Before reading my post, please check-out The Navy Retention Survey, which is for all active duty Naval officers and enlisted sailors. I think that the Navy needs to change course a bit, and this survey is a step in the right direction. I have no personal connection with this survey – I’m just a concerned Navy wife.
In our family, deployment begins when I drop my husband off for his det (detachment – a field training exercise [FTX] for aviators) to Iwo Jima. He will be in Iwo for many weeks, we’ll have no communication while he’s there, and he’ll only be home for a day or two between Iwo and deployment. Iwo is 10x worse then deployment — so much so, deployment seems like a breeze in comparison. Even during the days that the carrier goes quiet during deployment-actual, I keep my spirits up by reminding myself that he’s not in Iwo.
So, today, my husband left for Iwo Jima … and deployment.
I will post photos of Iwo after he returns. He brought our fancy-schmancy camera with him this year, so, though I have photos from last year that I could post, I’ll wait until we have higher quality photos to show. The photos will be worth the wait. Iwo is wildly beautiful and pristine, and reverently hallowed ground, standing in remembrance.
I feel a lot better about his leaving this year then I did last year. Obviously, it helps that we now have a house/I am not living in the un-air-conditioned Navy Lodge as I was last year. It helps that I have friends and activities to take-up my time while he’s gone. It’s wonderful that I have already been though a deployment here and that I know what to expect. His departure this year was less chaotic because we weren’t running around buying all the specialty items that he needs for deployments out here. We have everything saved from last year, so packing went smoothly this year. We already did a run to the carrier to drop off most of his deployment-specific gear, too, so we’ll have less to transport to the carrier when he walks aboard.
We spent last night choosing hotels at the port call stops and talking to our travel agent in the States about our honeymoon. Right now, it looks like we are going to Thailand for 7 nights and Kuala Lumpur for 2 nights. We would love to go to Bora Bora, but BB would require almost 5 days of travel … precious time that we’d rather spend sipping on fancy drinks and reading good books next to our private pool at some amazing resort. No cell phone service, no wifi, and just us.
You could say that he left on a high note. We have so much to look forward to.
Fun facts about Iwo:
Iwo Jima is also known as Iwoto in Japan. Iwo = sulfur; Shima or Tou = island. So, Iwo Jima is, literally, sulfur island. This is an accurate name for Iwo, since it is a volcanic island and the sulfur permeates EVERYTHING — it’s in the dirt and sand, parts of the island have a strong smell of sulfur, the caves’ temperature increases every few feet that you move further inside due to the volcanic center, and the sand on the island is black as night — the color of volcanic rock. The island grows significantly every year due to its volcanic nature. The ships that were once wrecked many hundreds of feet from the shores during WW2 are now on the beach.
Civilians are not allowed to visit Iwo. The only year-round residents are service members in the JMSDF (Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force). Americans are only there during this period of time, and only service members who have a reason to be there are allowed to go. I would LOVE to go, but I can’t. My uncle and grandfather were there, and it would be very meaningful for me to be there.
The air wing goes to Iwo to practice landing on the boat. They practice some here on base, BUT, the jet noise is SO loud and SO continuous when they practice carrier landings that the locals vociferously complain. You would think that people would take personal accountability for moving to close to a jet base and not complain about the noise, but they don’t — whether they’re Americans or otherwise (this is a huge problem for jet bases in the US, too – people move close to a jet base and then complain about the noise. Asshats.). So, the whole purpose for going to Iwo is to get “carrier qual-ed” — essentially, to get qualified to land on the aircraft carrier during the day and at night. Iwo is a perfect place to do so because it’s hundreds of miles away from civilians.
I had a really interesting conversation with my student about Iwo yesterday morning. Hopefully we can continue the conversation some time. I am curious how Japanese people feel about WW2, the Bataan Death March, the Battle for Iwo Jima, Pearl Harbor, and other events. It would be incredibly rude for me to ask most of the Japanese people I know here, but I think that my student and I have a really good relationship so he would give me honest answers.