An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

PMRF Spotlight: Deputy Technical Director Denise Chun

31 May 2023

From Lisa Ferdinando

PACIFIC MISSILE RANGE FACILITY, Hawaii - Three decades ago, engineer Denise Chun arrived at Pacific Missile Range Facility as a new college graduate, embarking on a journey that would see her rise to the number two civilian position at the installation.

Chun, the deputy technical director at the world’s largest instrumented range, remembers her beginnings at this facility in southwestern Kauai.


“I graduated from University of Hawaii in December 1989. I think they were recruiting for the college junior professionals back then,” she recalls. “They hired engineers out of college and had them go through rotation and determine where they would best fit within the organization.” 


She rotated into different areas, including public works, range operations, and range systems, and gained valuable technical experience in the nuanced and precise jobs that function simultaneously to allow successful range operations. 


“I think all the hard work and experiences helped build me up to be able to apply and qualify for this position,” she said, noting the invaluable support of many great mentors, teachers and guides over the years. “I didn't get here by myself.”


Her grandparents and parents left China and settled in Hawaii, seeking a better life and wanting to live in a democratic country with better opportunities, she says. She was born in Oahu, and graduated university with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.


She is proud to know that Asian American and Pacific Islanders are celebrated with a month honoring their heritage and contributions to society. “We are such a melting pot in the United States,” she said. “It is nice to be recognized as a contributing entity, and have a month that celebrates the opportunities given to us in the United States.” 


Chun notes challenges at the start of her career with how others treated and perceived women, Asians, and local hires. A woman in a male-dominated field, she remained steadfast, and over time, cultural ideals shifted, welcoming in diversity and greater roles for women in the workforce. Engineering was no longer a “non-traditional” job for women, she says.


“We've evolved culturally as well as with acceptance out here,” she said. “It has evolved and I'm really happy to see the progress and we’ll continue to evolve.”


She describes PMRF as Ohana, or family, lauding the installation as forward-thinking, innovative and a conscious steward of the environment. It is a wonderful place to work and offers incredible careers, she highlights.


Chun remembers fondly the special memories, great colleagues, and lifelong friendships she made here. She commuted to work for three decades with her husband, Alan Chun, who retired last year from PMRF. Their love story began at the University of Hawaii. Alan, then Chun’s boyfriend, was hired at PMRF six months before she graduated. They are proud parents of a daughter. Chun describes the Garden Island of Kauai as a wonderful place for their family.


Chun shares the message of PMRF with the community. She visits local high schools and hosts career days at PMRF for high school students. She is a proponent of the Pathways Program that introduces young people to the excellent career opportunities at PMRF, including military, civilian and contract positions in a multitude of fields like engineering, computer tech, environmental, air operations, public works and maintenance.


PMRF boasts an incredible mission that supports the warfighter with testing, training and innovation, Chun says. The installation supports training events that vary from small, single-unit exercises up to large-scale, multinational exercises like Rim of the Pacific, RIMPAC. 


“I think the greatest accomplishment that I've done at PMRF was to posture PMRF to have the capability to do a lot of the ballistic missile testing out here,” she said. “We did a major upgrade at PMRF in order to support that kind of test event.”


Chun is among many personnel who have served at PMRF for decades, spending their careers at this small, remote installation doing work to support the warfighter. PMRF is dynamic and unique, and an extraordinary Ohana, notes Chun, “You never stop learning.”


Google Translation Disclaimer

  • Google Translate, a third party service provided by Google, performs all translations directly and dynamically.
  • Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, has no control over the features, functions, or performance of the Google Translate service.
  • The automated translations should not be considered exact and should be used only as an approximation of the original English language content.
  • This service is meant solely for the assistance of limited English-speaking users of the website.
  • Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information translated.
  • Some items cannot be translated, including but not limited to image buttons, drop down menus, graphics, photos, or portable document formats (pdfs).
  • Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, does not directly endorse Google Translate or imply that it is the only language translation solution available to users.
  • All site visitors may choose to use similar tools for their translation needs. Any individuals or parties that use Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, content in translated form, whether by Google Translate or by any other translation services, do so at their own risk.
  • IE users: Please note that Google Translate may not render correctly when using Internet Explorer. Users are advised to use MS Edge, Safari, Chrome, or Firefox browser to take full advantage of the Google Translate feature.
  • The official text of content on this site is the English version found on this website. If any questions arise related to the accuracy of the information contained in translated text, refer to the English version on this website, it is the official version.

Commander, Navy Region Hawaii   |   850 Ticonderoga St   |   Pearl Harbor, HI 96860-5101
Official U.S. Navy Website