For those of you planning a move to Okinawa soon, we hope Marie’s descriptions of the process of their travel and first months of settling in can help you with a few of the “unknowns.”  To read more of their story see links at the bottom of the post. 


It’s hard to describe the feeling of relief at having received clearance to accompany Kenny to Okinawa. We could finally breathe easy, no longer fearing we’d be separated for the duration of his tour. Then came the big move.

Newlywed PCS HHG kitchen chaos
Newlywed PCS HHG kitchen chaos

I remember it like this: a marathon, not a sprint. As a couple we didn’t have a whole lot of stuff. We were pretty good about keeping clutter to a minimum. But the painstaking process of organizing our belongings into categories made me feel as if we had more “stuff” than a king. The groups were as follows: “Non-Temporary Storage,” “Household Goods,” and “Unaccompanied Baggage.” These categories presented a new set of acronyms to add to my laundry list of military abbreviations: NTS, HHG, and UAB.

We started moving all of our NTS items into our living room. Because we were allowed only 2,000 lbs of HHG, most of our furniture would have to go into storage. Our kitchen became the designated spot for our HHG. We organized our UAB into our master bedroom. That would be the first shipment to arrive in Oki, so it included all of the clothes and toiletries we couldn’t fit in the baggage we would have on us. We gave away all of our cleaning supplies and liquids that could not come with us. This process of moving everything we owned between these three rooms became a little chaotic, as you might imagine. But by the time the movers came, I was glad we did it that way. We were able to tell one set of movers to pack up everything in the kitchen, another set to pack up just the master bedroom, and the third to pack up just the living room.

Newlywed PCS movers at work
Newlywed PCS movers at work

Sure, there were a few snags. The biggest was probably the Friday morning we were expecting the first set of movers. We were told they would be at our apartment anytime between eight and five. We waited about four hours before Kenny started making some calls, trying to get a more definite time. Then I saw Kenny’s face drop as he listened on the phone. “What do you mean, ‘they weren’t scheduled to be here,’ ” he told the person on the other end. Turned out, there was a mix-up at the booking office. They told us to expect the movers that day, but somehow the movers never got the memo. Each office pointed the finger at the other, and I never felt like we got a straight explanation as to what happened. Worse things could happen, but it was frustrating.

Newlywed PCS Empty
Newlywed PCS Empty

Those movers ended up coming the next week, just in time for us to clean the apartment and turn in the keys. Phew!

Newlywed PCS UAB for Oki
Newlywed PCS UAB for Oki

Another big relief. We were officially moved out, and our car was packed with everything we’d need from San Diego to Okinawa. (We’d be leaving the car with family before our flight to Seattle.) Passports, birth certificates, all of our important documents were in tow. For the next month we’d be driving across the country, visiting family in several states and saying our goodbyes before our port of call date. The night before we started the drive, I slept light. The move was becoming more real, and the excitement was building. It’s easy to be afraid of the unknown, but it’s a lot more fun to imagine the possibilities.

Read all the posts in this series: Parts 13, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

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  1. Reading this brought tears of joy and great memories to my eyes! After 2 tours in Okinawa we went through the same ordeal but spent the happiest years of our lives there! You will make the best memories of your life there! I can guarantee! ;- )

  2. Ash-It might be too late to do it now, but those movers need to be reported to the TMO office at the base where you were being packed up. The things you describe are a BIG NO NO! We have always kept cold water on hand and offered it to our movers. Some have accepted, some have not. We have been told by TMO and the moving company reps. at the pre-pack up inspection where they come to your house to see how much stuff you have, that by no means are the movers to ask you for food, drinks, to use your bathroom etc. I did not necessarily agree with the bathroom part because I think it would be super difficult to drive a huge truck up to the nearest gas station or wherever to use the restroom. I always let the movers know that we have water for them and that they are free to use our restroom. Most never do. As far as the iPOD, that is an even BIGGER NO NO. We were told at our last base that even if you offer to give them an item (broken or not) they are not allowed to take it. We wanted to test that out and offered a TV that we really were not taking with us to one of the movers and she refused it. In my opinion, movers that will do things like what you have described are probably stuffing their pockets as it is. Please report their behavior. Just curious, Harry, in the above comment you said you were a mover, what were the rules for y’all?

  3. I was pregnant and sick when the movers came and my husband was working. They kept asking me if I had any snacks? And If I had any drinks they could have!? One of them found an old ipod and asked if he could keep it! Moving is crazy!

  4. Wow, I am cracking up reading your post! Not because I don’t feel for you. We PCS-ed here in January from MCRD San Diego and it sounds like the same people must have set up our moves because your problems are identical to the ones we had. Waiting on the moving day, realizing no one was coming, and scrambling to figure it all out. And somehow even though this all happened to my family in January they haven’t figured it out yet and are still blaming everyone but themselves when it happens to you. Oh well, if I’ve learned anything during this move it’s that everything will all work out, or it won’t. But stressing won’t help either way. Congrats on making it through your big move!

  5. Thanks for packing your stuff ahead of time! I was a PCS mover on Okinawa during the Summer when I was in college. We’ve seen it all from U.S. size furniture moving into Okinawa temp. apartments. One time we had to move an armoire up 7 flights of steps because it didn’t fit the elevator! Needless to say the home owner was not happy with the dings! We also moved people out who didn’t bother to do any packing whatsoever. You know the show “American Hoarders”? Just like that 🙂


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