Saturday, July 28, 2012
Postman Bob's Arrival on Kwajalein
I remember arriving on Kwaj in August of 1991. I knew little of the island, or the atoll, or of the Marshall Islands, except for stories repeated by my parents who had close friends who lived on Kwaj a decade or so earlier. However, being a fairly new government employee (of U.S. Army Missile Command at the time) I recognized the opportunity as being a golden one, not only for the so-called paradise, but hopefully for career advancement.
The travel, arrival and orientation process (at the time) was rather unorganized, but USAKA and SMDC civilian personnel offices helped me through it. I flew from Huntsville, AL to LAX to Honolulu and spent a few vacation days on Waikiki before heading to Kwaj via Hickam Air Force Base. Waikiki was awesome and I highly recommend staying at the Outrigger Reef for a few days. The flight out of Hickam was on an Air Force C5A, a HUGE cargo transport plane, which was cold, uncomfortable, yet exciting at the same time. A box lunch was provided during the five-or-so hour flight.
Descending onto Kwaj was unbelievably memorable. Oh, how I wish I would have had a camera in my carry-on. Many of the surrounding atolls could be seen on the descent and the peripheral view of landing on Kwaj was as equally unbelievable. The bright aqua lagoon encapsulated by the islets and then by the surrounding, deepening and darkening ocean drop-offs were truly scenes to behold.
Upon debarking, when exiting the plane onto the tarmac, the rush of humidity welcomed me as if I were arriving on vacation in the Gulf of Mexico on my many vacations in the U.S. I knew I was home.
The on-island orientation and in-processing at Bucholz Airfield was quick and enjoyable, as was meeting my sponsor and being escorted to my residence, a silver-metal trailer which sadly no longer exists.
After settling into my quarters, I borrowed a co-worker’s bike and spent three hours driving around the entire perimeter of the island. Again, I knew I was home.
There will be more to follow on these blog posts and how the acclimation process was so special to me.
Yokwe... Postman Bob