“I joined the Navy for a challenging career and to do work that makes a difference,” says Reginald Uy, a 23-year-old San Diego native and newly commissioned officer in the United States Navy. Uy (pronounced U-ee), completed Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island last month and, after a quick trip home to visit his family over Thanksgiving, is now an ensign at the Information Warfare Training Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Uy is not the first in his family to serve in the U.S. Navy, but he is the first to be born in the United States. “My mother was an E4 corpsman, my father was an E6, and all my uncles are chiefs,” Uy says. “As I understand it, they were recruited while still in the Philippines and then, as now, military service was one of the fastest routes to citizenship.”
While there is a history of service in the family, Uy is the first officer. “As a quiet, nerdy kid, my parents worried the military was not the right life for me. They wanted me to be a doctor,” explains Uy, which is, in part, why he attended Health Sciences High School, a San Diego charter school geared toward careers in the medical field.
“We did a lot of internships at local hospitals where we shadowed doctors and nurses. It’s not what I wanted to do,” says Uy. “I really didn’t know what I wanted to do and then one day a firefighter walked into our classroom. We were thinking, ‘Where’s the fire?’ but he was starting a fire academy there at the school.”
Uy joined right away and, in addition to learning how to enter buildings with low visibility, he learned how to march at attention and started wearing lots of equipment. “It was kind of like military training. The chief was yelling at us, but I was thinking if I have to keep doing this, honestly I don’t think I’d mind,” he remembers.
Following high school, Uy completed four years at UC San Diego studying cognitive science, while also completing an Air Force ROTC program at San Diego State University. “I was already thinking about the military but wasn’t sure of which branch,” he says.
Eventually, Uy settled on the Navy like his family and applied to Officer Candidate School, a 13-week combination physical boot camp and leadership program he completed right before Thanksgiving.
Ensign Uy is slated to be an Information Professional Officer and has committed to four years of active duty. When he completes training in Virginia Beach, he’ll be heading to Yokosuka, our primary surface fleet base in Japan.
Ultimately though, Uy admits, “I do want to be stationed in San Diego. Wherever the Navy takes me, San Diego will always be my hometown. That’s something I can say with absolute certainty.”