling Langevin, U.S. Coast Guard

Mara Huling Langevin made history as the first Asian American female — as well as the first female of any minority — to become a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) aviator. “I never thought about being the first of anything,” she said in a 2021 interview with the USCG’s news service MyCG. “All I wanted to do was to be a pilot and fly.”

Langevin, who is of both Japanese and Cherokee ancestry, was born in the world-famous Los Angeles neighborhood of Hollywood on August 20, 1969. The youngest of five children, Langevin applied to all of the U.S. service academies because she saw those institutions as her best opportunity for both obtaining a college education and learning how to fly. Ultimately, she decided to go to the USCG Academy (USCGA) in New London, Connecticut. “I chose the USCGA because of the mission,” she later recalled. “I also had the fortune to visit USCG Air Station Los Angeles and was impressed by how approachable and friendly the pilots were. They were nothing like the stereotypical pilots I watched in the movie Top Gun as a teenager.”

Langevin graduated from USCGA in 1991, and her first tour of duty involved serving as a deck watch officer on the USCG medium endurance cutter USCGC Resolute (WMEC-620). In a pivotal step towards finally realizing one of her longtime goals, she was selected for flight school in 1993. Langevin earned her wings of gold on April 21, 1995, and she was subsequently assigned to USCG Air Station Barbers Point on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. During her time there, she carried out search-and-rescue missions as a pilot of HH-65A Dolphin helicopters. Langevin eventually qualified as an instructor pilot and taught at the USCG Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama.  

In the time since her retirement from the USCG, Langevin has worked in several other service-oriented capacities. She is now a humanitarian assistance advisor to the military with the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) of the U.S. Agency for International Development. (BHA is the lead federal coordinator for U.S. government assistance to foreign countries significantly impacted by natural disasters or other large-scale emergencies.)

“I didn’t know that I was the first AAPI [Asian American Pacific Islander] or minority woman Coast Guard flight student until about 2011, 10 years ago maybe, and by that time I was out of the Coast Guard,” Langevin noted in her 2021 interview with MyCG. “So, being the first really had no effect on me because I didn’t know, but being a minority always affected me. There was always self-imposed, extra pressure to prove myself. I wanted to show I was just as capable and motivated as any of the other flight students.”

In that same interview, Langevin provided advice to those in the AAPI community who are following or will follow in her footsteps at the USCG. “Be proud of the work you are doing in the Coast Guard,” she said. “AAPI, be yourself, and don’t feel like you have to act or carry yourself like others around you to fit in.”

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

For more information on Mara Huling Langevin, please check out

Additional information on Langevin and other AAPI pioneers in the USCG is available at

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