Photo and Text by Mark Ellaga
The iron lady of the sea had been steering towards Indian Ocean as part of her Western Pacific deployment but was ordered to deviate from her original course at the drop of a hat. Tagged as the largest volcanic eruption in more than 500 years on planet Earth, Mt. Pinatubo erupted in Luzon, Philippines on the 15th of June 1991 which eventually affected thousands of lives and devastated millions of properties. As evacuation of over 45,000 citizens was a race against time, she led the 23 ship armada to transport them from Subic Bay Naval Base to port of Cebu, Visayas. The Operation Fiery Vigil, the term used to describe the whole rescue activity, was considered an epic help for the Philippines and even noted as the biggest peacetime evacuation of active military personnel and their families in history. Indeed, the 332.8 meters long and 76.8 meters wide Aircraft Carrier ship is lion hearted to the needy. But her fangs show no mercy to rip apart the flesh of enemies than when terrorists bombed the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, President Bill Clinton ordered a strike codenamed as Operation Infinite Reach. This obliged her to return to Persian Gulf in June 1998 and her battle group to launch Tomahawk missiles to pulverize a Sudanese Pharmaceutical Factory and one terrorists training camp in Afghanistan. The aforementioned sites were believed extending support to the ill-willed Osama Bin Laden.
Recipient of various prestigious awards and recognitions due to her humanitarian, military and combat or even movie and television roles, the fifth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier of the United States Navy today named USS Abraham Lincoln is truly like a girl on fire!
On the other hand, she’s just a royal and lonely beauty without her supreme strong leader. This point actually inspired me to write this blog. I am a Filipino seafarer, sailor of seven seas in particular and to know that my blood and a part of his blood were of the same motherland, I feel more proud and happier. I and the rest of the Filipino community are celebrating his investiture to command USS Abraham Lincoln who is currently undergoing a refueling complex overhaul in her homeport in Virginia, United States.
Local newspapers in Philippines said that he officially relieved his brother-in-law, Capt. Karl Thomas in a short ceremony attended by around 500 Lincoln sailors, friends and family last August 7, 2014 at Victory Landing Park in Newport News, Virginia.
Though he doesn’t consider that he’s totally up and above from his fellow sailors, Captain Ronald Ravelo set a record in history for being the first ever Filipino American to command an aircraft carrier in United States Navy.
For his academic records, Captain Ravelo is an industrial and systems engineer and an alumnus of University of Southern California. Also, he studied at University of Redlands from 1994-1995 and Harvard University Kennedy School of Government from 2011-2012.
Though his responsibility is heavy and serious enough to carry, he knows how to have fun by taking a “selfies”. One I like best was his “Skipper’s Selfie” which he took after taking over the con and was posted to the Philippine Navy Facebook Account (same image used for this blog).
In behalf of Filipino seafarers-members of i-Pinoy Circle and Sailor’s Club, I wish the newly hailed King of USS Abraham Lincoln a smooth sailing. We salute your bravery and world class achievement sir! It’s truly inspirational and shall not perish on earth.