A week or two ago, the spouses (ie. ME) were prepped for this deployment as well as the Marines themselves. Matt and I went to a briefing where they told us all about why our husbands were going to Thailand, what their mission was, how to reach them, what resources we had available to us while they were gone, etc. I really had no idea why the US Marines were going to Thailand at all, and to be honest, I still don't completely understand it and probably never will understand all military concepts, but at least now I do have a better idea of why. Apparently, Thailand is one of America's biggest allies, and we have a very good relationship with them. Marines go over on short "exercise" deployments for a few weeks (like Matt is) in order to keep up that good relationship with the Thai people and government. The Thai military actually lets our US military set up camp on their bases for those weeks. In addition to these exercises, the Marines also do community outreach throughout Thailand, almost like mission trips. This time, they are building an orphanage in a part of Thailand - these are the types of missions that the US likes to do to make a lasting positive impression on the Thai people.
So, I dropped Matt off last weekend, early in the morning, at one of the gymnasiums on the Air Force base, Kadena. It seemed like there were hundreds of Marines arriving on buses, transferring their bags into large cargo trucks, and getting in a never-ending line outside the gym. I left, not knowing when I would hear from Matt next, but sure enough, he started leaving me messages on Facebook that same night after he got into his hotel. We've been chatting on Facebook or via Skype as much as we can. He has free internet at work as well as at a free internet cafe right outside of his resort, however, he is charged by the minute for internet usage in his room, so we try to avoid that and stick to the other options. I'm sure if I were in Thailand with Matt right now, I could describe it in full detail. Since I'm not there, I'm not going to even try - I'll just share some of the photos that Matt has taken and posted online so far. He went with a different unit than his own on this deployment, and he is also in a different area of Thailand than most of the other Marines, so he didn't know what to expect. However, it seems to be turning out much better than either of us expected, and he seems to be enjoying the experience so far.
Talk to you all soon!