Bette Bolivar is one of US Navy’s Highest Ranking Females

thumb_BolivarWhen Babette “Bette” Bolivar’s father joined the navy, Filipinos like him and my father were limited to jobs like being a steward or a cook.   In an interview with the Philippine Star, she talks about the path that has lead to become a member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, explosives expert, and later, Rear Admiral.   Bolivar is currently the commander of the Joint Marianas region and the Naval forces there.    I found her story interesting in that it parallels some of my own life but diverges at key points.

Like me and a lot of other Filipino Americans of my generation, she grew up up around navy bases.  Her father, like mine, joined as a steward and later retired from the US Navy after more than 20 years.  Our paths diverged at the decision to go to college – she picked the US Naval Academy while I made a conscious decision to stay away from the military.  I did know a fair number of fellow Navy brats who also went into the Navy, but I personally did not like the personal costs to family that Navy life entails, especially having experienced it firsthand.

On the path to becoming an admiral, she had a number of hazardous positions, becoming a navy diver, and working with explosives and salvage.  She was in charge of offloading ammunition from the damaged USS Cole and had a posting in Afghanistan dealing with IEDs.  About her career in comparison to her father, she says:

“My father didn’t serve as a warrior like me. Back in those days, Filipinos, African Americans and Chamorros could only enter the service as a steward or cook. I feel like I have to give back to the Navy because they gave my father a chance.”

Bolivar’s current command includes the US Navy base in Guam (which is probably why she included Chamorros in her comment) and plays an important part of Obama’s policy “pivot to the  Pacific.”
(Photo Credit: US Navy)
(h/t: Mike)

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About Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.
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