Tuesday, June 30, 2009


This is something only I'd find interesting. I met this guy named Kidwell V. He's the first servicemember I've ever seen with a Roman numeral after their name. Also, 5th generation - impressive. The name started originally in Ireland. I never got his first name. He was at the place where we have to "retrip" the government vehicles every week. Basically, it's just a way to make sure no one takes atvantage of the government vehicles.

Okinawan Memorial Day

Once again the USO gave us another fantastic story. June 23rd marked the 64 anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa. Thousands of people from all over Okinawa came to observe the ceremony at Peace Prayer Park in southern Okinawa. There are marble slabs all over the park with each of the 240,734 Okinawans/ Japanese military who died during the battle. The prime minister of Japan was even there. I could barely see him.

The USO itself put on a small ceremony for the 14,007 Americans who also died during the battle. I interviewed the consul general for Okinawa, Kevin Maher. A consul general serves as an advisor for the state within the country they're in. They are somewhat like a diplomat.

My only problem with the shoot was that there was SO much press. There was literally a wall of press that I couldn't get through. I wish I could have gotten better shots of the prime minister. That is so great that the prime minister can visit like that.

USO Fishing Trip

I swear, the USO gives us some of our most fun news stories. They called us up and asked if someone from AFN wanted to go on a deep sea fishing trip. They decided to give the story to me. It was a very early Saturday morning for me. Fishing is fishing, it's slow going. It's not a high energy sport. Even though we were apart of a fishing tourament the fish wern't in a rush to be caught. The goal was to catch the BIG fish like Marlin.

The USO chartered the boat and had 2 servicemembers from each service on board (The Marine's thankfully didn't show up, the boat seemed crowded enough to me already. We had a local Okinawan fisherman take us out and show us how to deep sea fish. It was a new experience for nearly everyone on board.

Sadly, I never did get a picture of the fish that we caught that morning. It was about 28 pounds they guessed.

During the 16 hours I was out on the water I was tossed around while trying to get good film shots for the news story. I even did my interviews on the boat. With all the rocking of the boat I thought my news story would be a mess. I never did get sick though. I took some medicine before I went out on the boat. I did sleep a lot during the trip. They had a little cabin. I don't think I got enough sleep or maybe it was just all the energy it takes your body to keep itself upright on the water.

My news story turned out to be wonderful. Everyone at the USO loved the story too. I even got a nice shot of the fish flopping on the deck.

Eat Fresh

At my job I get to hear about when all the events, concerts and celebrities will be stopping by Okinawa. When I hear Jared was coming on island I really wanted to see what he looked like in person. I stopped by the local food court for lunch and there he was. I forgot he was going to be at THAT food court THAT day. I'm just lucky, I guess? He seemed pretty nice. I asked him what it was like to see himself everywhere and he says it doesn't even notice it anymore. Subway is my favorite restaurant. I can only imagine how much money my mom spent on all the Subway I ate after my swim meets during high school. Haha.

Leads and Tags

At AFN we make 2 minute-long TV news stories. The story itself is about a minute and twenty seconds. In order to make it a total of two minutes we include a opening and closing title that says, "AFN Okinawa" with some catchy music. Most of the time is taken up by doing something we call leads and tags. Leads and tags are the way we open a news story. The person doing the lead introduces the story to the audience and then finishes with "[INSERT NAME HERE] takes us to [INSERT PLACE] where [WHATEVER IS GOING ON]. It's a lot easier to write leads and tags then deliver them, that's for sure. Note: The remote control looking device in my hand is what scrolls the teleprompter.

Although I've been in Okinawa for about 9 months now, I'm now just starting to do leads and tags. It's fun, but challenging. You have to stand perfectly still, while reading off a teleprompter and BLINKING. Since I concentrate on the words I forget to blink. It ends up just looking very creepy. Haha. I'm learning and that's what's important. I'm doing more and more news stories every week. It's a lot more fun filming news stories than commercials.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Zamami Island Trip

For Memorial Day I went out with a bunch of people from my church, the Harbor http://www.okiharbor.com/ on a Memorial Day Weekend trip to Zamami Island. Zamami Island is a hour and a half ferry ride from the port in the capitol city of Naha.

We left early in the morning, but had to wait around awhile to get on the ferry. The church filled up two crates full of camping gear. I only brought my backpackers bag with my snorkel gear attached with none other than boot socks. Haha. I even thought to bring my pillow with my sleeping bag. Amazingly it fit in my bag! It's the same bag I took with me to England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. It'll be the bag I bring to Australia and New Zealand when the time comes.

My church has services on Fridays and Sundays. I always go on Friday's so I never see the Sunday people. On this trip I met a fellow Marine named Anthony. The way he told it, he never has a chance to take a nice trip. His goal was to spend a lot of time on the beach and in the water. I was looking forward to snorkeling.

We walked to the campgrounds, which was about a 15 minute walk. Anthony came up with the bright idea to just sleep on the beach. Neither of us had tents and both of us didn't feel like bugging anyone for extra space in theirs. What's the worst that could happen? Rain?

Anthony and I set off to a beach on the other side of the island which we heard had a lot of fish and beautiful coral. We talked up a hill that had high fencing to protect against rockslides. It reminded me of Jurassic Park. We got to the beach, put on our gear and started swimming towards the island in the distance. It was a good swim, but I'm still not a big fan of salt water. The water was devoid of life. The coral was black and only in certain places. I don't know where all the fish and beautiful coral was but we sure missed it. When we finished swimming we were thirsty, but we forgot to bring water and yen (Japanese currency). We walked all the way back to the port dried out and nearly dehydrated. We ended up drinking out of a sink. Haha. Gotta learn your lessons while you're young, right?

When we got back to camp they were preparing dinner. After dinner the pastor, Mark, gave a message. Afterwards, they baptised a few from the church in the sea. Talk about a memorable baptism!

That night I crawled into my sleeping bag hoping for the best. I woke up at 4:30am to drizzle. My sleeping bag was waterproof, thankfully. I listened as the drops beat on the bag. Soon the rain began to downpour. I felt as my pillow become like a sponge soaking up the rainwater. I was up at 5am. Thankfully, it was going to be a long, fun day.

Soon the rain stopped and I began drying my things, including putting my pillow in a tree and hanging the sleeping bag on a branch.

For lunch we went into town and found a nice resturant that had delicious rice balls stuffed with pork. After lunch we jumped in a kayak. I have never been kayaking and I was so afraid to tip the kayak and break my camera so I emptied all my pockets. No pictures. Haha. Anthony kayaked one way to a nearby island and I paddled back just in time for dinner. We had great chili and different people from the church stood up and read the Bible verses that were touching their lives at the moment.

After a few too many s'mores I went to bed under an awning this time. Go figure, it didn't rain that night. I woke up early the next morning again. I wondered around camp and then packed my bag up again. Throughout the morning people were packing their things up and taking apart their tents. I helped wherever I could. We loaded everything into a cargo truck and brought it down to the port, unloaded it, and packed it into two cargo crates. I went off into town again to get lunch back at that same resturant. I really liked the food. They had like 2 other resturants I saw, but one was just a fried take out place. The other was never opened when I looked. I also bought myself a Zamami t-shirt, but turns out the Zamami part of the shirt is on the back. It looks like I'm just wearing a plain white t-shirt.

We got on the ferry and I went right to the sleep room. A carperted area to lay down in and take a nap. I was about to fall asleep when this Australian girl (who I heard earlier packing) and her friends all sat down next to me. Curiousity got the better of sleepiness and I started talking to them. The redhead's name was Nigel. He and I stayed up talking about his traveling adventures while the others slept. They came to Okinawa to scuba dive and bicycle around the island. They kinda just randomly met each other along their journies and started traveling together. I really liked the story he told me about how he needed money in Indonesia and wanted to be a English as a second language teacher but he didn't have any college so he found one of those websites that sells college degrees. Sure enough, the school took it. Haha. He also told me about a few run ins he had with trouble around the world. Also, he told me to remember the island of Dominique. Not the Dominican Republic, but a small island in the Carribean that is untouched by tourists. He said it's his favorite place on Earth and this guy has traveled. There was also a Dutchman and another Canadian who was fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. Meeting travelers just makes me want to forget all about a career and just backpack the world in search of new adventures.

The trip was amazing and the most fun I've had on Okinawa so far. I hope to go on more camping trips like this in the future. I just really need to remember SUNSCREEN... okay well I did remember it on my face, arms and legs... I need sunscreen on my back for snorkeling. Also, I'll never forget water ever again.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

December through May Recap

It's funny. I had 60 posts and then I suddenly stopped posting on this blog. I even haven't been taking as many pictures as I should. It's been 5 months since I've written anything here. So I decided since I've actually been doing some interesting things I'd start posting again. My grandma keeps telling me I should keep a journal of the things I do. It's true. It makes me wonder how much of my Okinawan adventures I'll really remember years from now. So here's 5 months of my life recapped: Enjoy.

I spent Christmas here in Okinawa. Malta managed to get a small Christmas tree from the thrift shop. He ended up not liking it so I bought it from him, light bulbs and all. The family sent out gifts, but it was odd to not be around family. I even managed to get home after boot camp.

In late January my grandfather passed away and so I got a Red Cross message to go home for his funeral. He had complications with prostate cancer. I will miss his encouraging words. He always told me how important college was. I always tried to make him proud. Now I'm 7 classes away from an associates degree. My grandpa had always wanted to be a teacher, but couldn't because they didn't make enough to support my grandma and his 3 daughters. Now I want to become a teacher. I'm making his dream my reality. I was glad to see all my family together again, despite the circumstances.

College has been fun so far. I've taken an ancient history class, a writing class and a library research class. Next up is biology. Half of my degree is taken care of because of things I've done with the military. My whole goal is to get my associates by the time I leave the military. Extremely possible.

I've been getting more involved with church. One of the chaplin's on Kadena had a trip going to a place called Okuma. Okuma is a wonderful camp ground up north with beautiful beaches, a nice little restaurant and a lot of water activities along with go-karts, putt-putt golf and bicycles for rent. The group of us that went spent the night in these nice little log cabins.

I've been making a few Airmen friends around the dorm. One of them is a guy named High. High really likes photography and movies. He and a few other airmen from the dorm went out on a photography shoot at the same place my work had their Christmas party - the local botanical gardens. I ended up with a bunch of great pictures.

At work we've also also combined the production and news departments. That means every week I'm shooting news stories. I like the work. I've done shoots from elementary school children playing a recycling game for Earth Day to going up in the air with a KC-130 air refueling aircraft. I'd post pictures but my computer is being screwy and won't download pictures from my e-mail. One shoot I went on that I really liked was at the new general store they are building across the street from my barracks. We got the grand tour of the work in progress. It'll be massive. The 2nd largest as far as military bases go.

April 15th I had my 20th birthday. 20 is the legal age for drinking in Japan. Malta and I celebrated with cake and a bottle of wine at the local Italian restaurant on Kadena. Age is a funny thing. I'll be 21 by the time I get to my next duty station though. Good ol Okinawa. Too bad I'm not much of a drinker. Once in awhile is all. I don't get the falling down drunks. Too expensive. I guess I'm just cheap.

I was also recently reunited with my buddy AJ. He was the other guy from my school who joined the military same time I did. I convinced him to join. He went to boot camp before me because I wanted to go on my trip to England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland along with the trip to South Carolina and Florida. I ended up being counted as one of his sign ups or whatever it's called. He got a book bag for it. Haha. Anyways, he went reserve infantry and recently just went on an assignment which just so happened to have a stop in Okinawa for a couple weeks. I went up and saw him and got to see how the infantry Marines lived. I got to see him for about 2 hours before he was recalled because of some trouble. Too bad about it though. I wonder when the next time he and I will run into each other again? Seems to always lead to a good story!

Sorry for not keeping up with the blog. I've been having a lot of people ask me about why I stopped. This is one of the few ways people can know about how I am doing so far from home. Thanks for reading. I'll see if I can get some more frequent updates