Marine, family head home stronger, closer after 3 years in Iwakuni
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- For accompanied Marines, the average duration of an overseas duty station is three years. The transition from the U.S. to a foreign country can be difficult and even more so for a family.
Gunnery Sgt. Antony Simmons, an engineer equipment chief with Combat Logistics Company 36, received orders to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, directly after a wedding and a newborn.
Simmons executed his orders in May 2012, bringing his new family with him.
“I didn’t choose to come here, I didn’t really want to come here, but I’m one of those guys that take it as it comes,” said Simmons. “I always enjoy a challenge and this was a new experience for me.”
Although Simmons is trained to adapt and overcome, his new wife found the transition a little more difficult.
“We got married right before we came to Iwakuni so this was my first (permanent change of station),” said Sirica Simmons, Antony Simmons’s wife. “It was a drastic change. I had to leave everything and everyone I know behind, but I knew what I was signing up for.”
Sirica Simmons added that the move to MCAS Iwakuni presented new challenges but in the end made their relationship stronger.
“When we got here we didn’t have our normal support system to lean on so we had to lean on each other,” said Sirica Simmons. “We were still finding our way as a newly married couple and I was still finding my way as a new mother.”
Antony Simmons, however, is not new to the parenting world but, with the move, was unable to visit with his two daughters from a previous relationship.
“Family is very important to me and, being in the military, I don’t get to see them as much as I would like, especially over here,” said Antony Simmons. “I’m excited to be a lot closer to my daughters and see them in person and not just on Skype.”
Enlisted in January 1998, Antony Simmons recently reached 17 years in the Marine Corps and says he is happy with where he is at right now. Upon completing his tour in Japan, Antony Simmons is ordered to report to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
“There are definitely some great things about being stationed in Japan that I’m going to miss like the food, the dialect and the people here are wonderful. You don’t get a lot of opportunities to experience all of that,” said Antony Simmons. “I’m excited to be going back home though. You miss so much in the military, and that’s made worse while you’re overseas, but that’s one of the sacrifices you make to serve.”