JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – Every two years, the world’s largest maritime exercise, Rim of the Pacific, unites dozens of nations to foster cooperation through maritime cooperation and training. This year’s exercise presented one military family with a unique experience to serve and work together.
Lt. John Pacheco, from Somerset, New Jersey, enlisted in the Navy in 1995 and five years later earned his commission through the, Advanced Pay Grade program.
Fifteen years later, Pacheco’s son, Intelligence Specialist 1st Class John Pacheco Jr., followed his father’s lead and joined the intelligence community.
Twice could be a coincidence, but three times is a trend. One year later, Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Christine A. Smith, Lt. Pacheco’s daughter, joined the intelligence community.
“It’s a privilege, and I am honored that they are following in my steps,” Lt. Pacheco said. “They really appreciate what the U.S. stands for and are proud to be a part of it.”
All three Pachecos serve as Reservists, who were activated to fill the need for more specialized personnel during RIMPAC, which involves more than 40 ships and submarines, 200 aircraft, and more than 25,000 personnel.
Their expertise in intelligence brought them to the watch floor at Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. The training and hands-on experience in the Navy intelligence field has been an eye-opening experience for the Pachecos.
“I’ve never done anything like this, and that’s what continues to drive my passion for intel,” Smith said.
Lt. Pacheco said learning new things and skills in areas like counter-narcotics is what keeps him excited about continuing to serve, but working with his children was something he never imagined happening.
Working together definitely has its advantages on a watch floor that requires 24-hour manning. Communication is key when turning over with watchstanders, and as a family, the Pachecos make it a little easier for themselves because of the trust they have for each other.
“It’s a great learning experience,” said John Pacheco Jr. “It’s easy for me to fulfill my responsibilities and duties, because I know I can rely on my sister to spend the extra time to answer my questions and provide a good pass down.”
Something as simple as diction can have a positive impact on how the fast and efficient the mission is completed.
“He already knows how to phrase things to me, because I’m his daughter,” Smith said. “So when I turn over to my brother, it’s quick because I already know how to talk to him. We’ve been succeeding during RIMPAC because of our communication.”
As RIMPAC draws to a close and the Pachecos enjoy their remaining days together in Hawaii, Lt. Pacheco reflected on their successful time served together in Pearl Harbor.
"Our working relationship is very good," Lt. Pacheco said. "When it comes to work, they are very respectful as enlisted Sailors, and they treat me as an officer." But with a smile, Lt. Pacheco jokingly added, "I wish they were that respectful at home! They are great Sailors and even better kids; serving together has honestly brought us closer."