Flores Carries Aloha To Faraway Lands
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Regynald Flores found himself far way from home earlier this year when the 2008 Waipahu High grad participated in military exercises in both the Philippines and Thailand.
Flores is a Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class stationed in Sasebo, Japan, where he works on the USS Essex. As a part of his job as an operations specialist, Flores and his fellow sailors are involved in drills that keep the military prepared for all kinds of situations, including acting as peace ambassadors and helping out in the wake of a natural disaster.
The Balikatan 2010 exercise was conducted March 9-19 in the Philippines. Balikatan, he explained, means shoulder to shoulder.
“Balikatan helps us to build our relationship with the Republic of Philippines Navy and Marines,” said Flores, whose parents lived in Manila before moving to Hawaii. “We conduct humanitarian assistance from environmental disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes and other disasters. We also build our ARG (Amphibious Readiness Group) for future operations.”
He also traveled to Thailand to take part in the 29th annual Cobra Gold 2010, a three-week exercise sponsored by the Royal Thai Supreme Command and United States Pacific Command that is conducted throughout the entire Kingdom of Thailand.
This year’s participating countries included Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and, for the first time, the Republic of Korea.
As part of his training, Flores identified whether anything near the ship was friendly or hostile, in addition to communicating with planes and other vehicles. He also served as an escort in a NEO (non-combatant evacuation operations) exercise on the ship.
While he’s enjoying the ability to help others and travel the world, he still misses Hawaii, especially his family, his girlfriend and the food.
“They’ve always been supportive and are always there for me,” he said, adding that he especially misses local favorites like ahi poke, L & L and Liliha Bakery.
“And the spirit of the Islands,” Flores continued, “because living in Hawaii for all my life has truly been my Bourbon Place, just to relax, socialize with friends under the sun, and just live the island life to its greatest potential and my potential.”
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