AAPI Heritage Month Spotlight: Master Sgt. Samuel Han

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sarah Williams
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

This month’s observance is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The 17th Training Wing recognizes this culture and diversity as it makes the force stronger. Each week in May, the 17th TRW will highlight service members of different backgrounds and experiences, this week we are highlighting Master Sgt. Samuel Han, 316th Training Squadron flight chief.

  1. What is your job?

I serve as the flight chief for the cryptologic language analyst (linguists) flight in the 316th Training Squadron and also an instructor for the consolidated (joint-service) Korean apprentice cryptologic language analyst course.


  1. Tell us about your Asian or Pacific Islander Heritage.

I am a second generation Korean American. Both of my parents (Mom & Dad) are South Korean immigrants from Seoul, Republic of Korea and came over to the United States in the 1970s for the American Dream. I was born in Chicago, Illinois, but moved to Los Angeles, California, when I was 3 years old.


  1. What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?

The AAPI Heritage Month pays tribute to all the generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history with customs and traditions. By honoring those before us, we are able to have a voice and express our ideas for awareness and the success of our future.


  1. What’s one aspect of your heritage that you feel very strongly about? 

Family and food! These two go hand in hand in the Korean culture. Our heritage is built on the foundation of trust, respect, support, and love. The Korean pride does not judge and regardless of family lineage, we are all considered family to one another and we celebrate our bond through food. I remember one time at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, I met a Korean American Soldier that I looked up to like an older brother, or “hyung” in Korean. I brought him to visit my mom in LA and when we arrived late at night, she gave him a hug and embraced him like a son, or “adeul,” and fed us dinner, which included 10 side dishes, a stew, and Korean BBQ.


  1. What Asian or Pacific Islander public figure, past or present, inspires you and why?

The person that immediately comes to mind is my mentor since June 10, 2019, the 19th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Joanne S. Bass. She is also Korean American and my role model. From the beginning, she told me, “I need you to be better than me.” It was a huge task, but throughout the years I’ve learned so much from her. From being a humble leader, to becoming the best version of myself, she pushed me to grow through learning and supported me every step of the way. I am truly blessed to have such a special person in my life.