I never knew that choosing my CACI mentor, former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) and Executive Director of the CACI Leadership Program Joe Campa, would lead me to Japan. Mr. Campa asked me to accompany him on his trip to learn first-hand what it’s like to be a leader.
I want to thank him and the Navy Hospital Corpsmen in Yokosuka for making my trip so amazing. I not only got to experience the great country of Japan, but also got to meet some of our US Navy sailors who all treated me with great courtesy. I have such admiration for our Navy servicemen and women around the world.
The flight to Japan was long, but the people around me were very nice. The woman sitting beside me actually brought her dog with her in her carry-on bag. When we arrived at the Narita Airport and got through customs we were greeted by Master Chief Randy Pringle, Chief Mack, and 1st Class Petty Officer Ramirez. On our drive to the Gateway hotel in Yokosuka I got to experience driving on the left side of the road for the first time. Definitely something I’d have to get used to!
Friday was jam packed with Navy events. We started off the day with breakfast with some junior hospital corpsmen. The Navy Hospital Corpsmen are a vital part of the Navy and have helped save numerous soldiers' lives. At the end of the breakfast Mr. Campa gave out military coins to each of the young sailors to thank them for their great work. Afterward, we met with the Captain and Commanding officer of the Navy Hospital, Captain Pachuca and Master Chief Pringle. We then attended a birthday ceremony celebrating 113 years of the Navy Hospital Corpsmen.
Following that I was given a tour of the Blue Ridge Navy ship which was an amazing experience. We met the captain, and Joe gave the All Hands call to the entire crew congratulating them for their excellent service and answering questions about his time with the Navy.
That night we went out to an authentic Japanese Restaurant called Wan Restaurant. It was a unique experience for me. Before going in everyone had to take off their shoes and put them in a small drawer. We then sat on the ground with pillows and had a delicious meal. I even was able to use chop sticks without looking completely incompetent. Afterwards a few Navy sailors and I explored the city and the night life. There is no tipping in Japan. In fact, if you leave a tip some people will chase after you to give you your money back!
Saturday Joe and I went to a Japanese restaurant for lunch and had a delicious meal. The waitress did not speak any English so we had to point to the pictures of the food to order. Afterwards we checked out the Navy Exchange shop and bought some souvenirs. Joe was asked twice for his photo by Navy sailors. He really is a rock star here. That evening we attended the Navy Corpsmen ball at the Mercur hotel in Yokosuka to celebrate its 113th birthday. Mr. Campa was the guest speaker and gave a great speech honoring the corpsemen. It was an outstanding event and a great experience.
Sunday Joe and I attended the barbecue of Command Master Chief of the Blue Ridge Navy ship. Mr. Campa’s old shipmates were there as we the first ever MCPOC of the Japanese Navy which was quite an honor. The next day we were taken to the airport and back to America.
I experienced so much on my trip. One my favorite things about Japan were definitely Chu-Hi's, a vodka flavored drink that tastes like soda. The food was outstanding as well though I have to admit at times I didn't know what I was eating. The Japanese people were so nice and polite. We in America could learn a few things. I was also amazed at how efficient everything was in Japan. It took us about 5 minutes to get through security and customs there. They also told me the DMV takes under 30 minutes in Japan. Can you believe that?
Everyone treated me with the utmost respect. I also want to state how impressed I was with all of the Navy sailors and Chiefs I met. They were gracious hosts and I feel blessed that they are protecting our country.
The respect Joe Campa received was tremendous. He is famous on base and you can tell how much admiration they all have for him. We were stopped almost everywhere we went for photos. He gave several great speeches to sailors about the importance of their service and how it can develop them as leaders in the future. You could tell everyone was ecstatic about his visit.
If you had told me a month ago I would have the opportunity to go to Japan with Joe Campa I would not have believed you. I feel truly honored that Mr. Campa gave me the opportunity to travel to Japan. I look forward to my next trip there. It was truly an experience I will never forget.