HomeNewsArticle Display

An American Tale: From Beijing to Minot

An American Tale: From Beijing to Minot

(Courtesy photo)

An American Tale: From Beijing to Minot

(Courtesy photo)

An American Tale: From Beijing to Minot

(Courtesy photo)

An American Tale: From Beijing to Minot

(Courtesy photo)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --

Beijing is a long way from Minot, North Dakota-5,931 miles to be exact.  

With a population of nearly 22 million, the massive super city is located on the northern tip of the North China Plain and is the country’s second most populous city.  Beijing’s rich history dates back thousands of years and is considered by many to be the epicenter of politics within China.  


Beijing is also the birthplace of Capt. Stephanie Huang, a lawyer, who works at the 5th Bomb Wing legal office, Minot Air Force Base.

The daughter of Edgar Huang and Lily Sun, Stephanie was born Jan. 27, 1991. Prior to Huang’s birth, her father earned his first master’s degree and was a college professor at the Beijing Institute of International Relations where he taught photojournalism. He also worked as a calligrapher and journalist. It was during this time that China began to experience a political upheaval so powerful it sent shockwaves around the globe.

Tiananmen Square Massacre

Many people know of the Tiananmen Square uprising because of a famous Associated Press photo taken by Jeff Widener, which shows an unidentified man standing in protest in front of a column of Chinese military tanks. To Chinese citizens, there is much more to the uprising than this particular photo.

It was three weeks of vigils, marches and protests. Three weeks, in May 1989, when young Chinese nationals gathered in droves to protest what they believed were repressive Chinese Communist Party actions. Three weeks leading to the death of at least 300, possibly thousands, during the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Documenting the protests was a young, aspiring photojournalist: Edgar Huang. While Edgar was among the crowds during the duration of the protests, he was talked out of going to Tiananmen Square by his wife.

“I was not at Tiananmen Square on the night of the massacre,” said Edgar. “Stephanie’s mother requested that I stay home, since the central government had issued a serious warning about going to Tiananmen Square that night. I listened to my wife.”

Following the protests, students remained in solidarity and defiance of the Chinese government and went on hunger strikes and held banners that contained Edgar’s calligraphy. One of the banners that was hung on a wall led to trouble for the Huang family.

“I could not deny that was my handwriting, so I took the consequence,” said Huang.

In China at the time, it was common practice for every citizen to have a personal dossier created by a company on behalf of the Chinese government, a university, or wherever the citizen worked. The individual had no way of knowing what was in the dossier.

“I knew that my university had notified me that a ‘serious warning’ had been placed in my dossier,” explained Edgar. “With that serious warning, I should not have expected to get promoted at my university, and if I decided to leave, I could not expect that other universities would hire me. So I decided to leave the country. I did not want my newly-born daughter to live in that kind of environment.”

It was at this moment that Edgar applied for a journalism scholarship to the University of California, San Diego, located in La Jolla, California. Edgar knew his family needed to leave China and he felt the scholarship was their only chance. He was accepted into the academic program and moved his family to the U.S. While Edgar would arrive in California before his family, he was nervous the Chinese authorities would seize his film, which contained photos of the protests surrounding the Tiananmen Square massacre. The responsibility of getting the film into the U.S. fell on Lily. She managed to evade authorities by placing the negatives in her luggage and delivering the film to her husband on American soil.

A New Beginning

Stephanie was just three years old when her family arrived in La Jolla, California. Because of Edgar’s passion for academics and the pursuit of a professorship, the family would move several times, to Bloomington, Indiana, then to DeKalb, Illinois and then to Largo, Florida, before finally settling down in Carmel, Indiana.

In the early 1990s, Edgar taught Graduate Record Examinations and Tests of English as a Foreign Language course in China, so transitioning to speaking English in America was an easy process.

“I started to learn English in school in Shanghai when I was in 4th grade. Outside of school, I listened, via shortwave channel, to Voice of America, a radio station that almost no Americans know about since it is not allowed by law to air in the United States,” said Edgar. “I was very intrigued by English 900, Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and news stories, which were so different from what I heard from Chinese media, especially during the student movement in 1989.”
The love of academics was passed on to Stephanie who was accepted to and began pursuing her undergraduate degree at Rice University in Houston, Texas, after graduating from high school.

“I do come from a somewhat stereotypical Asian family, where my father told me I could do anything so long as I could support myself and so long as I enjoyed it. He still pushed me more toward the doctor, lawyer, or engineer route,” explained Stephanie. “So I spent most of my time in high school and college doing anything but those things so he could get used to the disappointment and eventually be okay with it.”

During her freshman year at Rice, Stephanie first discovered the issue of human trafficking. It became her passion. She concentrated on human rights as a method of study, but as she explained, “human trafficking gave me focus.” Her father continued pushing her to apply for law school because he felt it would help her get a “real” job, given her particular majors in college.

While completing an internship in Ecuador during the summer before her senior year, she found out her friend, named Michelle, also studying at Rice, was also doing an internship in Ecuador. At the end of their internships, they decided to travel to a portion of the Amazon jungle accessible on the eastern part of Ecuador. Stephanie learned Michelle planned on applying for law school and it interested her. Michelle explained that lawyers had an opportunity to work on human rights abuse issues which she hadn’t thought of before.

“So, it was there, on a motorized canoe in the middle of a river in the Amazon jungle, that I decided I would try out this law school thing,” she said. “If I took the Law School Admission Test and then got accepted into law school, I’d go for it and see what I could do to direct my career toward human rights.”

Following her graduation from Rice with an undergraduate degree in Hispanic Studies and Policy Studies, with a minor in Global Health Technologies, Stephanie applied for two law schools-the University of Texas School of Law and the University of Houston Law Center. She enrolled at the University of Houston Law Center and immediately got to work. Her goal was to work with non-profit groups to help victims of human trafficking who were facing legal issues. She applied for an internship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston and was selected for the program.

“The internship was the best thing I could have done during law school, because it exposed me to a career that is probably most fitting for my personality and values…prosecution,” she said. “However, it’s not just prosecution for prosecution’s sake-it was the concept of ‘prosecutorial discretion’ that really swayed me. I learned that by watching some of the best work on the Tencha case, which is one of the largest human trafficking rings to get prosecuted in U.S. history.”

Not only was Stephanie thrilled with the work she did at the USAO, it was there that she had a chance encounter with Col. Mitchel Neurock who was working as an Air Force Reserve judge advocate. Neurock was one of Stephanie’s supervisors and encouraged her to join the U.S. Air Force.

“I’m glad he did, because I’m very happy now to be part of the Air Force.”

Having been at Minot Air Force Base since April, Capt. Huang admits she’s still trying to wrap her arms around military life, as well as being an attorney. While the lifestyle isn’t easy, she says she is making progress.

“I’m a newly minted attorney starting my first real job here,” Stephanie said. “Here’s how someone else phrased it to me: ‘Military lawyers have two professions-the legal profession and the profession of arms.’ For us, it should be equally important to be both a good officer and a good attorney. For me, I am learning both at the same time and I am trying to do a good job, but it is a challenge. However, I am slowly but surely starting to get the hang of things, so my short-term goal is to keep on keeping on.”

Her advice for anyone seeking new opportunities?

“Don’t be afraid to break the mold and try things you may be interested in. To be honest, breaking the mold for me has mostly resulted in situations that have challenged me and forced me to adapt to new environments and lifestyles. However, I don’t think I’ll have regrets about not taking a chance when I still had the opportunity to do so!”
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.

Contact Us

To reach the Minot Air Force Base Main Directory, call: Commercial (701) 723-7979 or DSN: 453-7979.   

To request Public Affairs support, please fill out an Air Force Form 833 and email to the Minot AFB Public Affairs workflow mailbox

Unfortunately, we are not accepting marquee requests since our marquee board is down for an undetermined amount of time. Thank you for understanding.

FacebookFacebook
InstagramInstagram
TwitterTwitter
FlickrFlickr
YouTubeYouTube