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New Brigade Commander Ready to Take Brigade to New Heights

Posted on: January 14, 2014 09:00 EST by Midshipman 1st Class Colleen Randolph

When Midshipman 1st Class Eugene Yang was a plebe, his Plebe Summer squad leader encouraged the otherwise quiet and unassuming young man to step up and be assertive. Little did Yang’s squad leader know the otherwise inconspicuous plebe from Berkeley, Calif., would one day lead the Brigade of Midshipmen to their most exciting semester yet.

Yang, who has been selected for the position of spring semester brigade commander, is a future Marine, self-proclaimed “mellow fellow,” and incredibly humble to boot.

Born to immigrant family members, Yang decided upon the Naval Academy in an effort to serve and support the ones he loves. The first midshipman from his high school to serve since the 1950s, Yang’s goal was to become a man of action and character.

“As I grew up, I always wanted to be in a job where I could help people and provide for my family. My family immigrated to America and worked extremely hard my entire life to provide a good education, stable lifestyle, and good experiences that ultimately shaped the person I’ve become today,” said Yang.

With his fresh perspective and an unbeatable, hardworking, “can-do” attitude, Yang is ready to take the brigade to new heights.

“I personally would like to move forward on the momentum of refocusing and challenging the definition of training here at the academy,” he said. “I firmly believe that as mids it’s our duty to take advantage of all of the mentorship opportunities and challenges that this place offers.”

In addition to training, Yang is a huge proponent of focus on the squad leader and setting a standard of initiative within the brigade. He believes the biggest investment midshipmen should be making is in each other.

“These are some of the best friends we will ever make in our lives, and as individuals that have demonstrated high leadership potential, we should be personally investing our time in each other as our highest priority,” said Yang.

When not at work, Yang can most often be found outside enjoying the Annapolis outdoors.

“I like to be outdoors and stay active, though less so now because it’s so cold and slippery and my sheltered Californian body is still readjusting,” said Yang. “I’m a fan of nature, and the hiking around Annapolis is pretty neat.”

Yang knows firsthand the wealth of opportunities the academy has to offer. He counts his second class year among his best at the academy so far. Studying abroad in Taiwan, participating in training exercises at West Point, and becoming a Plebe Summer detailer are some of his most cherished academy memories.

“That entire year I really found out who I was and found many mentors and older brother figures along the way who have guided me into becoming the man I am today,” he said.

Yang has shared in a number of failures in his time here at the Naval Academy but understands the value of these failures in leading to his ultimate success. He cites this especially in his decision to become a Marine.

“I originally applied to the academies wanting to be a pilot but quickly changed my mind.”

When Yang caught the SEAL bug his second-class year, he took the process as far as Mini-BUDs and decided that it was not where he best fit.

“I was crushed at first, because failure is always painful, but now I had a choice. I could either hate myself and my life forever or try and be optimistic and look forward to the opportunities that had opened up for me.”

Yang ultimately decided upon Marine Corps Ground for his service selection.

“Service selection is about where you will best serve. We all came here to serve, and we’re the type of people where we will be most happiest serving in the capacity that utilizes all of our strengths for the benefit of others,” he said. “If you ask yourself where you think you could contribute the most, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

While he may have been a cautious and unassuming plebe, Yang has learned the worth of putting himself out there and letting himself fail, just as his Plebe Summer squad leader urged him to do. Now, as he prepares to lead the brigade in his final semester at the Naval Academy, he is anything but quiet and all about making sure it is a semester to remember.

“I don’t have a profound or nebulous recipe for anybody to become a legendary leader. My goal for the Brigade is straightforward and simple: take care of each other, and take care of yourselves,” he said. “Be a good dude. If your friends know that you’d take care of them in a pinch and that they can trust and count on you to help them out in a bind, then I think you’re demonstrating the value that all good leaders have as their foundation: selflessness.”

Yang encourages midshipmen to spend time – a midshipman’s most precious resource – on their peers.  

“The ones you mentor and grow with are the ones you’ll remember after you leave Bancroft. Nothing else could possibly matter more.”

Want to know more about our fearless Brigade Commander? Here are some additional “get to know you” questions!

Favorite food?

Potatoes of any sort. It’s kind of bad, but so good at the same time.

Favorite book (and why)?

I really liked the book “Yellow Green Beret” by Chester Wong and highly recommend it. YGB details stories of a Special Forces captain who grew up near where I did but made the mistake of going to West Point. He gives a really good, realistic perspective on his experiences in the military and, in my opinion, what kind of attitude you need to have in order to be successful in the military or in life in general.

I also think that being an Asian-American in the military is a unique experience, and this book captures some of his personal experiences and thoughts on the matter.

Favorite song/music? 

My favorite song is “Dare You to Move” by Switchfoot. I listen to a lot of contemporary Christian music, and I think my favorites are Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, and Starfield.

Favorite place around the yard?

My favorite place is the walk between Michelson and Chauvenet. If you stand in the right spot, you can see all of the ceremonial spaces, the chapel, Bancroft, the ocean, and all of the academic buildings. If you’re lucky the fountain will be full of bubbles, but mids are reminded not to do that because it causes damage to our awesome school.

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