FOR most immigrants, moving to the United States (US) means finding opportunities for a better life.
And many Filipino-Americans are finding a career in the US military a viable option.
Several crew members of the USS John P. Murtha have Filipino heritage, the highest ranking being a lieutenant.
For Lt. Christian Capistrano, 31, everything he does is “pretty exciting” and considers it an honor to be serving the US.
“Everybody had a duty to serve this country. And I have no problems with living here. Everything has been good,” he told reporters.
Capistrano was born in Manila and moved to Guam when he was 11.
He led the journalists on a tour of the USS John P. Murtha, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship that is 684 feet long and 105 feet wide. The new ship was commissioned in October and has not been on any missions yet.
It can transport 66 officers and 633 enlisted personnel and surge to 800.
Capistrano said the ship can be deployed for different missions but added that it is ideal for disaster relief operations.
The flight deck can launch and land up to two helicopters and two boats.
For crew members serving in the ship, they feel like one big family.
Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Juan Gabriel Sanchez, 26, admitted that he did not know what to expect at first.
Originally from Marikina, he moved to the US in 2011.
“I’m proud. Not everybody gets a chance to serve,” he said.
Asked what Filipino values helped him with his job, Sanchez said he learned not to complain too much and to follow orders.
For Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Salina Rutherford, 21, her Filipino mother raised her to be kind and respectful, regardless of race and religion, which helps when working in a ship with a diverse crew.
Aviation Boatwains Mate Joseph David Onadia, 22, says he grew up with nothing and just learned to do the work he was asked to.
Originally from Bacolod, Onadia got his citizenship two years ago after living in the US for nine years.
While he is proud to be a Filipino, he said he feels honored to be in uniform.