TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (NNS) -- If Captain Romeo (Sonny) Tizon knows anything, it’s how to embrace opportunities. Thirty-five years ago the 20-year-old held up his right hand, swore an oath, and became an E-1, seaman recruit in the United States Navy. That was in Subic Bay, Philippines, two hours from where he grew up in the city of Angeles. “It was the American dream,” he recounted. “It was my ticket to a better life.” In late June, 2019, Captain Tizon reported for duty aboard Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms as its executive officer. “When I joined the Navy 35 years ago, did I think I would ever be an XO? Absolutely not,” he said. The intervening years marks a career of distinction and dedication, and are a reflection of the man whose motto is: “Whatever you do, give it all you’ve got.”
Living that motto, Tizon graduated number one in his class both from Corpsman “A” School and Pharmacy Technician “C” School (his interest in pharmacy stemmed from his mother being a registered pharmacist). As Pharmacy Department leading petty officer (Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan), he was selected as the 1993 Marine Forces Pacific Sailor of the Year. The following year, he was a finalist for Pacific Fleet Sailor of the Year. “I was never meritoriously promoted or fast-forwarded to any rank. I had to start from E-1 all the way to Chief Petty Officer,” he said.
In 1997, Tizon was commissioned under the Medical Service Corps In-service Procurement Program for Healthcare Administration. He graduated with distinction from Officer Indoctrination School, Newport, Rhode Island, as a freshly minted ensign.
“The transition to the officer ranks was a bit difficult. But I also realized, this was a new ballgame and I was back in the first quarter,” he said. Tizon noted that his chest of ribbons was a dead giveaway that he wasn’t the average ensign.
From 2000 to 2010, Tizon held a variety of positions from Okinawa, Japan, to Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River, Maryland. In 2013 he reported for duty as the Regional Logistician and Interim Deputy Chief of Staff, Installations and Logistics Directorate, Navy Medicine East. In 2016, he was assigned as Director for Administration, U.S. Hospital Naples, Italy.
Tizon holds a Master of Science in Management from Troy University, a Master of Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Santo Tomas, Philippines.
Asked, what degree does he value most? He immediately answers, “Human Relations. Because in our line of work, even as the XO now, the majority of my work is dealing with people. You can be the most intelligent person in the world, but if you can’t deal with people, our most important resource, you can’t motivate and inspire your staff and co-workers. Often, it’s all about the human element and the relationships,” he said.
Captain Tizon lists Abraham Lincoln as one of the leaders he most admires. “When Abraham Lincoln formed his cabinet and his team of advisors, he didn’t pick people who thought like himself,” Tizon said. “He called them a team of rivals because he knew he would get varying ideas and not be stuck in group think. He appreciated Independent-thinking people. And by having this diversity of thought and ideas, he could make the best informal decisions by considering all options and alternatives and not just one frame of mind.”
Tizon’s leadership style incorporates his humanistic approach. “Take care of your people. That’s the very foundation. Because if you take care of your people, they’ll take care of each other; and they’ll take care of the mission. And if they’re happier, believe it or not, they’re more productive, and healthier; and they want to come to work. They don’t want to let their shipmates or the mission down,” he said.
Captain Tizon’s hobbies include cooking, photography, travel and scuba diving. He said he would like to be a chef after he retires from the Navy. “Not to make money, I want to be a chef for fun,” he said. He is a self-described pit master with a love for smoking meats. “But having been in Europe, I’ve been introduced to both Michelin-level Italian and French cuisine, which is very complex and rich in tradition. It’s got a lot of history, but that’s what I want to hopefully master someday,” he said.
Captain Tizon is in Twentynine Palms with his wife, a homemaker. They have 30-year-old daughter and Tizon describes themselves as “empty nesters” now.
For more news from Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms, visit www.navy.mil/local/nh29p/.