Asian American Soldier Who Dreamed of Flying, Struggled With Grades is Now a US Army Pilot

The U.S. Army launched an animated series earlier last month, featuring soldiers such as First Lieutenant David Toguchi, an Asian American pilot who turned his lifelong dream of flying into a reality.

“The Calling”  follows five young Americans as their different life experiences lead them to serve in the Army. The series aims to “help close the relatability gap between Gen Z and America’s largest military branch,” according to a press release from earlier last month. 

The Army also seeks to address misconceptions about soldiers by showing that they are “real people with hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations, families, friends and obstacles to overcome.” 

Toguchi was one of the five soldiers chosen from almost 100 candidates to star in the series. During an interview with NextShark, he said, Part of why I was so excited to participate in the Army’s newest recruiting campaign, ‘The Calling,’ was to tell my story and share with people that anything is possible with determination, patience and support of the Army.” 

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Toguchi grew up in Hawaii. His father was an Army officer, so their family lived on base. From a young age, Toguchi loved watching helicopters from his backyard, but his struggles with getting good grades stopped him from considering life as an Army pilot.

His brother, who helped to raise him after their mother died, eventually convinced him to follow his dreams during a road trip. Toguchi was inspired to study harder and train as much as he could. He even kept a personal vision board to keep himself motivated.

“I focused on three main goals. Commission as an Aviation Officer, graduate with a 3.6 G.P.A and become debt-free,” Toguchi said. “When I would get tired of studying or writing papers, I would stop and look up videos from an Army helicopter cockpit, close my eyes and imagine myself there. After a few minutes, I would always feel more motivated to keep on learning.”

Toguchi has been training since his first year of college. He started off as an Army ROTC Cadet and attended Basic Camp, where he received initial training for cadets. He then attended a cadet evaluation course known as Advanced Camp, where he was “run through a series of field exercises, including weapon qualifications, land navigation, conducting situational training and academic tests.” 

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During his senior year of college, he was finally commissioned as an Army Aviation Officer. He then started training at flight school after graduating from college. He hopes to become a Pilot in Command (PC), “the one with the highest responsibility and the highest authority in the aircraft,” as well as an instructor pilot. 

Currently, Toguchi is volunteering at an orphanage in Honduras. The experience of living there has been botheye-opening” and “extremely humbling” for him despite a language barrier.

“Part of my role as a volunteer is to spend time with the kids in the orphanage, playing sports, talking, and helping to feed the children,” he said. “I do not speak Spanish, but we have a translator with us at all times to help facilitate conversations and Google translate has made a huge difference.”

Toguchi’s ultimate goal is to get a master’s degree in family and marriage counseling, sharing that “nothing is more important to [him] than helping people.”

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When asked about the advice he would give to someone hoping to become an Army pilot, Toguchi said that it is important to believe in yourself and consider your options.

“You can do more than you imagine. Do your research, too. There are a lot of opportunities to be a pilot or serve in an aviation role as an active duty Soldier in the Army, in the Army Reserve or in the Army National Guard. Look at your options and see what fits best for you.”

“The Calling” is available to watch on YouTube, on GoArmy’s social media channels and on GoArmy.com

Featured Image via GoArmy (left), David Toguchi (right)

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