The Kauai native already is theBy Gregg K. Kakesako
highest-ranking Asian American
in U.S. military history
Gen. Eric "Ric" Shinseki, former Kauai resident and the first Asian American to wear four stars as a general, was nominated by President Clinton today to become chief of staff of the Army.
Shinseki, 56, will become the Army's 34th chief of staff June 21 once he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
His mother, Fudeko Shinseki, 88, said she was still in "a daze."
Mrs. Shinseki said she talked with her son a week ago, and he told her that "something might be coming up."
"But I haven't been able to get ahold of him or his wife, Patty, today," the Lihue native said.
University of Hawaii Senior Vice President Eugene Imai, who also is a reserve two-star general, said he has been "very impressed" with Shinseki's past performance.
"I think it's super that he got the appointment," said Imai, deputy commanding general for the National Guard, U.S. Army Pacific.
"Gen. Ric Shinseki is a great soldier and leader who brings tremendous experience to his position," said Army Secretary Louis Caldera.
Shinseki was chosen to become vice chief of staff of the Army Nov. 24. He will replace Gen. Dennis Reimer, who has served as the Army's No. 1 man since June 30, 1995. The normal tour of duty for a service chief is four years.
Shinseki received his fourth star in August 1997 when he became commanding general of all Army forces in Europe and was head of the stabilization force in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Before Shinseki, the highest-ranking Asian Americans had been Lt. Gen. Allen Ono, now executive vice president with American Savings Bank, and Vice Adm. Richard Kihune. Both wore three stars before retiring.
Shinseki was born in Lihue and graduated from Kauai High School in 1961 and West Point four years later. He received a master's degree from Duke University.
His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.