Washington, DC – Mentioning astronaut Kalpana Chawla, the first American woman of Indian descent to fly in space, US President Donald J. Trump on Monday evening (May 1) proclaimed May as the Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage month.
“Indian American Kalpana Chawla was the first woman of Indian descent to fly in space, and became an American hero for her devotion to the Space Shuttle program and its various missions transporting cargo and crew to and from the International Space Station,” wrote Trump in his proclamation.
Highlighting her awards, the president continued, “For her achievements, the Congress posthumously awarded her the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) posthumously awarded her the NASA Space Flight Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.”
“Ms. Chawla’s courage and passion continue to serve as an inspiration for millions of American girls who dream of one day becoming astronauts,” President Trump concluded.
According to the NASA records, Chawla was born in Karnal, India. She held a Certificated Flight Instructor’s license with airplane and glider ratings, Commercial Pilot’s licenses for single- and multi-engine land and seaplanes, and Gliders, and instrument rating for airplanes. She enjoyed flying aerobatics and tail-wheel airplanes. Chawla also enjoyed flying, hiking, back-packing, and reading. She died on February 1, 2003 over the southern United States when Space Shuttle Columbia and the crew perished during entry, 16 minutes prior to scheduled landing. She is survived by her husband.
Moreover, noting the contributions of Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent to the development of the US, President Trump stated, “During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we recognize their tremendous contributions, which have helped strengthen our communities, industries, Armed Forces, national security, and institutions of governance. Through their industriousness and love of country, our Nation has enjoyed the privileges and enrichments of multiple innovations and societal advancements.”
Another woman of Korean descent, Susan Ahn Cuddy, the daughter of the first Korean couple to immigrate to the United States, also uplifted the Nation through strong work ethic, an unwavering love of country, and a steadfast devotion to her life mission, even in the face of great adversity, added the president.
In his statement, President Trump urged his fellow Americans to “learn more about those of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander heritage, and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.”