Sean finished his tech school on March 2, with good grades. He found out a few weeks prior that he got the assignment he most wanted: Okinawa, Japan! After an eighteen-day leave (during which he had to take care of a lot of details, including shutting down his cell phone and selling his truck), he left on the very long trip over the Pacific. We received a short “I’m here” email and Facebook post, then (not-so) patiently waited for more details.
He is assigned to the III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) in the headquarters battalion. The layout and amenities of Camp Hansen were a pleasant surprise, as were the barracks. He will have a suite-mate (the common area includes a small kitchenette without the stove), but a bedroom to himself, once he finally gets settled. When he reaches corporal (in about a year), he’s considered a junior non-commissioned officer (NCO) and will get a room or suite to himself. He’s in the best barracks on the island.
It took him about ten days to get a new cell phone and internet service organized, so we didn’t have a chance to Skype until last night. (And thank God for Skype!! At least I can see him.) The time differential (he’s fourteen hours ahead) is proving to be particularly problematic. During our “first shift” (8am-5pm), he’s asleep. During our second shift (afternoon and evening), he’s working. Then when he’s off, we’re asleep. So we’ll have to Skype on weekends or when he has an irregular duty schedule, which will almost certainly happen.
Bruce found an app so I can send him texts (not too often, I promised) to his tablet, and Sean found a walkie-talkie type app that we can use to “call” him without incurring long distance charges on either end. But probably Skype will be our mode of choice.
He jumped in with both feet. He found a couple of church groups off-base (allowed off-base with a buddy), including a Christian Center and a Baptist church. He checked out the on-base chapel and Sunday School this morning. There’s also a Single Marine Program that he and his classmate Walton plan to join. All this, plus just getting used to Marines, Japan, and new job, will keep him plenty busy.
He’s excited that he gets to take a course on driving a Humvee this month. I wouldn’t want to drive a Humvee here. He’s going to have to learn there, where the roads (and other cars) are tiny AND they drive on the wrong side of the road. At least he’s bigger. 🙂
He can see the ocean from about anywhere on the island, and it’s a beautiful turquoise. (He plans to get scuba certified while there.) A few years ago, he travelled to Shanghai on a mission trip, and he said that “Oki” (as he calls it) reminds him a lot more of China than Japan.
He doesn’t know much about his specific job yet, so we’ll find out more about that in the days and weeks to come. But he’s there, he’s happy, and he is very excited about getting going with this next phase of his life!