Chamorro Marines reflect on visiting home
ANDERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (Oct. 26, 2012) — Many Marines who deploy or train on exercises around the world often leave their friends and family back home to travel around the world in service to their country. During Exercise Island Fury, however, just the opposite happened for Cpl. Edwin R. Eclavea, a Marine Air Control Squadron 4 air-control electronics officer and a Sinajana native, and Sgt. Joel U. Ceria, a MACS-4 air-control electronics noncommissioned officer-in-charge and a Dededo native.
“Right after high school, I didn’t really have any goals in life,” said Ceria. “My buddy introduced me to the poolie program and I checked it out. The recruiters started talking to me and it was all very challenging. I looked more into it and released the Marine are really tough, so I decided to try it and here I am now.”
In the economy we have today, Eclavea wanted to become his own man and get out of his parents house.
“I love my family, but I needed to grow into the man I am today,” Eclavea said. “I thought about joining the Air Force, but after talking to the Marine recruiter, I found that the Marines offered more of a challenge for me,” Eclavea said. “I also had a lot of family members who were Marines. They helped me out when getting information about it.”
Leaving their homes and families for the first time was tough on the new Marine recruits.
“The transition to going to boot camp was really scary for me because I have never been to the mainland before,” Ceria said. “When I first landed in San Diego, it was really cold and really different. It was a big culture shock.”
During boot camp, one of a recruits morale building activities is receiving mail from home. Even this was a challenge for Ceria and Eclavea.
“I didn’t get mail until the middle of second phase,” said Eclavea. “Every night you would just see everyone going up get their mail during mail call, but I’d just hang back. It was really hard, but you just have to be tough and push past it all.”
After graduation from boot camp like many newly christened Marines, Ceria and Eclavea returned to Guam during leave to see their friends and family before going on to Marine Combat Training and their military occupational specialty schools.
“It was great to see everyone again and tell them about my experiences in Sad Diego,” Eclavea said. “Leaving again really sucked because I knew it was going be at least a year to a year and a half that I was going to be able to visit home again.”
After many online video chats and snail mail exchanged, Eclavea and Ceria were assigned to Okinawa, Japan, which is just a few hours flight home.
“When I was told I could get stationed in Okinawa I knew that was going to be my first choice,” Ceria said. “Even though I did get Okinawa it was still hard to see my family because I have a job to do.”
A light seemed to shine down on the Chamorro Marines when they were told where they were going during Island Fury.
“It was an incredible moment when I found out we were conducting an exercise in Guam,” Eclavea said. “Being able to do my work during the day then visit my friends and family during liberty hours is just… I can’t really put it into words.”
Many of the Marines here are visiting Guam for the first time. Eclavea and Ceria have taken their Marines to see the beautiful scenery and rich history and traditions Guam has to offer.
“We’ve been on a historic battle sites tour, gone to the mountains and the beaches, I’ve even brought a few Marines to my house for a traditional Chamorro cook out with my family,” Ceria said. “The Marines really loved it and my family was overjoyed meeting my Marines and getting to know them.”
As the exercise winds down, the Marines continue their work as usual. For two Marines, heading back to Japan will be harder than working the Chamorro heat of Guam.
“After being able to spend so much time back home and all the great experiences I’ve shared with my Marines, going back to Japan will be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Eclavea said. “I know I’ll be home again soon. I just have to stay strong for my family, but most of all for myself.”