Retired Col. Yeong Tae “YT” Pak and retired Capt. Jason Pak are like most other co-workers at Boeing — they arrive to and leave from work separately, have days filled with meetings, and may run into each other unplanned in the cafeteria or the elevator. The difference is, they are father and son.
“We’re more likely to see each other on the weekends than during work,” Jason explained. “We have offices on opposite sides of the building, and my dad travels quite a bit with his role.”
YT began his career at Boeing about eight years ago after a 30-year career in the U.S Army, most recently as the chief of staff for the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii. He also spent time as a senior U.S. defense official in Malaysia and operations chief at the Pentagon, among many other notable career assignments. His numerous international military assignments have enabled him to acquire a diverse international perspective, speaking multiple languages, including Korean and Japanese. “My background translated well with a world-class company like Boeing because of my diverse background and international experience,” YT said.
The move to Boeing in the Washington, D.C., area also worked well on a personal level. Jason had recently suffered critical injuries from an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan and was being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
“When you go through adversity, you become stronger,” YT said. “Less than 1 percent of the American population serves, so you have to think about that and be thankful. We are very fortunate of the opportunities that our respective military careers have provided our family and understand that we are one military family among many.”
After a year and a half of treatments and therapies, Jason went to work for Sen. Jack Reed as an assistant legislative fellow, aiding in understanding defense policies and requirements. Two years after his father, Jason also found a natural transition to Boeing, working as part of Government Operations before joining the Boeing Global Engagement (BGE) team.
“Leading the military veteran outreach and engagement effort for Boeing is a distinct honor and privilege,” Jason said. “BGE goes well beyond a typical philanthropic function. The impact of our work is felt across the enterprise, from those tied to the business like my father to diversity and inclusion — we want to ensure that internally and externally Boeing is present and partnered with the right organizations in the communities where our employees live and work.”
YT emigrated from Korea when he was 10 years old. He recalls his parents sacrificing all they had in Korea just to give his family a better life.
“We were the only Asians in Highland Falls, New York,” YT said. “It was a big change, but knowing my parents’ sacrifice, we all worked hard and valued diligence and never gave up. We faced some discrimination, but so many people were supportive and helped us. In the end, empathy, humility and mutual respect prevailed.”
When YT attended West Point, he was one of four Korean Americans at the school. When Jason attended, he was one of approximately 50.
“We are a minority, but I don’t dwell on it,” YT said. “You are going to look different, but if you do as well as others or better, it is harder for people to discriminate. Each diverse community has something to contribute, and that’s what America is all about! We are so proud and grateful to be American!”