Saturday, July 16, 2011

Phillips - 5 in Japan Week 1 - Change of Command Week

WOW - what a whirlwind week this has been!  We kicked it off with the change of command ceremony on Monday morning at 0900.  The picture above is me assuming command and taking the squadron guidon from my new boss Colonel Griffin.  Behind us is the outgoing commander Greg Whitaker...he and his family truly gave us the best welcome we've ever received, and they left us a squadron that is in great shape and well prepared to complete their mission.

We have gotten to know quite a few people already, and it looks like we are going to have a really fun couple of years at Misawa.  The other Support Group Squadron Commanders are a pretty close knit group that we have already integrated with.  We hung out with all of them our first Friday in town and had a great time (i.e., closed down the bar).  The girls are loving life over here too...Megan compares it to living in 1950's America - no crime, you don't have to lock your doors, so the girls have A LOT more freedom than they have ever had.  In addition, there are lots of kids in the neighborhood close in age, so they are usually out and about until well after dark.

Thursday we received our household goods...and timing is everything.  There are lots of people that have been here since March and still don't have their stuff...including Jeff's new boss who shipped their stuff the same week we did.  So we have spent the last several days unpacking, and while the house is small, there is LOTS of storage and it looks like everything is going to fit.  The picture above is of our new house...we will post some of the inside once we get everything unpacked.

Jeff's first week as commander was also a lot of fun...he is thoroughly enjoying it.  He spent most of the week completing a squadron immersion and learning about all the different responsibilities the different shops have.  The highlight of the week was getting to inform two people that they were selected for promotion to Master Sergeant.  We brought their families in and surprised each of them, it was a great day for them and for the Air Force.  On Wednesday Jeff turned the big 4-0, and we celebrated at the softball fields with the 35th Comm Squadron (a.k.a. The COMM ROCKERS) bringing home the win 14-4.  The week finished with one of the Lieutenants in the squadron pinning on Captain, so we attended the ceremony then headed home to unpack more boxes.  The squadron has done a first class job of welcoming us into their family.  The pictures above are of the 35 CS Headquarters building where Jeff's office is and one of him standing next to the sign out front.

Saturday we ventured off base for a while...our second such excursion...last week we got lost for about an hour or so, but fortunately we found our way home.  This time we went to the Shimoda Shopping Mall about 10 miles or so from the base.  It actually was not too much different from any mall in America except that all the signs were in Japanese...go figure.  Some of the stores also ran together a little bit, so it was often difficult to figure out which store you were in.  The prices were also a little the pet store, Golden Retriever's were selling for 128,000 Yen, with today's exchange rate, that is roughly $1,760, so we passed on a new puppy...not that it was going to happen anyway.  We did find a theater in the mall that is showing Harry Potter in english, so Jeff is taking the girls back tomorrow to see that.  The first two pictures above are of the outside of the mall, the next is of the girls next to Colonel Sanders...yes they have KFC in Japan, and the last is of an interesting find in the 100 Yen store.  They sell bottles of compressed helium called "voice performance enhancer."  You can see from the pictures on the bottle exactly how to inhale the product.

Overall we had a great first week, and it went by WAY too fast.  This week the new Squadron deputy commander arrives, and we are going to try to give he and his family as good of a welcome as we received.  The last couple of pictures are of our new vehicles (it is great not having car payments).  Megan's Honda Odyssey is on the left, in great shape for a 1995 - only 21,000 miles.  Jeff's "COMM ROCKS van" is on the right...the van is a squadron icon and has been driven by the last four 35 CS commanders.

That is all for this week...Phillips - 5 out!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Phillips-5 has Japan!

So, since leaving Alabama on June 15th, we have been on the road pretty much non stop.  Our first stop was for dinner in Marietta, GA where we had dinner with Laurie (Megan's friend from high school) and her husband Jared.  Next stop was an overnight stay with the Morgan clan in Apex, NC.  Unfortunately we had to leave bright and early the next morning to meet the person who bought our Jeep Wrangler in Manassas.  We stayed in Manassas and visited friends and family until June 22nd. On our way to NY we stopped at Ft. Meade Maryland and watched the Tyler family assume command of the 315th Network Warfare Squadron.  Our first stop in NY was in Fulton to visit Jeff's mom and her side of the family.  We left the kids with Nana and went to the Turning Stone Casino to celebrate our 15th anniversary.  Before we left NY, we attended a big farewell party at Aunt Chris and Uncle Dave's cabin; we got to say good bye to lots of family.  Next stop was Norwich to visit Jeff's dad, Jayne, Sara, Grandma Phillips, and his brother Brian and his family.  We were able to make a quick trip to Sidney, NY to see our best man, Jeff Kirk, and his family, and also saw Jeff's high school friend Gretchen and her family.  We left NY on 28 June and headed back to Virginia.  On the way, we stopped to visit the Kreisel's in Annapolis, we spent the 29th with the Arehart's and the Tartan Hills crew, then spent the next couple of days making sure the girls got to see some of their Virginia friends to include the Seigel's, Chlebowski's, Adams', and O'neal's. On 1 July we left for Seattle; after moving 5 people and 10 bags across the country, we were pretty whooped, but rested up and spent an amazing day exploring Seattle.  On 3 July we had a 3:15 am wake up call to get to the airport and catch our flight to Japan.  After a relatively uneventful 10 hour flight, we landed at Misawa AB on the morning of July 4th.  We had the best welcome of any assignment during our 18 years in the Air Force.  We spent the last week getting acquainted with the area and the new job, to include about an hour "getting lost" to find our way around our new town off base.  Tomorrow is the change of command ceremony, and we promise to post pictures soon.  Thanks for following our journey and we look forward to your comments and questions.