Francisco Valencia Bernardo

September 17, 1932 ~ March 12, 2021 (age 88) 88 Years Old


“Frank” was poor kid who lived through the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during WWII, who would later become the second person of Asian descent in the history of the US Coast Guard to reach the highest enlisted ranks, (E-9) Master Chief Petty Officer.  He was so grateful for and took great pride in his 28 years of military service.  

When the Japanese invaded his village in Pampanga, he saw and felt the brutalities of war.  At age nine, school was shut down for three years. The American company his father worked for closed.  Going without food for days, he worked to help support the family of 11.   He washed dishes, tended animals, shined shoes, slept on the floor working as a live-in servant, and took any other job he could come by.  Working during the day, he paid to attend night school to complete his high school education and eventually began taking accounting courses at Far Eastern University.  

Knowing it would improve his chances for a better life, in 1955, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard.   He had no idea that with the support of Helen, his wife of 61 years, this opportunity would bear the fruit of excelling in the Coast Guard; receiving a scholarship to The Culinary Institute of America; travelling the world; meeting Pope Francis; financially supporting and sending his kids and other family members to college; playing with grand kids and seeing them graduate from college; meeting his great-grandson; meeting two U.S. Presidents--Bush & Reagan; and owning businesses, two homes, three RVs, boats, and a couple Mercedes--he loved his Mercedes.  He was making up for not having toys when he was a child!  He lived the American Dream and was profoundly thankful to God and country for creating a life full of service, and family. 

His final duty assignment from 1970 to 1983, he ran the executive dining room entertaining world dignitaries at USCG Headquarters at the Department of Transportation, Washington, DC.   Other duty stations:  CG Reserve Training Center Yorktown, VA  1967-1970, CGC Sassafras (WAGL 401) 1964-1967, CGC Arbutus (WAGL 401) 1963-1964, CGC Winnebago (WPG 40) 1961-1963, CGC Kukui (WAK 186) 1958-1961, CGC Bittersweet (WAGL 389) 1956-1958, USCG Base Ketchikan, Alaska 1956-1956, USCG Base Alameda, California 1955-1956.  His sea sickness caused him to lose 20 pounds every time he went out to sea, but he joked that it was better than being poor!

His memory and legacy live on through his wife, Helen; two children, Alex (wife Karen) and May (husband Bruce); grand kids, Matthew, Lauren (husband Paul) and Sean, and great-grandson, Cash.

He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, September 8, 2021, at 10:45 am.

Please visit for information regarding services at Old Post Chapel.


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Funeral Mass
September 8, 2021

10:45 AM
Arlington National Cemetery
1 Memorial Ave.
Arlington, VA 22211


Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington, VA


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