Unexpectedly and with a violent force, Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Philippines, starting its destruction on the 7th of November. As the death toll numbers began to steadily rise, the call came in just 2 days later. They needed us. We were to report to Okinawa to pick up a full detachment of marines and head to the Philippines to provide disaster relief in what is now known as Operation Damayan. Damayan in Tagalog means helping hand which was the objective of the mission and a name well deserved.

Most of the time this is what happens to a sailor at sea. We roll with the punches on a daily basis, changing our schedule, preparing for different operations. Its what we do. I guess that’s the bad thing about being stationed on a ship, which can go anywhere in the world. Talk about the flexibility. One day you’re headed toward Russia, the next you are headed to the Panama Canal… just an example.

The recall began promptly and preparations were made to button everything back up and get it working. Just a day later we were in Okinawa picking up marines, and shortly after that the transit began. Haiyan reached a death count of 1,800 and we were able to provide relief to them with supplies and aircraft, everything counts.

Promo1 Along the way I reached my 4 year mark in the Navy which means that I was indeed able to breathe my way to Lieutenant or so the joke goes. When I was promoted to LTJG we happened to be in the Straits of Messina which is between the Boot of Italy and the Island of Cicily. SO AWESOME.

Although I didn’t plan my commission date, I like that its at the end of November. I came into the Navy on a path different from most. Not ROTC, and not Naval Academy, but OCS. We’re a different breed altogether. I was very excited to be promoted to LT especially because just 2 days before we found out the results for frocking (sailors getting pinned their next rank) and I was able to get promoted out on the flight deck, in front of the whole crew, right off the coast of the Philippines!

promo2I asked my Department Head and the Chief Engineer to pin me. He was honored and it felt right, we’ve been through a lot together over the past year.

IMG_0926 Here is a picture of all of the Ladies in the Navy, or at least a majority of the female Officers on board. We have quite a few on our ship (there are 4 missing from the picture) and I think this says a lot having almost half the wardroom be female. I like that.

IMG_0934Jess, was seriously surprised I made it all of this way and as she should be. Haha, I’m just kidding, she’s posin for the camera saying Hey Girl Hey!

IMG_0937 I guess the excitement got the best of me and you see me in my true form. I think I’ll still act goofy even when I’m an LT.

IMG_0940 The wardroom stuck around for a few pictures, and I thank you all for coming out.

IMG_0946 CHENG and I decided to get a picture up on the 6K Forklift… because we can. Proof that even if you make LCDR you can still be a little goofy.

IMG_0951 One more of the group.

IMG_0952And my girls. Seriously what would I do without these two while underway, when I’m upset, when I feel like I can’t go on. Thanks for all of your support in everything!

IMG_0953 Then they decided they were going to pick me up, and I just had to roll with it. Please don’t drop meeeeeeeee.

IMG_0956 But of course they didn’t, because they rock.

IMG_0966 Afterwards there was a day of celebration and we had a Steal Beach Picnic in honor of everyone that had made rank and promoted. This means a big BBQ outside to enjoy the sunny weather. For effect, I wore my PSY Gangnam Style glasses I actually got in Gangnam, Korea.

IMG_0969 IMG_0970 The line lasted for ever, but everyone was pretty content getting a burger some BBQ chicken, or a hot dog. They even had some chocolate macadamia cookies. yum yum.

IMG_0971 IMG_0972 IMG_0973 After all that food, we decided to head to the flight deck to get a little sun (I’m just a little white from being couped up all day every day, down in the engine rooms.)

IMG_0977 One of my last pictures with Fisher, she’s already on her way back to America as I write this, out of the Navy and ready to reap the benefits of falling back into the civilian life style again. I will miss her! We have done so much together, fixed so much equipment, moved mountains, had major casualties. It was a great experience working alongside her!

IMG_0978 And just as the steal beach picnic was winding down, the rain came, just in time to get everyone soaking wet. In my opinion the Officer of the Deck drove straight at a rain squall because they are easy to spot out on the open ocean, but I guess we can never really be certain.

IMG_0979And the best part? Being able to soak as many marines as possible. haha.

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