PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) — Deploying aboard an aircraft carrier typically means an extended period away from family and friends. But for two brothers, deployment actually brought them closer together.
When brothers Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Ricardo Beltrano and Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class Ronaldo Beltrano, both assigned to separate commands, learned they were deploying together aboard aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), they were both excited about the assignment.
Ricardo, assigned to the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, and Ronaldo, assigned to the "Argonauts" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, are both ultimately under the umbrella of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11. That's how the Beltrano brothers found themselves together on deployment aboard Nimitz.
Born in Zambales, Philippines, and raised in Subic Bay, Philippines, the Beltrano brothers moved to the U.S. in 2006. They dreamed of becoming naturalized American citizens and obtaining financial success.
Ricardo enlisted in the U.S. Navy and graduated from Boot Camp in 2007. His first duty assignment was Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Ronaldo enlisted a year later and chose the same job as his brother, but received orders to aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on the opposite side of the country.
"I was in Virginia for eight years and then transferred to NAS (Naval Air Station) Lemoore in 2015," said Ricardo.
That's when the brothers reunited after eight years apart. Ronaldo, now an Argonaut, is also stationed in Lemoore. Neither brother ever thought they would actually get to the chance to deploy together, they said.
"I was already here in this CAG (carrier air wing) and he learned that he was in 147," said Ricardo. He remembered saying to his brother, "When we deploy, we're going to be on the same deployment together."
In a playful exchange about their careers Ronaldo said, "He followed me! Why else would he pick Lemoore?" Ricardo quickly responded, "I went to enlist first and then he copied me."
Regardless whose idea came first, the two brothers both agree being deployed together is an invaluable opportunity.
"I was happy!" Ronaldo said. "I was happy because he's going to be my liberty buddy; me and him."
"That's the plan," the brothers stated in unison.
Many of the Belatranos' shipmates question whether siblings are authorized to serve on the same ship and in the same combat zone, considering the tragic loss of the five Sullivan brothers who died during World War II.
The Sullivans served together aboard light cruiser USS Juneau (CL 52) when it was struck by two Japanese torpedoes in two separate attacks on Nov. 13, 1942. Following their deaths, the U.S. War Department adopted what was known as the Sole Survivor Policy. Enacted in 1948, the Special Separation Policy for Survivorship (Department of Defense Directive 1313.15) was designed to protect family members from the draft or from combat duty specifically if they have already lost family members in military service.
The Beltranos have no other siblings, but, per the directive, that fact alone does not exempt them from serving together overseas or in a combat zone.
Not only are the two brothers deployed together on the same vessel, but they also work the same shift. This has allowed them to reconnect and catch up on the time spent apart.
"We see each other every night and we eat breakfast together," said Ronaldo. "Breakfast is the only time that we can really sit back and share. That's our bonding moment, because he's been away for four years."
While this is Ricardo's third deployment and Ronaldo's fourth, they agree experiencing this deployment together has made a big difference.
"It's easier for me," said Ronaldo. "I get to see him all the time. We mess around and I go to their shop (VFA-154) and ask for him."
The Beltrano brothers' bond has also formed a bridge between the maintenance departments of their squadrons. It turns out a little brotherly help can go a long way.
"Sometimes when we need something done, I'll go to his shop and ask if he knows what's going on or if he has done it already," said Ricardo. "Especially if we need tools or parts, I'll go to his shop and ask if they have it or I will borrow tools."
Not only do they share resources but they've also helped other Sailors in the two squadrons get to know each other.
Despite the tragedy of the Sullivan brothers, almost 75 years later the Beltrano brothers are happily deployed together aboard Nimitz.
For more information about the Sullivan brothers visit www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/disasters-and-phenomena/the-sullivan-brothers-and-the-assignment-of-family-members/sullivan-brothers-policy-family-members.html
For more information about Carrier Air Wing 11, visit www.cvw11.navy.mil