Military families reunite for the holiday season

Military neighborhoods get decked out for the holidays – Hannah Bailey

Being in the military is a tricky job that requires training, long nights and dedication, which unfortunately takes a lot of its members away from the people they love.

Some jobs in the military, like infantry or ground troops, require members to go through different trainings: jungle, desert, water, winter and urban settings.

These exercises send troops around the world for two weeks to six months at a time, sometimes overlapping with the holiday season.

UH student and WCC alumna Mollie Ferguson plans to celebrate her husband’s homecoming with some good old fashioned Christmas movie marathons and by baking holiday treats.

Her husband Cpl. Nathan Ferguson has been deployed for almost six months, undergoing jungle training in places like Indonesia and the Philippines.

“During our first deployment, my husband was gone for Christmas and New Years,” Ferguson said. “It was disheartening for him to be gone during my favorite time of year and being so close to North Korea. I find comfort knowing the Marines are very well trained in case they went into combat. Instead of being down about it for the whole Christmas season, I went back home to Tennessee to visit my family.”

Fortunately, Cpl. Ferguson will be home in time this year to pick out a fresh Christmas tree with his wife.

Some military members who are coming back from abroad for the holidays are making plans to go all the way home instead of staying on the island.

Lance Cpl. Teddy Lamothe is returning to Coral Springs, Fla., to see his loved ones after what will be his second deployment.

“It’s hard being away for so long, but I knew that this was part of the job when I enlisted,” Lamothe said. “So I’m just glad we’ll be able to be with our families for the holidays this year.”

Some families, however, are not quite as lucky. One Marine, William Chowanec from Colombia, Conn., will be visiting his family back on the mainland.

However, his wife is in the Navy and may not be able to join him due to their conflicting schedules.

“It’s difficult to be apart from the ones we love for so long but through the pain of distance, we actually become even closer to one another,” Chowanec said.

ReAnn VanAmburgh and her husband Cpl. Brandon VanAmburgh have been away from their home and families in Illinois for two years because Brandon is stationed at Kāne‘ohe Bay’s Marine Corps base as a radio operator.

“I don’t mind being so far away,” VanAmburgh said. “I miss the fall weather and my family, but I love the cultures and adventures Hawai‘i offers me.”

Though they’re living far from home, it doesn’t mean home can never come to them.

“I have family coming to visit,” VanAmburgh said. “Nothing special is planned for the holidays, just spending some good quality time with family and friends.”


by Hannah Bailey, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter