PACIFIC OCEAN (August 22, 2020) -- U.S. Navy Fire Controlman 2nd Class Damian Castillo–Sakihara, from Killeen, Texas, is assigned to Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105). Castillo–Sakihara has been a member of the U.S. Navy for more than three years and is currently underway on Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2020.
This is the first RIMPAC Castillo–Sakihara has actively participated in and is the primary Gunnery Fire Control Supervisor for the 5-Inch Gun Weapon System.
“Of course I’m looking forward to the gunnery exercises with other countries,” said Castillo–Sakihara. “It’ll be a sight to see how a coordinated firing works among multiple nations.”
Castillo–Sakihara has participated in two gunnery exercises during RIMPAC 2020 so far.
“Honestly the most major recognition I can get is seeing my two guns performing their very best. The entire ship hears and feels it,” said Castillo–Sakihara. “Whenever the ship shakes and it’s a loud boom, it’s because of the 5-inch shooting and that’s directly related to me performing my job correctly, and whenever I hear the CIWS, my primary system on the ship, sending a plethora of rounds down range it’s the same feeling.”
Serving during an international exercise has had a profound impact on Castillo–Sakihara.
“It honestly is very fulfilling, you can ask anyone and they will tell you I’m very proud of my Polynesian roots, but I have never felt more American in any day of my life than when I’m on the forecastle setting the gun up for pre-fires while we are flying through the Pacific Ocean,” said Castillo–Sakihara.
Exercise RIMPAC has special meaning to Castillo–Sakihara because of his Polynesian heritage.
“RIMPAC has a lot of meaning to me. My family, being from The Manawatu-Wanganui Region of New Zealand, has tried to instill a warrior spirit into all my family,” said Castillo–Sakihara. “So being able to carry that spirit into the Navy with me really brings me happiness and it’s also very touching to see a ship from New Zealand out here with us also carrying that Toa Mana (warrior spirit) with it.”
Castillo–Sakihara joined the U.S. Navy to continue his family’s legacy of serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
“Despite my family’s very cultured roots, my family has been serving in the U.S. Armed Forces since the Vietnam era. It only seemed natural for me to join,” said Castillo–Sakihara. “I decided for the Navy due to its opportunities for travel and brotherhood. I wanted to be part of something larger than me just like my family.”
Castillo–Sakihara has personally experienced a sense of camaraderie amongst his weapons community shipmates.
“My mother’s anniversary of her death was recent and a large portion of my department showed up for me just to make sure I’m okay and we watched a movie,” said Castillo–Sakihara. “That showed so much support for me in my time of need and the brotherhood that I was looking for when I joined the Navy.”
Ten nations, 22 ships, one submarine, and more than 5,300 personnel are participating in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) from August 17 to 31 at sea around the Hawaiian Islands. RIMPAC is a biennial exercise designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships, critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The exercise is a unique training platform designed to enhance interoperability and strategic maritime partnerships. RIMPAC 2020 is the 27th exercise in the series that began in 1971.