SOUTH CHINA SEA (NNS) – He’s seen eight countries in three years; however, he didn’t need a passport, and he didn’t buy a plane ticket. Instead, he rode first class on a United States Navy warship.
Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Joshua D. Borromeo, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63), considers himself something of a world traveler. Even though he is an experienced traveler, he said the eight countries are just the starting point.
“The most rewarding thing about serving as part of the forward-deployed naval forces (FDNF) is seeing places I probably never would have paid to visit, or even known about, as a civilian,” Joshua said. “It has its challenges. Being away from family years at a time is difficult. But I’ve enjoyed the experience.”
As a military child, Borromeo was exposed to travel and change early in life.
“I was born in Hawaii,” Borromeo said. “During my Father’s Navy career, I lived in Japan, New Jersey, and the Philippines.”
Now a Sailor in his own right, he finds himself following in his father’s footsteps in more ways than one.
“We’ve hit Guam, Sasebo, Japan, and the Republic of Korea so far in this patrol,” he said. “These were all places my Father travelled.”
Joshua said his own service has brought him greater appreciation of the challenges his Father faced.
“As a child, it’s hard to see past your own wants,” Borromeo said. “Now that I have experienced the Navy, I understand what he went through.”
Of course, Joshua experienced challenges of his own during his father’s career. He and his family moved to the Philippines when he was ten years old; he had to learn Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines, quickly to related to his peers, most of whom considered it their native language.
“I learned Tagalog out of necessity,” Borromeo said. “A new home is hard; a new language is even harder.”
Adapting to change quickly helped to prepare him for naval service, he said.
“I take that same approach to adapting quickly when I hit a new port. I’ve learned to speak six languages,” Borromeo said. Then, laughing, he continued, “Well, I can order food in six languages. That is what is important.”
Borromeo said the opportunity for cultural exploration that drew him to service, despite knowing some of the hardships he would likely encounter in the Navy.
“I wanted to travel, I wanted to explore outside my comfort zone, and I wanted out of the Philippines,” he said, cracking a smile. “I sought excitement.”
Borromeo said he’s found excitement, both on and off the ship. As Vice President of the Second Class Petty Officer Association, Work Center Supervisor for his division, and a watch stander during Sea and Anchor and Underway Replenishment evolutions, he says he has continually pushed himself to expand his horizons.
“It goes back to stepping out of my comfort zone,” Joshua said. “I want to learn as much as I can to be the best I can be.”
He said learning as much as he can includes keeping an open mind while travelling.
“Growing up, you encounter a lot of stereotypes about people and culture, and you accept many of them to be true,” Borromeo said. “Firsthand experience teaches me respect for these people and their cultures.”
And he’s had no shortage of firsthand experience in his 21 years of life.
“I’ve been to the Nagasaki Peace Park; I’ve seen the Seoul Tower; I’ve driven insanely fast Go- Karts in Bahrain and zip lined down a mountain in the Philippines; I walked the grounds of Pearl Harbor before I was five, swam with sharks in Dubai, and wondered at the animals of Australia; I have explored the markets of China Town in Singapore and snorkeled off the white-sand beaches of Guam, and I dove from a U.S. Navy destroyer to swim in the open waters of the Marianas Trench.”
Borromeo said he is just at the beginning of his journey.
“The more I travel, the more I realize all the world has to offer,” Borromeo said. “It makes me crave adventure even more.”
Borromeo considers travel part of his life’s journey, a path that will carry him to new horizons even after his time in the Navy.
“My dream is to one day travel to Egypt,” Borromeo said, “I want to stand before the Pyramids of Giza – that would be the ultimate destination”.
Stethem is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.