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Face of Defense: Rim of the Pacific Exercise Brings Family Together

By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael H. Lee, Submarine Force Pacific

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii, Aug. 10, 2016 — This year’s Rim of the Pacific exercise presented one military family with a unique experience to serve and work together.

Rimpac, the world’s largest maritime training exercise, brings together dozens of nations every two years to foster cooperation through cooperation and training. This year’s exercise was held from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

Navy Lt. John Pacheco, from Somerset, New Jersey, enlisted in 1995. Five years later, he earned his commission through the Navy’s Advanced Pay Grade Program.

Children Follow Father in the Navy

Fifteen years later, Pacheco’s son, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class John Pacheco Jr., followed his father’s lead and joined the Navy’s intelligence community. Twice could be a coincidence, but three times is a trend. One year later, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christine A. Smith, Lieutenant Pacheco’s daughter, joined the intelligence community.

“It’s a privilege, and I am honored that they are following in my steps,” the lieutenant said of his children. “They really appreciate what the U.S. stands for, and are proud to be a part of it.”

All three Pachecos serve as reservists who were activated to fill the need for more specialized personnel during Rimpac, which involves more than 40 ships and submarines, 200 aircraft and more than 25,000 personnel.

Their expertise in intelligence brought them to the watch floor at Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet here. The training and hands-on experience in the Navy’s intelligence field has been an eye-opening experience for the Pachecos.

Passion for Intelligence

“I’ve never done anything like this, and that’s what continues to drive my passion for intel,” Smith said. Lieutenant Pacheco said learning new information and skills in areas such as counternarcotics keeps him excited about continuing to serve, but working with his children was something he never imagined happening.

Working together definitely has its advantages on a watch floor that requires 24-hour manning. Communication is key when turning over with watch-standers, and as a family, the Pachecos make it a little easier for themselves because of the trust they have for each other.

“It’s a great learning experience,” Petty Officer Pacheco said. “It’s easy for me to fulfill my responsibilities and duties, because I know I can rely on my sister to spend the extra time to answer my questions and provide a good pass-down.”

Even diction can have an impact on how efficiently missions are completed.

“He already knows how to phrase things to me, because I’m his daughter,” Smith said. “So when I turn over to my brother, it’s quick, because I already know how to talk to him. We’ve been succeeding during Rimpac because of our communication.”

Proud Father

With the conclusion of this year’s Rimpac, Lieutenant Pacheco reflected on serving with his son and daughter in Pearl Harbor. "Our working relationship is very good," he said. "When it comes to work, they are very respectful as enlisted sailors. And they treat me as an officer." But with a smile, he jokingly added, "I wish they were that respectful at home! They are great sailors and even better kids. Serving together has brought us closer."
Distribution channels: Military