SEVERAL months ago, a Filipino brother and sister team made history in the United States Navy, when they became the first and only siblings of Filipino descent to hold flag-officer ranks simultaneously.
The Naval Public Affairs department has dubbed Rear Admiral Raquel Cruz Bono and her brother Rear Admiral Anatolio B. “AB” Cruz III as the “Face of Defense: Siblings Showcase Navy’s Diversity.”
“The two Navy officers are serving as prime examples of the diversity found within the Navy’s ranks,” says a press release from the US Department of Defense.
They are also serving as outstanding examples to their kababayans — that dreams do come true and their success shows what hardwork, perseverance and determination can achieve.
Navy Rear Adm. Anatolio B. Cruz III is deputy commander of the US Naval Forces Southern Command and deputy commander, US Fourth Fleet while Rear Admiral Raquel C. Bono is in the Medical Corps, US Navy and Command Surgeon, US Pacific Command.
Their father is a retired US Navy captain himself and proved to be the inspiration to the siblings’ careers.
In their biographies from the US Navy website, Bono said: “Service to others; service to country. It was ingrained in us by our father and mother in gratitude to their adopted country, the United States.”
The siblings’ grandfather, who was an obstetrician in the Philippines, served in the US Army as a colonel during America’s fight with the Japanese in World War II.
Almost two decades later, their parents migrated to the United States in Minnesota, where their father completed his surgical residency and became part of the Navy Reserve, retiring as a captain.
The Cruz family eventually settled in San Antonio, Texas.
Rear Admiral Raquel Cruz Bono
Awarded as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina American Women in the United States in 2009, Raquel Cruz Bono is truly changing the face of power in America. She was deployed to the first Gulf War as the trauma surgeon to oversee Casualty Receiving at Fleet Hospital Five in Saudi Arabia, and Commanding Officer for Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, the Navy’s 4th largest hospital.
As the eldest child, Bono initially planned on becoming a nurse and enrolled at the University of Texas.
Her father challenged her to become a doctor, which she did, through the Navy’s Health Professions Scholarship program.
Bono earned her medical degree at Texas Tech and began her military career with a general surgery residency at Naval Hospital Portsmouth, Va. She was the first woman to graduate from the program.
“I had tremendous support from the department … from the staff that ran the program,” she said.
“What I enjoyed about being in the Navy was that I always felt confident that my ability to be advanced was going to be based on my capabilities and my performance. I felt that I had an equitable opportunity to succeed.”
She was commissioned in 1979 and earned her baccalaureate degree from the University of Texas in Austin. Bono attended medical school at Texas Tech University and completed her surgical internship and General Surgery residency at Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth. She also completed a Trauma and Critical Care fellowship at the Eastern Virginia Graduate School of Medicine in Norfolk. Va.
From August 1990 to March 1991, Bono served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm as head of Casualty Receiving, Fleet Hospital Five in Saudi Arabia. When she returned to the US, Bono was stationed as a general surgeon at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth; as surgical intensivist in the Medical/Surgical Intensive Care Unit, and as attending surgeon at the Burn Trauma Unit at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
Bono’s other appointed duties include: division head of Trauma;; head of the Ambulatory Procedures Department (APD); chair of the Laboratory Animal Care and Use Committee; assistant head of the Clinical Investigations and Research department; chair of the Medical Records Committee, and command intern coordinator.
Bono also served as the specialty leader for Intern Matters to the Surgeon General of the Navy.
She was assigned as director of Restorative Care at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md in September 1999. From September 2001 to December 2002, she was assigned to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery as the medical corps career planning officer for the Chief of the Medical Corps.
In January 2003, Bono returned to the National Naval Medical Center as director for Medical–Surgical Services.
“From August 2004 through August 2005, she served as the executive assistant to the 35th Navy Surgeon General of the Navy and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.
Following that, she reported to Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Fla., as the commanding officer from August 2005 to August 2008. She then served as the chief of staff, deputy director Tricare Management Activity (TMA) of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs (OASD(HA)) from September 2008 to June 2010. Bono later served as deputy director, Medical Resources, Plans and Policy (N093), Chief of Naval Operations prior to assuming her current duties as the command surgeon, US Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, in November 2011,” says a press release from America’s Navy website.
“In addition to being a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery, Bono is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma. Her personal decorations include Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit Medal (four awards), Meritorious Service Medal (two), and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal (two).”
Rear Admiral AB Cruz
Rear Admiral AB Cruz is only a year younger than his Ate Raquel, but admits that he has always been in awe of his sister.
“She was the smart one and very disciplined at everything she did,” Cruz said. “Dad set the bar and she raised that bar. Quite frankly, she deserved to make flag before I did.”
Cruz graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in 1980. He reported aboard USS Gray (FF-1054) in 1981, where he was the only minority officer. He served as Electronic Materials Officer, Auxiliary-Repair-Electrical Officer, Damage Control Assistant, and Acting Engineering Department Head. In 1982, he was awarded the Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet’s Shiphandler-of-the-Year Award.
In 1984, Cruz returned to Annapolis and joined the staff at the US Naval Academy where he served as an Admissions Officer and Congressional Liaison Officer. In 1986, he accepted a commission in the US Navy Reserves.
Cruz has held numerous operational and staff positions in the special operations and special warfare areas, including multiple tours of duty within the Navy Expeditionary Combat Enterprise and Naval Special Warfare community.
His six command tours were with Navy Region Southwest Reserve Component Command, NR Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, NR Naval Inspector General 106, Harbor Defense Command 207, NR Naval Special Warfare Unit Two, and Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 206. Other assignments included tours with Naval Special Warfare Group Two, Naval Coastal Warfare Group Two, Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 210, and Naval Inshore Undersea Warfare Group Two.
While in command of NR Naval Special Warfare Unit Two, his unit was awarded the 2001 Leo Bilger Award for outstanding mission effectiveness. While commanding Harbor Defense Command 207, he twice served as Commander, NCW Forces in support of Vieques Security Operations, where the units under his leadership received the Meritorious Unit Commendation for exceptional performance.
He was chosen to attend the Senior Navy Reserve Officer Orientation Course (SNROOC). Cruz also completed the inaugural Joint Force Reserve Orientation Course (JFROC).”
Cruz personal decorations include: the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards), the Navy Commendation Medal (3 awards), and the Navy Achievement Medal (3 awards). He is a qualified Advanced Military Parachutist (gold wings) and Basic Diver.
In February 2010, Cruz assumed his current assignment as Deputy Commander, US Naval Forces Southern Command and Deputy Commander, US 4th Fleet in Mayport, Fla.
“As a civilian, Cruz is the Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer & Corporate Secretary for Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. a leading media and entertainment company based in Cincinnati, Ohio. He holds a master’s degree in marketing from the University of Maryland and a juris doctorate degree from The Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America,” says Public.Navy.mil about Cruz.
The brother and sister officers have always been very close. Bono said she and Cruz talk frequently, often about military topics. Proudly Filipinos, they are grateful to represent their Filipino-American heritage in the US Navy.
“The Navy has been a great place to pursue a career and still maintain the essence of who you are as an individual and a member of a particular ethnic group,” Bono said. “It’s an environment that values the different, representative groups to enhance and promote the people who are serving.” (Sources: US Dept. of Defense website, Navy.mil and Public.navy.mil)