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NEWS | May 11, 2021

Soldier “blessed, honored and proud” to serve country as Pacific Islander

By Cheryl Phillips 88th Readiness Division

An Army Reserve Soldier assigned to the 88th Readiness Division continues his rich family legacy of service to the nation as an Asian American Pacific Islander.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Vicente Cepeda, the 88th RD’s deputy command chaplain, listed his family members who served before him: “My [paternal) grandfather served in the U.S. Navy. My mom’s father, who I never met because he died when I was 4 years old, served in the U.S. Navy.

“My mom’s two younger brothers also served in the U.S. Army. In fact, they both served in the Vietnam War. My dad served in the U.S. Army, and his two younger brother also served in the U.S. Army.”

The Ordon Chalan Pago, Guam, native joined the Army Reserve “to proudly follow the footsteps of my family members’ patriotism to serve our nation, and to fulfill my calling to serve my Lord as a U.S. Army Chaplain.”

Within the 88th RD, Cepeda executes personnel management for all chaplains and chaplain candidates assigned to 10 commands in 277 locations covering a geographical area of 19 states. He oversees the program budget, supervises an Active Guard Reserve Chaplain and three AGR Religious Support Specialists. He performs and provides religious support to the 88th RD headquarters, and serves as an adviser to the Command Chaplain and Commander on matters of religious oversight, moral and ethical issues and unit morale.

Cepeda has the total support of his family in his decision to join the Army Reserve. “It was a common thing for young Guamanians to join the military,” he said. “They were so proud of me, especially becoming an officer.”

These days there are many super heroes in the media, some positive. Cepeda sees himself as a role model for other young Asian American Pacific Islanders looking to possibly serve their country. “I believe we should all strive to be a role model for the next generation. Whatever ethnicity one belongs to, we should endeavor to work hard and to be the best example that we can be.”

Cepeda has been married to the former Audrey Coakley of Indianapolis for more than 31 years. “She’s been very supportive of my military career,” he said.

The couple has been “blessed to have four beautiful children: Benjamin, 28; Joseph, 24; David, 22; and Leah, 20,” Cepeda said.

Reflecting on his roughly 21 years of service as a part- and full-time Soldier in the Army Reserve, Cepeda said, “Overall, the military has been so good to me personally and my family. This has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve made in my life.

“I am beyond blessed, honored, and proud to be a Pacific Islander of Japanese heritage to represent my Lord and country.”