Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
By Carrie Rogers, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
FRANKFORT, Ky. – The month of May is dedicated to celebrating Americans of Asian and Pacific Island descent, and the contributions they’ve made to American history. To commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), we share the story of Gary Mercurio, a civilian employee with the Kentucky National Guard, currently serving as the Telecom Operations and Maintenance Technician for the G6 Communications Office.
Mercurio was born and raised
in the Philippines, a series of islands located in Southeast Asia. Though he
cherishes his Filipino heritage, he and his wife departed the islands in 2005
when she was recruited to work as a Registered Nurse (RN) for Saint Joseph’s
Hospital in Lexington, Ky. Their “American Journey” as Mercurio calls it, has
led to a fulfilling life, which includes United States Citizenship and now, a
civilian career at the Kentucky National Guard.
Q: Where are you from?
I was born, grew up, and
studied in the Philippines. The Philippines is located in Southeast Asia and
composed of 7,641 islands. The Philippines proudly boasts as the only Christian
nation in Asia and more than 86 percent of the population identifies as Roman
The Philippines was colonized
by Spain and later by the United States for half a century. The American
colonial period brought public education to the islands, as well as a system of
government and infrastructure development. At this time, English was identified
as the national language of instruction at school, together with the Filipino
dialect. The similarities between the systems implemented during the American
Colonial period and those of other western civilizations have eased the
transition for those migrating to the United States and other western
Q: Where do you live
Our American journey began
when my wife was recruited in the year 2000 in the Philippines to work in St.
Joseph Hospital, Lexington, Kentucky as a Registered Nurse. After completing
all of her paperwork - State Board Exam, the Test of English as a Foreign
Language (TOEFL) exam, etc., we were issued a Family-Based immigrant visa and
finally traveled to Lexington, Kentucky on January 15, 2005. We have lived in
Lexington since then, aspiring and fulfilling in our own little way, the
American Dream. I have two kids: one of them is a member of the "Pandemic
Covid-19 Class of 2020" and the other is a rising 5th grader in the
Fayette County Public Schools system. We took an oath and became United States
citizens on June 4, 2010 in front of Judge Karen K. Caldwell of the United
States District Court of Eastern Kentucky.
Q: What is your
background in Information Technology (IT)?
industry/IT background began after I finished my college degree in 1986. I have
worked with various leading telecommunication companies and have been assigned to
work in different countries. I have been fortunate to work and at the same time
travel for free and experience different cultures, food and meet new friends in
Q: How long have you
been with the Kentucky National Guard?
I have been with the Kentucky Army National Guard - Department of Military Affairs/G6 communications office as a civilian employee since July of 2016. I currently serve in the Operations Branch as a Telecom Operation and Maintenance Technician. Due to the sensitive nature of Background checks and security clearance are required when working in the Department of Defense (DoD) agencies/affiliates like the Kentucky Army National Guard. This is especially true in the G6. To avoid dual loyalty, especially in times of conflict, I have given up my Filipino dual citizenship.
Q: What made you
want to join the organization?
For me, it is a privilege and an honor to join the Kentucky National Guard. Knowing I can assist with the communication requirements of our service members, even in a civilian capacity, is a true honor. Our soldiers have given so much in time and sacrifices in protecting us all and the very least that I could give as a naturalized U.S. Citizen is to provide them with quality telecommunication tools in a timely fashion so that they can complete their work/mission.
Q: What do you get
out of serving?
There is great satisfaction in knowing that as a member of the G6 telecom team, I am making a difference in the work of our service members. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to make new friends and hear why they joined the Kentucky Guard and the adventures they have experienced along the way. So far I have visited almost all of Kentucky’s 69 armories and even ridden in a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. I am so grateful for the one-of-a-kind experiences I’ve had and truly believe being part of the Guard family is the best thing that has happened to me.