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Rear Admiral Colin G. Chinn

Navy Leaders

by Defense Media Activity
25 May 2016 Join us as we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Sailors, past and present, and their important contributions to the defense of our nation. Rear Admiral Colin G. Chinn, Medical Corps, U.S. Navy, Command Surgeon, U.S. Pacific Command.

I appreciate the legacy of previous generations in overcoming challenges, which has made it easier for my generation and future generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to succeed in any endeavor.

Q: Why did you decide to join the Navy?

A:My family has a heritage of military service, within the Department of the Navy. My step-father was a Marine veteran of World War II and Korea, fighting in the battle for Tarawa, among other places. My older brother also served as a Marine officer, following graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1975. I wanted to be a doctor, and so I attended Johns Hopkins University, then took a scholarship to attend medical school through the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP). There was never a doubt that upon graduation, the service I wanted to join as a doctor was the United States Navy.

Q: Who are the role models or mentors that have influenced you, or helped guide you?

A:Two now retired Admirals come to mind. The first, Rear Admiral Christine Hunter, who commanded Naval Medical Center San Diego, had a significant impact on the direction my career took. She continued her valued mentorship of me as an Admiral, and I credit her guiding influence and leadership in how I approach my work as a flag officer.

The second, Rear Admiral Mike Mittelman, who commanded Naval Hospital Okinawa, taught me the importance of servant leadership, impacting how I approached my mentorship of personnel under my command.
VIRIN: 160504-N-OQ305-001

Q: Which past assignments are the most memorable to you, and why?

A:I have had the privilege of serving in several extraordinary assignments, with amazing dedicated professionals at every turn. Three assignments particularly stand out, however.

The first would be my assignment as a young Lieutenant as Battalion Surgeon for the 3rd Marine Reconnaissance Battalion in Okinawa, Japan. It was one of three tours with the U.S. Marines that furthered my appreciation of and focus on operational medicine throughout my career. Coming from a family of Marines, I felt right at home taking a military medicine assignment with the Marine Corps.

The second was my command of Naval Hospital Oak Harbor, Washington. There are not a lot of command tours in Navy Medicine, so I viewed command ashore as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, with a chance to have a positive influence on the lives and careers of the men and women who staffed the hospital, and the patients who sought us out for treatment.

The third is my present assignment as U.S. Pacific Command Surgeon. This has been the most rewarding, fascinating assignment of my career. I have had the opportunity to develop our relations with 20 nations' military surgeons general, as well as the health teams at our State Department facilities throughout the PACOM area of responsibility. This experience has furthered my interest in global health initiatives, as we have worked to build partner and Allied nation medical and dental capacities, and to further interagency coordination and work arm in arm with non-governmental organizations operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. And PACOM's global health opportunities are truly helping to recruit the next generation of military medical professionals. I've talked with college students about what we are doing in military medicine in the PACOM area of responsibility, and the response I often receive is "How can we join?"

Q: May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. What does being an Asian American Pacific Islander leader in the Navy mean to you? Is there someone from this community that has influenced you, or who has a story that is interesting to you?

A:I guess the most direct answer is that for me personally, being an Asian American has never held me back. I grew up in San Francisco, and I didn't experience the kind of prejudices and hurdles that my parents' and grandparents' generations were challenged with. I don't think there is a glass ceiling based on race, or gender for that matter, in the military. We have seen that the U.S. military frequently leads the country in embracing equal opportunity. Promotion is merit-based, pay is equal regardless of gender, and we have recently seen changes in policy to make more combat roles open to women. I appreciate the legacy of previous generations in overcoming those challenges, which has made it easier for my generation and future generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to succeed in any endeavor.