Commander Arthur Chi-Wing Fong was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy Reserve through the Direct Commissioning Officer program in 1997. He graduated from the Navy Supply Corps School Basic Qualification Course Navel Reserve (BQC-NR) Company 47th with the class Leadership Award in the year 2000.
CDR Fong has an MA in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College, an MBA in Finance, and a B.S. in Information Systems, both from California State University, Los Angeles. He is JPME Phase II qualified through the U.S. Army War College. He completed his JPME Phase I through the U.S. Air Force Staff and Command School. Making history in 2006, he was the first to represent the U.S. Navy Reserve to attend the Royal Australian Navy Staff Acquaint Course in Australian Command and Staff College. He is qualified both as a Naval Aviation Supply Officer and Naval Expeditionary Supply Office. CDR Fong has been awarded the Navy Commendation Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal. He is certified by the Defense Language Institute with top scores on both Chinese Mandarin and Chinese Cantonese in the Defense Language Proficiency Test. He wrote various academic papers in the US/China relationship and island disputes in the US Army War College.
In 2017, he was competitively selected and converted to a Foreign Area Officer (FAO). In 2009, CDR Fong was selected as the First and Second Family Military Assistant Coordinator during the first Obama Presential Inauguration, serving the president and vice-president families. CDR Fong served two years as the commanding officer in Naval Station Activity Bahrain DET G Las Vegas from 2010-2012.
CDR Fong has two daughters, Andrea and Tracy. CDR Fong completed eleven marathon races in his running career. In his civilian career, CDR Fong retired as a senior system analyst for the LAPD IT Division after 30 years of dedicated service. He is an active, licensed California real estate salesperson. He has served in the City of Monterey Park Planning Commission, Traffic Commission, and the Business Improvement & Development Commission. CDR Fong is the President of the Chinese-American Military Support, a non-profit organization that serves all armed forces members in his community. He was awarded the 2016 Veteran Service Award by California State Senate District 22nd and was selected as the 2011 Veteran of the Year in California Assembly 49th district. CDR Fong is also recognized by 27th Congressional District honorable Congresswoman Judy Chu for his dedication and contribution to the San Gabriel Valley California community.
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I landed in Los Angeles in 1981. I was a foreign exchange student and finished my high school. Then, I graduated from college here, and I joined the City of Los Angeles, where I recently retired from the LAPD as their IT guy. In 1997, I joined the Navy Reserve, and I’m still serving.
I’m a community advocate. I strongly believe in serving the country in uniform, and I’m telling a lot of immigrants, especially in the San Gabriel Valley. I’m a friend of two recruiters for the Army and the Navy. I work for them as a volunteer because I believe in service.
I am from Hong Kong. Well, it’s actually called British Hong Kong because a lot of Americans, a lot of sailors, and soldiers in the military were there. Even when I filled out my paperwork in the Navy, I had to push British Hong Kong because there’s a difference between British Hong Kong and Hong Kong, China, in terms of background checks.
Everybody went to Monterey Park because people weren’t making enough money. They left Chinatown and went to Monterey Park first, and then at that time, because of the Taiwan situation, a lot of Taiwanese immigrants settled in Monterey Park.
Many people didn’t even know that they nicknamed that town called Little Taipei.
That’s where I started in 1981.
Yes. Back then, they declared English as the only official language in the city.
I can understand when you have an influx of immigrants who don’t speak the language; it creates some uneasiness, and 40 years later, I can see what they were trying to do.
No, no, no. It’s a very complicated question. Going back to Monterey Park with the influx of Taiwanese immigrants, the original people were questioning why they didn’t speak the language. So, they thought it was better to pass the law that English was the official language.
They did many things like rejecting the library books in Chinese and a lot of Chinese stores.
Sometimes, you have to step back and think about all this conflict. Language and culture in America is a big melting pot if you are willing to step one back and include everybody. Going back to the military, it is the best organization in terms of including everybody. Once you put on the uniform, they only look at your rank and your performance. Nobody cares what color of skin where you come from.
People ask me if there is a discrimination problem in the military, and I tell them that I see more injustice in my civilian organization or in the street than when I’m in the uniform. That’s why, even though I’m almost 60, I refuse to step down. I continue to serve, and I find it so positive for anyone.
I volunteer a lot of my time in San Gabriel Valley, helping a lot of young recruits to be successful in the military. I mentor a lot of new immigrants. That’s why the Organization of Chinese American Military Support is a nonprofit organization.
The reason I did was because I was having a midlife crisis. It was one weekend a month, two weeks a year. So when you have a stressful, busy job in the city of Los Angeles inside a police department, and someone tells you you can put on the uniform and do something totally different in San Diego and away from home, you say, ‘Why not, man? Sign me up.’
But again, I’m a true example of a successful reservist career. You don’t just work one weekend a month, two weeks a year, to be promoted to Commander.
It’s a career. You take care of your civilian career, whatever that is, dentist, lawyer, broadcaster, nail service person. And then you have to maintain your military career 100% do career at the same time. It’s not a joke.
So, as a reservist, you have to be very dedicated and disciplined.
Again. Another good place I wanted to talk about in San Gabriel Valley is Cal State LA. I went there for college and my master’s degree. I picked Cal State LA because it’s so close to the Chinese restaurant I worked at.
When I would get off of school, I wouldn’t go to the beach or party. I would go to my job as a waiter at Jumbo Seafood Restaurant.
Yes, I’ve done three. I have been to Kuwait, UAE, and San Diego after 9/11. When I first joined the Navy in 97, I went to a Navy reserve center in North Island, San Diego, and a guy said I’d be lucky to be called up once to duty in my career. Guess what? I have three already.
In the military, there are two types of ranking structures: enlisted versus officer. Think about enlisted like technical technicians, guys who are very good at their job. Versus officers who are like a manager, you manage a battalion in the Army, you manage a ship in the Navy, you set direction policy for the enlisted guy to do so.
The bulk of work is done by enlisted, or in the Army, they call them NCOs, non-commissioned officers. So officers start 12356 Army, and Navy is slightly different. Five is Commander and is equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, Marine Corps, or the Air Force.
The next rank will be Captain, and I just got selected to be promoted to Captain in October.
I strongly recommend people to get involved. When I say get involved, I mean complain to your city government. Know, there’s a difference between a dictatorship and an authoritative government not too far away from the US, where you can’t complain. But in America, they encourage citizens to get involved and participate.
I remember when I finally bought my first home in Monterey Park. I was jogging in the morning, and I tripped because there was a concrete block in the sidewalk. So I said, ‘My God, man, I’m a young, handsome officer, and I can trip. Can you imagine the senior citizens walking around? So, I emailed the city manager, telling them they had to fix them. That started my first involvement in the civics of San Gabriel Valley.
One thing led to another, and the next thing is I’m very famous in Monterey Park for the shopping cart. I can’t stand the shopping carts all over the city. People treat it as a benefit to push a shopping cart back to the home, but usually, the shopping cart gets stuck in your driveway or your front lawn. I worked with a council member to fix the law, but it does take a while to fix all the problems.
Then the city manager said, ‘Why don’t I appoint you as the commissioner.’ So, the first commission I did was the beautification committee for Monterey Park. We go around the city to award people to have a nice landscape and front yard.
Then, I was on a planning commission, and I really loved the traffic commissioner job. However, I’d rather be a community advocate than an elected official.
I’m more efficient in rallying support and sharing my value of doing good things than trying to become one of them.
Since I started working for the military and the Navy, now I can stand up anytime, anywhere, to make a speech, and before, I couldn’t do that. So the military pushes people out of the cage, helps them talk to people from all over the country, all over the world, and you become more outspoken and learn to stand your ground.
Now, my motto is to serve countrywide and support your community. So, mainly concentrate on Chinese Americans because of the language barrier and the cultural differences.
Well, I’m a community advocate, so you can go to my nonprofit organization, Chinese American Military Support Facebook and you can ask questions. You can join us there, and I can talk to you more.
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