Thursday, June 16, 2011
SIBLINGS COULD BECOME 1ST FIL-AM ADMIRALS' TANDEM
When US Navy Capt. Raquel Bono gets her first star, she and her admiral-brother will have the distinction of being the only Filipino-American siblings holding flag officer ranks simultaneously.
Capt. Bono was nominated for promotion to Rear Admiral last April. Her younger brother is Rear Adm. Anatolio B. Cruz III, deputy commander of US Naval Forces Southern Command and concurrently deputy commander of the Florida-based 4th Fleet that operates in the Caribbean and South American waters.
The US Navy Personnel Diversity Directorate said the siblings’ grandfather, an obstetrician in the Philippines, was commissioned as a US Army Colonel during World War II.
Their parents immigrated to Minnesota in the 1960s and later settled in San Antonio, Texas. Their father was physician in the US Navy and retired with the rank of Captain.
At the prodding of her father, Bono availed of the US Navy’s Health Professions Scholarship program, earning her medical degree at Texas Tech and kicked off her naval carrer with a general surgery residence at the Portsmouth, Virginia Naval Hospital.
She was the first woman to graduate from the program.
"Service to others; service to country," Bono explained. "It was ingrained in us by our father and mother in gratitude to their adopted country, the United States."
"I had tremendous support from the department,” she said. "What I enjoyed about being in the Navy was that I always felt confident that my ability to be advanced was going to be based on my capabilities and my performance. I felt that I had an equitable opportunity to succeed."
She was deployed to Saudi Arabia to help manage Fleet Hospital 5 during the first Gulf War. After three years commanding Naval Hospital Jacksonville in Florida (the 4th largest in the US Navy), Bono was appointed chief of staff of the TRICARE Management Activity in September 2008.
In 2010, she became the deputy director of medical resources, plans and policy for the chief of naval operations.
She was named as one of the 100 most influential Filipino women in the United States in 2009.
On the other hand, Cruz graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in 1980 and was assigned to the Knox-Class frigate USS Gray. In 1982, he earned the Pacific Fleet Shiphandler of the Year Award.
He returned to Annapolis two years later as an admissions and congressional liaison officer. He transferred to the Navy Reserve in 1986 but remained active in academy admissions for the next 22 years with particular interest in promoting diversity.
"I've seen first-hand the strides we've made over the years," he declared.
Cruz completed six command tours, much of them in special operations assignments. Units he commanded earned the Leo Bilger Award for mission effectiveness and the Meritorious Unit Commendation for exceptional performance, the report said. He was appointed to his current position in February 2010.
But he has always looked up to his sister. "She was the smart one and very disciplined at everything she did," he enthused. "Dad set the bar and she raised that bar. Quite frankly, she deserved to make flag before I did."
Both Bono and Cruz are proud of their Filipino American heritage. "The Navy has been a great place to pursue a career and still maintain the essence of who you are as an individual and a member of a particular ethnic group," Bono said.
"It's an environment that values the different, representative groups to enhance and promote the people who are serving."