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Phl Army general's daughter sails on US ship

US Navy Ensign Maria Josefa Veloria is interviewed by reporters near the USS Blue Ridge in Manila’s South Harbor yesterday.

MANILA, Philippines - The daughter of a Philippine Army general is one of the Filipino-American officers and sailors on the US Navy ship

USS Blue Ridge, which docked yesterday at the Manila South Harbor for a four-day port call.

“It’s good to be back in the Philippines, but the feeling now is entirely different because I am back not on a commercial plane but aboard my ship, USS Blue Ridge,” US Navy Ensign Maria Josefa Veloria told reporters in an interview following a guided media tour of the vessel.

Veloria, 25, nicknamed Maryjo or Pepay, is the daughter of Brig. Gen. Mariano Veloria, chief engineer of the Army. She makes it a point to come home every year to be with her parents and relatives.

On board the Blue Ridge, which is based in Yokosuka, Japan, Veloria is the command-and-control vessel’s Surface Warfare Officer where she has 40 personnel under her.

She is also in charge of the ship’s search and rescue program.

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As a US Navy junior officer, Veloria is among the Filipino-American officers and sailors comprising 12 percent of the entire crew of the Blue Ridge, which is the command and control ship of the US 7th Fleet under Capt. Daniel Grieco.

Veloria was then 19 years old and in her second year of pre-medicine at the University of the Philippines in Manila when she, her mother and five other siblings migrated to the US, leaving their father who stayed in the Army.

In her desire to pursue her studies, Veloria said she enlisted in the US Navy and was later admitted into the Recruit and Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois where she finished at the top of her class.

“We treat each other aboard as equals,” she said.

She said that she invited her parents and other close relatives to dinner on board the Blue Ridge for a long-awaited get together.

Veloria’s first sea duty was on board the USS Benfold based in San Diego, California, where she served as financial specialist.

While in San Diego, the US Navy sent her to the University of San Diego to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, graduating cum laude. In 2010 she continued her studies in Paris.

The eldest of six children, Veloria was born on June 14, 1986.

Living in a military camp in the Philippines, the family learned to survive without any house helpers, with all the children doing household chores – washing clothes and dishes, ironing clothes, and cleaning house.

When the Veloria children migrated to the US, their independence proved to be very useful.

Veloria’s mother Navie, now living in the country, said her daughter’s interests include traveling.

“Among other things kaya pumasok ako sa US Navy, gusto ko kasi mag-travel,” Ensign Veloria said.

Four other Veloria siblings – Maria Christina, Michael Jomari, Gabriel, and Maria Luzviminda – have followed her footsteps and also joined the US Navy.

Christina, a nursing degree holder, is set to be commissioned this May; Jomari is taking up engineering at the University of San Diego; Gabriel is on his first year as cadet in the United States Naval Academy, Luzviminda is now awaiting her appointment at the naval academy.

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