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Tie the yellow ribbon to one of our own.
 
The Navy on Monday released the names of the 24 members of the crew of the EP-3E Aries II electronic surveillance plane that landed in China after colliding with a Chinese fighter jet. 
 
What is EP-3E Aries II?
 
The P-3 Orion is the US Navy's long-range maritime patrol and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft, and also serves in the navies and air forces of several other countries. Some have been adapted to Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) collection and special reconnaissance roles. It is a turbo-prop plane that the Navy had since I joined the Navy and that many many moons ago. There is no way that it could catch up with the downed Chinese jet plane or initiate contact. It is just a slow lumbering giant plane.
 
The crew are members of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One, based at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Wash.
 
There are currently about 14,000 Filipino-Americans in the US Naval forces and one of them is Aviation Electricians Technician 2nd Class Ramon Mercado, USN, who was onboard is from:
Moreno Valley, California
County: Riverside County
Location: 33:55:34N 117:12:37W
Population (1990): 118779
Elevation: 16 feet
(Note: I verified the Filipino ethnicity of Ramon with the Bureau of Personnel of the Navy)

Another Filipino-American family on the news spotlight  as the breaking news is unfolding.

His mother Josephine is pictured on:

http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/04/03/us.china.react/index.html

Elswhere his father Ramon Mercado Sr is mentioned.

``Whatever China wants from us, asking us to do for them, they should not choose these people as a pawn,'' said Ramon Mercado Sr. of Mereno Valley, Calif., father of 23-year-old Ramon Jr., an aviation electronics technician.

``I hope they realize that they're playing with the lives of respectable crewmen,'' he said. ``Do not use them for political purposes.''

 

If any families of the 24 crew members being detained on Hainan Island have misgivings about their loved ones' mission, they're keeping that to themselves.
     "I know my son is so strong. I'm proud of him," said Josephine Mercado of Corona, the mother of Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Ramon Mercado. "He loves his country, and he's ready to die for it."

 

When the USS Pueblo was seized by the North Korean years ago the Filipino crewman onboard got more than his share of beatings partly I think because they thought he was a Korean. I just hope that the same thing here won’t repeat

Related Navy Veterans story:

The provision, part of a broad veterans' benefits package, passed on a 417-0 vote. It makes retroactive to Oct. 1 an increase that had been scheduled to take effect April 1. Under the measure, which still must be taken up in the Senate, maximum death benefits rise by $50,000, to $250,000.

The aim of the retroactive provision is to cover families such as relatives of the USS Cole victims, who were killed during an Oct. 12 terrorist bombing in Yemen.  This is a big consolation to the families of the two Fil-am sailors who died during the attack.

 

Nestor Palugod Enriquez

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