PACIFIC OCEAN -- Ensign Gemelin Lozada and Chief Hospital Corpsman Melinda Canales are a mother-daughter duo currently embarked aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), now underway for Pacific Partnership 2022 (PP22).
For Canales, who has served 19 years in the U.S. Navy, PP22 may be her last full deployment. She hopes this will be an unforgettable experience.
“One of my goals here is to make this one memorable because this is going to be my last [deployment], and this is her first,” said Canales of her daughter. “So, I am happy she is with me for this [mission].”
It is Navy tradition for senior enlisted members to mentor junior officers. For Lozada, Pacific Partnership offers an opportunity to not only serve with her mother but also gives her the chance to grow and persevere professionally under mom’s tutelage.
“Chiefs and junior officers work together anyways, but I have a double layer,” Lozada said.
“I have the support of my mom, but on top of that, she is a chief to mentor me as a junior officer. It is really nice to work within that dynamic and focus on the mission, but I feel lucky that we have each other on the ship.”
Canales said the feelings are mutual. The proud mother says she looks up to the junior officer.
“My daughter is the kind of person I want to be when I grow up,” said Canales.
“She taught me changes are good, and that change is the only permanent thing in the world, and it is okay to change your focus on something else that works for you. Look at her now, she is a nurse, and not just a nurse, a Navy nurse. I am proud of her.”
After spending her childhood moving around to various commands during her mother’s naval career, Lozada never imagined she would join the Navy herself.
“As I grew older, I appreciated the stuff that she was doing as a mother,” Lozada said. “I started to have more of an appreciation toward the military and all that she was able to provide us with. Eventually, I joined the military myself. I have so much more of a newfound appreciation for it. Joining the military was me maturing and really seeing eye-to-eye with my mom.”
The family duo will work in tandem during PP22, caring for patients throughout the Indo-Pacific Region. Lozada, working in patient care, will create connections and work side-by-side with partner and host nation personnel. Canales will ensure PP22 doctors and nurses have all equipment needed to complete the mission.
“We get to show our partners that we are here to help at any time, and I like being able to represent and show what we do,” Lozada said.
Reflecting on everything her mother has accomplished in her Navy career, Lozada says she sees her mom as an inspiration as Lozada moves forward in her own career.
“Growing up, my mom always inspired me to be a strong woman,” Lozada said. “She made it to chief. That is a milestone and breaks the boundaries. She gives me hope that I can fulfill my role as a new officer.”
Deployments mean family members must say goodbye to one another, and Sailors often miss holidays with loved ones throughout the year. This year, Mercy is deployed on Mother’s Day. Canales and Lozada consider it a unique opportunity to celebrate this special occasion together at sea.
“Unlike all of the other mothers on this ship, I get to celebrate Mother’s Day with one of the reasons I am a mother,” Canales said.
“I know this is a Mother’s Day that I will never forget.”
The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) is currently underway for Pacific Partnership 2022. Now in its 17th year, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific.