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Simply called 'Pepay,' Filipina on USS Blue Ridge symbolizes excellence

MANILA, Philippines - Ensign Maria Josefa D. Veloria, a Filipina born of a Filipino father and mother, and who credits her disciplined upbringing with her distinguished record in the US Navy, is part of the crew of the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) that docked Friday at the Manila Harbor for a four-day visit.

Fondly called “Pepay” by her family and relatives, Veloria was enlisted in the United States Navy as a Logistics Specialist and graduated from Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois, ranking first out of 800 sailors in Military Excellence.

Her first sea tour was onboard the USS Benfold (DDG 65) home-ported in San Diego, California where she served as Financial Specialist and later sent to the University of San Diego to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, graduating as a cum laude.
In 2010 she extended her studies in Paris, France.

Veloria is currently a Surface Warfare Officer onboard the USS Blue Ridge (LCC19) stationed in Yokosuka, Japan where she is managing a division of 40 personnel and is in charge of the ship’s Search and Rescue Program.

The eldest of six children, Pepay was born June 14, 1986. Living on their own inside a military camp, the family learned to survive without any house help, with all the children doing the household chores, washing the dishes, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, ironing the clothes.

When the children migrated to the United States, their independence proved to be very helpful and useful as they lived on their own tending to themselves. According to the mother, Maryjo very much admired the women in uniform. She was very hands-on, she loves order, she loves talking care and looking after her siblings----a very responsible child indeed.

It is a bit intriguing how Pepay joined the Navy along with three of her other siblings. The other four of the six children also joined the US Navy: Maria Christina, to be commissioned this May, finished at the top of her class, also a Nursing degree holder; Michael Jomari taking up Engineering at the University of San Diego; Gabriel on his 1st year as Cadet in the USNA or United States Naval Academy and a Commandant’s Lister; Maria Luzviminda, currently waiting for her Naval Academy appointment.

Mom’s called ‘Navie’

Could it be a sign or is it coincidental enough that even their mother’s name, Navie Veloria, resembles that of the branch of military service they belong to? Probably yes.

The children had very different dreams and very different plans for their future until they went to the mall one day and in jest walked into one of the recruitment centers for the United States Armed Forces or USAF. Right then and there they recognized that what they really want for themselves can be given by the USAF. They took the exam, passed it, and enlisted themselves in the United States Armed Forces, later joining the United States Navy. 

Accident, coincidence or perhaps a blessing in disguise? Probably all.

Pepay wanted to be the best of what she can be and she thinks that goal can be achieved by serving in the US Navy, at the same time fulfilling her dreams by serving in the military. In their early life, the mother had encouraged the children to try to look at their father as their hero. Their father, Brigadier General Mariano Veloria AFP, of PMA Class ’79, is currently the Brigade Commander of the 53rd Engineering Brigade of the Philippine Army.

The success of Pepay and her other siblings is an example of how hard work, dedication, self-discipline, a clear and right mindset can make one’s dreams come true. 

US Navy carrier docks in Manila harbor

The battleship USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) arrived and docked Friday at Pier 15 at the Manila harbor.

The military said it was to stay in the country for four days amid the brewing regional security and stability conflict in disputed Spratly Islands located in between the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea.

Its arrival also comes amid debates on whether seeking expanded US military presence would be good for the Philippines as North Korea ratchets up the tension with its plan to launch a satellite atop a long-range missile next month in honor of its founder Kim Il-Sung.
The UN Security Council and the US have condemned such satellite launches as a cover for developing missiles that could be used to deliver nuclear weapons.

Commissioned on November 14, 1970, the carrier is the lead ship of two Blue Ridge-class command ships of the US Navy which primary role is to provide command, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) support to the commander and staff of the Seventh Fleet.

According to Philippine Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay, the ship has on board 36 officers and 442 enlisted personnel commanded by Capt. Daniel Grieco.

No to bases, but yes to VFA: Aquino

President Benigno Aquino III has thumbed down a possible return of US bases in the country but he agrees to the increase of visiting US forces as his administration rushes to modernize the war materiel of the Armed Forces for territorial defense.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said they have at least 138 modernization projects which include upgrade capability and acquisition of modern naval and air assets due for signing on July.

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| March 25, 2012 | Article Link

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