Words of advice to anyone who ever lets the military book their flights: Prepare for misery. It took 5 separate flights and a total of ~49 hours to travel from Philadelphia to Okinawa. I hate to complain because I am extremely grateful for the complimentary flights and the fact that we didn't have to book them, however, I'm not sure most people could maintain their sanity after 2+ days of airport living.
Our flights from Philly to Chicago and Chicago to Seattle were easy enough. At this point our moral was high and we were still clean and well rested. Seattle was where this trip started to show its true colors. After arriving at 9 pm we realized that we could not get our boarding passes until 2:30 am. This was remedied by checking into the USO lounge which provided us with food, storage for our baggage, and leather recliners and couches which unfortunately we're already covered in sleeping military members. Due to the lack of space to stretch out in and the fear mongering USO employees who had informed us that people were already lined up at the AMC ticket counter (which turned out to be false) we decided to camp out at the ticket line instead. Ben and I were joined by two other 2nd Lieutenants who he met through GSOC. The four of us shamelessly marked our territory at the front of the ticket line and proceeded to fight sleep deprivation from 11 pm-2:30 am. It turns out that this bold moved ended up working in our favor, we got our tickets first and booked it back to the USO where we were able to grab a couch since everyone else was waiting in the ticket line. Unfortunately, an hour later we headed over to security because we were warned once again that it would take over 2.5 hours to get through... 30 minutes later we were left in the terminal with the realization that we had over 3 hours to kill until our flight. Fast forward to 7:30 am and it was FINALLY time to board the plan. At 7:31 the flight attendants got onto the loudspeaker and notified us that our plane needed maintaince and that our flight was delayed four hours... This is when we all started to crack. Physical and mental exhaustion started to take its toll and we slowly delved into insanity. Hours later we finally boarded our plane and headed for the Far East. Okinawa was finally on the horizon.
Our first stop in Japan was at the Yotoka Air Force base in mainland Japan. I was actually thankful for this layover for a couple of reasons. First, we were able to see Mount Fuji and Tokyo from our windows which was pretty exciting. Second, after 10+ hours on a plane I desperately needed the fresh air and third, WE WERE FINALLY IN JAPAN!
Our next stop was the Iwakuni Marine Base was towards the bottom half of Japan, from the air it looked like Jurassic park which was kind of cool. It was pouring rain though and unfortunately at military bases there are no covered ramps which meant we had to scurry off the plane in a downpour. After a quick layover and my embarrassing first Japanese meal of Doritos we were headed for our new home. Landing in Okinawa was somewhat of a blur because at this point my brain had stopped functioning after being awake for the majority of the past two days. What I will remember most is stepping off of the plane and being enveloped by thick humidity and warm air. I knew at that moment that I was finally at my island paradise.
We're Kara, Ben and baby Zoe also known as the Lesniaks. We’re a Marine Corps family currently stationed in Yorktown, Virginia after a three year tour in Okinawa, Japan. Enjoy our adventures, travels, photos, thoughts, and life together!
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