ASAN, Guam -- With 5,000 Sailors aboard, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) arrived in Guam for a port call Sept. 24.
Ronald Reagan, the flagship of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, made its way to Guam from its homeport of Yokosuka, Japan to participate in Valiant Shield 2018.
The U.S.-only, biennial training exercise is focused on integrating U.S. forces in a blue-water environment and enables real-world proficiency in sustaining the forces through detecting, locating, tracking, and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land and in cyberspace for a range of missions.
According to Ronald Reagan Weapons Officer Cmdr. Ivan Borja, Valiant Shield contributes to the readiness of the military as a whole, especially as the exercise is conducted in the Pacific region.
“It’s a complex environment where we have to be on top of our game for the training and support of what we do as a military,” he said. “We (have) got to be flexible at all times to execute the mission.”
Borja said the exercise isn’t only a training opportunity for him and fellow shipmates, but a chance to see familiar faces.
“Valiant shield is always good because we know when we do Valiant Shield, I know I’m coming to Guam. It’s always great to be on Guam. It’s always great to be back home,” he added.
Borja, along with 19 other Sailors aboard the carrier with roots to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, are taking advantage of the time they’ll get to spend with family. They, among the rest of the Ronald Reagan Sailors, will have liberty to immerse themselves in all that Guam has to offer.
For Aviation Support Equipment Technician Airman Makayla Duenas, this port call is a chance to not only indulge in her favorite local foods and activities, but to spend some long-awaited time with family.
“It feels good,” she said. “It’s a blessing to be able to come home on deployment. I’m going to go swimming, going to eat, go shopping, and just enjoy my time back home.”
Layla Villagomez, Duenas’s mother, expressed her excitement for her daughter to be home, as well as how proud she is of her daughter’s service to the country.
“I saw her earlier this year, but this is the first time I get to see her get off her ship, and see where she spends a lot of her time and works, so it’s very touching today,” she said. “We’re so very proud of her.”
Amid the ongoing exercise, Duenas believes the Sailors’ presence in the region is important.
“We’re forward deployed, so, if anything happens, we’re first on the scene.”
During the port call, Sailors will participate in nearly a dozen community relations projects at local schools, mayors’ offices, senior citizens centers and non-profit organizations.