Contributed by Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System:
Technological advancements allow people to literally be in two places at once, whether it’s for a wedding, graduation, or even a childbirth, or in Lt. Maximiliano Pino’s case, providing the last salute at a fellow shipmate’s retirement ceremony.
On Feb. 1 Petty Officer 1st Class Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW/FMF) Amber Feliciano, originally from Milpitas, retired after serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy, primarily as a Preventive Medical Technician. She, at Vista Point on Naval Station Norfolk and Pino, and he, at Combined Joint Task Force Paladin's Warrior Lounge at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. The almost 10 hour time difference and dodgy Skype connection aside, it was almost as if Pino was present in the room.
Feliciano and Pino’s families met in church while both stationed in the Hampton Roads area and quickly developed a bond that only military families can truly understand.
"We both were rotated on deployments very frequently so our families really came to rely on each other whether it was for prayer support or childcare,” recalled Pino. “For the past seven years I’ve actually served as her mentor, which allowed us to deepen our bond in Christ and in our Navy careers.”
It was because of that bond that Feliciano knew she wanted Pino to be part of her monumental day.
“My entire ceremony was devoted to my family and the sacrifices that all military families make, so it was imperative that my last salute was a representation of just that,” stressed Feliciano. “I understand the hardships endured during deployments and it truly was a blessing Lt. Pino was still able to participate in my ceremony despite being so far away. He represents all that I strive to be: devoted to God, family, and country, so although it would’ve been great to have him there with us, his deployment only helped me stress the importance of family and sacrifice that much better.”
The last salute at a Naval retirement ceremony is usually given to the retiree’s family, commanding officer or to the sideboys that are present, but Feliciano’s was aimed at the webcam.
“Receiving a sailor’s first salute is always nice, but the last one is so much more meaningful because you’re fairwelling them for the rest of their life,” said Pino. “I take it as an ultimate sign of respect and I was honored to receive it.”
Another way Pino is giving tribute to Feliciano is by having a retirement chest built for her in Afghanistan. The presentation of a shadowbox is one of the most popular traditions of a Navy retirement ceremony, acting as a symbol of the sailor’s recognitions and accomplishments received throughout their career.
“PO1 Feliciano’s career took her from her hometown of Milpitas to assignments all over the world, including stints in Italy and Hawaii. She has accomplished so much, so one of my deployment projects is to put together what I hope will be the best shadowbox ever created,” said Pino.
Now that her Navy career has ended, Feliciano is very much looking forward to spend more time with her husband, Romy, and three kids, Malia, Kayla and Tyler in Suffolk.
“I wish my future plans were to watch the San Francisco 49ers celebrate their Super Bowl victory, but there’s always next year,” said Feliciano. “I’m truly excited to see what God has planned for me and I look forward to following Him the best I can. My time in the Navy and the people I’ve met, like Lt. Pino, have taught me so much and I know, not only will I never forget them, but I’ll capitalize on all I’ve learned and hopefully continue to grow into a better person. I may not be in uniform anymore, but I’ll always be in the U.S. Navy.”