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NEWS | June 14, 2024

Dishing ‘unity and inclusion’: D.C. Air National Guard flight attendant reflects on Pride

By Master Sgt. Arthur M. Wright | D.C. National Guard

An important step making the most out of the nation’s capital is immersing oneself into what it has to offer. For Tech. Sgt. Lang Xiao that means visits to the trendiest restaurants and recreating their signature dishes at home and work.

“I love going to restaurants for their fine dining options and I’ll replicate and fine-tune their recipes at home, and hopefully be able to share it as a meal option for our passengers at work,” Tech. Sgt. Xiao said. “I’ve enjoyed cooking since I was in my early 20’s. Replicating dishes is an art, hobby, and passion.”

In fact, as a flight attendant for the 113th Wing, District of Columbia Air National Guard, Tech. Sgt. Xiao gets to execute his passion while serving in uniform. That entails crafting five course meals on Congressional transports for members of the Executive Branch, Congress, Department of Defense, and high-ranking U.S. foreign dignitaries.

“My first flight was providing service for the First Lady and her staff,” Tech. Sgt. Xiao said. “Preparing food isn’t like cooking at home. We’re preparing meals for high-ranking people who have different tastes, dietary restrictions, allergies, and we ensure they’re transported safely and comfortably.”

The former communication designer embraces the challenge each new mission brings. Being a D.C. Air National Guard flight attendant requires survival school training, aircrew basic and career field courses, and a strong desire for international travel.

“We’re basically paid to see the world,” said Tech. Sgt. Sarah Izor, flight attendant, D.C. Air National Guard. “I’ve interacted with all heads of state in this role, and you’re constantly meeting new people.”

“We go wherever our mission takes us—Portugal, France, Japan, we fly wherever we’re assigned,” Tech. Sgt. Xiao added.

When he isn’t flying, Tech. Sgt. Xiao has found other jobs to tackle—fostering unity, inclusivity, and a more just society.

“The LGBTQ+ community is more diverse than what people see in media or what corporations promote,” he said. “There’s a lot of us serving in the military who don’t fit into the projected boxes.”

Tech. Sgt. Xiao also believes while there’s been significant cultural and legislative progress since the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, there’s a need for more unity within the LGBTQ+ community itself. He credits the D.C. National Guard for promoting diversity, fostering a culture of respect and community, and embracing every opportunity to modernize our formations.

“This is a month to highlight and celebrate those who sacrificed their lives and time to get LGBTQ+ protections and policies that prevent discrimination based on someone’s expression, gender identity or sexual orientation. Still, change is constant and there’s much more work to be done,” Tech. Sgt. Xiao said. “Some in the LGBTQ+ community remain overlooked and marginalized—our rainbow represents many colors, shapes, and sizes, yet there’s categorical divides. I’d like to see more unity and inclusion.”

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