Filipina-American Becomes a Warrant Officer During Western Pacific Patrol

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kristine Macaraeg takes the oath of office during a promotion ceremony on the flight deck of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) in the South China Sea May 31, 2023. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Brett Cote)

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kristine Macaraeg takes the oath of office during a promotion ceremony on the flight deck of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) in the South China Sea May 31, 2023. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Brett Cote)

Manila, Philippines – Off the coast of the Philippines, Senior Chief Kristine Macaraeg raised her right hand and swore an oath of office during her promotion ceremony held aboard the flight deck of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752), May 31. Macaraeg promoted to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer (CWO2).

While her official promotion date is June 1, her command held the ceremony early in order to prepare the ship to pull into the Philippines.

“At first, I was like, ‘Is this really where we’re going,’” said Macaraeg. “I never thought it would happen like this. I never thought, ‘June 1st we’re going to pull in, and I’m making Warrant.’”

This port visit is Macaraeg’s first return to her home in a decade. She was born in the Visayas region of the Philippines and moved to the U.S. when she was 10 years old.

“The last time I visited the Philippines was in 2013 to see my grandmother,” said Macaraeg. “Interestingly enough, it’ll be exactly 27 years since I originally left the Philippines.”

When Macaraeg first moved to the U.S., she settled down in Donna, Texas, where her mother worked as a school teacher. Her mother wanted her to go to college to become a doctor, but Macaraeg had other plans.

“I decided to join the Coast Guard at 18,” said Macaraeg. “I had scholarships to go to Baylor and UT Austin, but I just wanted to do something different. I like helping people. [Before moving to the U.S] I was raised by my grandparents, and my grandmother liked to do a lot of community service. She would always help out at the clinics, and I was always tagging along with her. She was always doing what she could for the community, and I gravitated toward that.”

Macaraeg said the Health Services Technician (HS) rate was her passion even before her Coast Guard recruiter took her to the military entrance processing station. She spent almost two years as an unrated fireman and seaman on two different ships waiting for orders to the HS school.

“My father was an engineer on a ship in the Philippines, and I thought a little about doing that,” said Macaraeg, “but I decided to be an HS so I could help people.”

Macaraeg said she carried that passion for helping people into her current position as an independent duty Health Services Technician – an enlisted medical professional who is qualified to serve alone as the primary care provider on a ship. Macaraeg took independent duty orders in order to be co-located with her husband who is a Coast Guard Information Systems Technician.

“People may think that I did this all on my own, but I didn’t,” said Macaraeg. “I had the full support of my husband. Being the only IDHS on this boat is tough, but my husband was fully supportive and understanding. He understood that there would be times when the crew would come first, and he was very supportive of that.”

In 2022, Macaraeg applied to become a Chief Warrant Officer; she was later selected with a promotion date of June 1, 2023. When she found out she would be pulling into Manila shortly after her promotion, she reached out to a group of Philippine Coast Guard sailors who were her students from 2018 to 2021 when they attended the U.S. Coast Guard Health Services Technician “A” School as part of a partner-nation knowledge exchange program.

“They were there for medical training to see what they could bring back to their units,” said Macaraeg. “They went through HS A-school just like any other student. They were [health services technicians] in the Philippine Coast Guard. They were E-3s, E-4s and E-5s, but some already had nursing degrees, too. I was pretty excited when they came. I could talk to them in Tagalog, and it was great to converse with them. I’m looking forward to meeting up with them.”

When Macaraeg reached out to let them know she would be visiting Manila, she found out they were all stationed at the same medical unit within walking distance from the pier where Macaraeg’s ship would be berthed.

“I’m really a firm believer that things happen for a reason,” said Macaraeg. “I never thought I was going to make Warrant on a ship pulling into Manila. I would never have thought that the Philippine Coast Guard students that I taught would be at the same medical unit in Manila, and I’d be on a ship pulling in while they’re there. We think this world is so big, but at the same time it’s so small.”

Macaraeg is currently assigned to U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752), a 418-foot national security cutter capable of extended, worldwide deployment in support of humanitarian missions, capacity building, and defense missions. Stratton is operating as part of Commander, Task Force 71, U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force, and is serving as a non-escalatory presence in the region conducting collaborative engagements with partner nations and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.

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