Approximately 8,500 Sailors make up the USS John C. Stennis Strike Group (JCSSG) currently in Philippine visit, of which at least 238 are of Filipino heritage, the United States Navy said. The Commanding Officer of USS Stockdale (DDG 106), Cmdr. Raphael Castillejo, is among those Sailors.
Castillejo took over the command of the said American warship May 12, from Cmdr. Sean Grunwell.
The strike group consists of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 embarked, guided-missile destroyers USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), and guided- missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53).
Castillejo was born at Makati Medical Center and moved to the United States as a young child. He has served in the Navy for 23 years. He plans to lead a wreath-laying ceremony at a local cemetery to remember those lost liberating the Philippines during World War II.
Another is Logistics Specialist First Class Don Salamero, a USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) crew member. He was born and raised in Daet Camarines Norte, in the Bicol region of the Philippines. Salamero enlisted in the Navy 17 years ago to explore and learn about different cultures, and he is excited to return to the Philippines for this port visit.
The strike group entered US 7th Fleet area of operations February 4, to participate in a number of exercises during this deployment; training, integrating and building capacity with allies in the Pacific region as part of an ongoing rotation of US forces supporting maritime security operations in waters around the world, the US Navy said.
Five of the seven US Mutual Defense Treaties are with countries in 7th Fleet area of operation which are Republic of the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Japan, and Thailand.
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