Hawaii hasn’t changed much in the past 4 years but the person visiting has…
I had just graduated college and found out that I would be leaving for OCS in August. Just because you are leaving for OCS doesn’t mean you’ll get commissioned but apparently I had a pretty good idea I was going to because instead of saving my money and preparing for the future, I took all of my graduation money and bought a one trip ticket to Hawaii with my friend Megan to stay with our friend Eryn, all forensic science students from WVU.
I pretty much emptied my bank account on the trip, to live big and travel and only did odd jobs before reporting to OCS in late August with a whopping $137.54 for the future.
While in Hawaii Eryn’s step dad was a O-6 pilot (didn’t know what that meant at the time) and we were staying at their house in Pearl Harbor. This was my first time really seeing anything military related.
I come from a small town where the only talk of war is from the veteran’s at the memorial day speech. One of the first things we did was take a tour of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, the U.S.S. Missouri, the Air Museum and the Bowfin Submarine that is there.
There is so much history at Pearl Harbor, its astounding. Throughout the week we did many things, attended a luau, attempting our luck at surfing, rented kayaks, stayed at a hostel for a couple of nights in Waikiki so we wouldn’t have to worry about getting onto base without military IDs.
We lived so freely, meeting surfers from Germany and Switzerland at the hostel and spending the night out on the beach with them. Our lives just seemed so open ended. What was the next step for us? We didn’t know but we didn’t want to think about tomorrow, it was all about today and what was happening in the next few hours.
Fast forward 4 years to December 2013. I was just about to finish my second sea tour on an amphibious ship and when I came to work in the morning it would be just another day, and I had duty. boo. We were in stand down so half of the ship was on Christmas leave. I logged into my computer and the first thing I see is 3 emails saying YOUR ORDERS ARE IN, YOUR ORDERS ARE IN. Say what?!???
Because of the government shutdown in October I was able to find out where I was going next but I had to wait for my orders to be cut. This took FOREVER. I immediately opened up the message and began reading… I’d be going to Newport and PEARL HARBOR for school. Say What?! I definitely wasn’t expecting Pearl Harbor. The class was only one week. Well okay then. I spent the rest of the day excited with the prospects of the coming months. All of it to end up in Italy, no way.
I arrived in Pearl Harbor on a Saturday and my class didn’t start until Monday so that was good news, and they’d even be putting me up at the Airforce base because there weren’t any availabilities on the Navy side. No complaining there, we all know how the air force gets treated “world class” and although I wouldn’t want to be a part of their organization I have no problem reaping the benefits of it. It turns out that my class would be on Ford Island which is where I stayed 4 years ago with Eryn’s family. As soon as I drove over there, the memories started rushing back.
Megan and I would walk around the base in the evening time and look at the Dive Tower and the Air Hangers (which still have the bullet holes in the window from WWII by the way). What a different mind set I had been in. Now, 4 years later, I have finally established myself as a professional and I was here for work not pleasure.
The second night I decided to drive down to Waikiki and I walked over to the hostel that we stayed at. It all looks the same. Right there on the beach. Walking up and down the blvd., I just felt like I was retracing my steps, the steps of times past. When I reflect on the past 4 years, so much has happened and I’ve changed drastically as a person, and I am thankful for all of it. Everything the Navy has offered to me.
Being able to come back here and see the evolution of my life over the past 4 years. Although I’m pretty sure this is the end of the road for me in the military after my next tour, I have learned and done so many things. The Navy is what has enabled me to travel as much as I wish and have an awesome blog to share my experiences. So cool.
This article appeared first on Dynamic Soarer