AAPI Heritage Month Spotlight: Chief Master Sgt. Rebecca Arbona

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

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The 17th Training Wing recognizes this culture, its diversity, and how it makes the force stronger. Each week in May, the 17th TRW highlights service members of different backgrounds and experiences. This week we are highlighting Chief Master Sgt. Rebecca Arbona, 17th TRW command chief.

1.            What is your job?

I am the 17th TRW command chief. As the wing's senior enlisted leader, I am the principle advisor to the wing commander regarding all things relative to the wing. In addition, I am responsible for all enlisted matters.


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

My mother is from Manila, Philippines. She was a secretary at Clark Air Force Base and moved to the United States when my dad (U.S. Air Force retired) was reassigned to K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base, Michigan in 1970. A few years later, I was born at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.


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

I remember when AAPI month was made official. We had just moved back to the United States and my mother was so proud. My mother and I talked about how this month recognizes and celebrates diverse cultural contributions, and what the cultural melting pot of America truly is. This month equates to pride in my heritage. My mother still smiles about its recognition, and so do I. 


4.            What's one aspect of your heritage that you feel very strongly about? 

Every memory I have about family involves an abundance of food and laughter. Large or small gatherings, each family is proud to share their best dish and hopefully your favorite aunt's recipe for Mongoo (mung bean soup). Sharing food with others is an extension of one's heart and heritage. Besides, everything is better with food.


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

At this current time, I am most inspired by our sitting vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris. Not just due to her Asian descent, but her journey and what she represents for all Asian Americans, women, and our youth.