- Associated Press - Sunday, October 5, 2014

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) - It had been almost four years since the two brothers had last seen each other.

When they did, Ivan Borja and Joseph Borja embraced and laughed.

Ivan Borja, a lieutenant commander aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, said he was surprised to be greeted by his brother and wife, Analea Borja, when he entered the flight deck last week to speak to media.

Joseph Borja was visiting Guam from San Diego for a two-week vacation when he got news that the carrier was making its way toward the island.

Before he surprised his brother on the boat, Joseph Borja shared his excitement.

“He’s going to be excited. As far as he knows, we’re still in San Diego,” he said. “He’s like my son. I nurtured him as a toddler all the way up to when he was in high school.”


Ivan Borja, the carrier’s aircraft handling officer, is one of about 5,500 people on board the George Washington. The carrier last visited Guam two years ago. Last week, it docked at Kilo Wharf on Naval Base Guam around for a scheduled five-day visit.

The ship, based in Japan, left its home port in late May, visiting Hong Kong, Singapore and another port in Japan over the span of two and a half months before pulling back into Japan for a three-week maintenance period.

It again set out to sea on Sept. 2. During September, the carrier participated in Valiant Shield 2014, a major military exercise consisting of about 18,000 service members that was conducted on and around Guam.

Joint Region Marianas has placed no restrictions on areas or businesses sailors are allowed to visit during their port call, said JRM Deputy of Public Affairs Colleen Perez San Nicolas.

Guam’s economy is expected to benefit from the thousands of servicemen and -women visiting. Sailors also will join in community service activities and visit schools during their time on island.

According to Pacific Daily News files, each visiting service member typically spends between $200 and $300 a day on the island.

Commanding officer Capt. Greg Fenton said the thousands of sailors aboard will have an opportunity to enjoy liberty and participate in community relations projects after their work during Valiant Shield.


Ivan Borja said he feels like an ambassador for Guam as he travels to ports around the world.

Ivan Borja is one of about 18 Guam sailors aboard the George Washington. He said he and the other Guam sailors find ways to celebrate their roots.

“I just made pickled mango last week ‘cause we had mangos and donne’ so it was pretty cool,” Ivan Borja said.

The former Guam resident fulfills a critical role aboard the massive aircraft carrier.

Ivan Borja is responsible for overseeing the entire flight deck on the carrier, which holds the more than 60 planes on board. Part of his job is ensuring all jets are launched and recovered safely.

“I’m pretty much the heartbeat of what goes down on the flight deck area,” Ivan Borja said.


Yesterday, it was a heartfelt reunion as Ivan Borja shared sentiments about always striving to emulate his big brother.

“I only joined the Navy because of this guy,” he said. “I’ve always looked up to him. He bought a Toyota pickup, I bought a Toyota pickup; He joined the Navy, I joined the Navy. He got commissioned, I got commissioned. He retired and I’m looking forward to my retirement,” he laughed.


Information from: Pacific Daily News: https://www.guampdn.com

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