The CNMI's highest ranking U.S. military officer on active duty, U.S. Army Col. Harry Camacho Blanco, has made the Commonwealth more proud with another promotion last week.
Blanco, a former lieutenant colonel and a former executive director of the Criminal Justice and Planning Agency, is the first to obtain the rank of colonel on active duty from the CNMI.
“I feel honored to have achieved this rank. It was my goal to at least make the rank of colonel then retire. I have been serving my country honorably since the rank of Private E-1, the lowest rank in the Army,” Blanco told Saipan Tribune in an email interview on Saturday.
He said the promotion “means much greater responsibility, dedication to duty, and to continue serving honorably.”
“I will continue to serve until I retire,” added Blanco, from Chalan Kanoa. He is the son of Juan Blas Blanco and Constancia Reyes Camacho (deceased).
Blanco, currently assigned to the U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward) as the deputy G5, was one of the first commissioned officers from the CNMI under a law allowing those from the islands to become commissioned officers in the U.S. military.
At a recent ceremony, his commanding general, Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr., promoted Blanco to the rank of colonel.
Blanco attended William S. Reyes Elementary School and Mount Carmel School on Saipan, and graduated at George Washington Senior High School in Guam.
He later joined the U.S. Army Reserve on Guam with the 368th Military Police Company as a private E-1 and attended University of Guam. He attended the SROTC program at UOG and received an early commissioning in May 1984 as an infantry officer. He joined Charlie Company, 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry and later graduated with a bachelor's degree at UOG.
Blanco received an active duty assignment with 25th Infantry Division (Light) and later with the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division, which he served with during Operations Desert Shield and Storm with 3rd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment. He transitioned back in the Army Reserve on Saipan and joined the U.S. Army Reserve Marianas, where he commanded Echo Company, 442nd (Separate) Infantry Battalion.
While in the Reserve, he worked at the CNMI Criminal Justice Planning Agency as a research and evaluation specialist and was elevated to the position of executive director.
In 2001, he got back in the Army on active duty status and served with U.S. Army Japan and 9th Theater Support Command, Fifth U.S. Army, U.S. Army South, and now with the U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward).
Last year, an official of Japan's Ministry of Defense honored Blanco for his commitment and initiative to strengthen the relationship between the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Army. In 2009, the CNMI Senate also presented Blanco with a commemorative resolution honoring his accomplishments. Blanco is one of the hundreds of active duty and reserve officers from the CNMI.