Reeves: Reflection on my time spent in the U.S. military

James Reeves, Guest Writer

James Reeves is a Veteran of the United States Marine Coprs and is currently a Wilkes University student.

My 13 years in the United States Marine Corps can be described in one word, exhilarating.

Every time I got the chance to deploy was a whole new journey in life.  From the day I went to recruit training in San Diego, CA to the time I received my DD214 (official paperwork allowing separation from the military) I was always excited and anxious to see what was around the corner.

For instance, when I deployed to Iraq for the first time we were going out to do fortification for the Forward Operating Bases and I actually got attached to Recon (intelligence gathering) and got the chance to sweep for caches.

Most people would look at that and think I drew the short straw, but tell me would you rather build things or play with explosives?

That’s what I thought.

Also in my 13 year service I got a chance to visit over 15 countries and have been to every state in the U.S. except Wyoming and the Dakotas.  I know for a fact that most of the people that I graduated high school with haven’t even left (my home state) of Texas.

I spent an extensive amount of time in Japan.  I learned the local language and became known as “Geijin” or foreigner in Japanese.  They called me this because they were always surprised to see an American speaking their language.

I was on the southern Island of Okinawa where I actually got a chance to learn the local Okinawa Hōgen, language.  I became friends with the Okinawan mayor, because he was wanting to learn English and I wanted to learn Hogen. We would meet up with each other and he would speak to me in broken English and I would speak to him in broken Hogen.

I feel that my time in Okinawa was the most memorable because I actually got out into the cities and met people instead of just sitting on the base and doing nothing.  I also learned a lot of history while I was stationed there.

One of the most crucial battles in WWII took place on this island.  When you go on the battle sites tour they will show you caves where the Japanese would take the Okinawans to be executed as well as getting to see the old machine gun nest sites.  It was very educational from a military standpoint.

It is one of the many reasons I am thankful for the experiences the military provided me.