Daily life of Okinawa Marines during COVID-19 pandemic

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Ricardo Casarez, the passenger travel office noncommissioned officer in charge with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific – Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler executes pushups in his barracks room April 27, 2020, on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan. Casarez coordinates flights for Marines as they change duty stations, or go on a temporary assignment duty and is a native of Montclair, California.(Photo by Lance Cpl. Brennan J. Beauton)
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Ricardo Casarez, the passenger travel office noncommissioned officer in charge with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific – Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler executes pushups in his barracks room April 27, 2020, on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan. Casarez coordinates flights for Marines as they change duty stations, or go on a temporary assignment duty and is a native of Montclair, California.(Photo by Lance Cpl. Brennan J. Beauton)

Daily life of Okinawa Marines during COVID-19 pandemic

by Lance Cpl. Brennan Beauton
Marine Corps Installations Pacific

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan – The daily lives of U.S. Marines have seen drastic changes following the recognition of COVID-19 as a global pandemic March 11. Marines stationed aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler have implemented teleworking as a way to practice social distancing and combat the spread of the virus.

Teleworking is defined as working from home while maintaining contact with colleagues, customers or a central office.

With these new rules and regulations, the work life, social life, and home life of Marines in the barracks deviates from life before COVID-19.

Marines assigned to the Distribution Management Office on Camp Foster have an especially unique and difficult task amid the outbreak.

DMO Marines are tasked with booking flights for temporary assignment duties and permanent change of station orders, as well as moving all of a Marine’s personal property during those times.

With the Department of Defense’s travel ban affecting Marines and sailors on Okinawa trying to move to and from the island, the DMO Marines who are teleworking, take on constant work.

Lance Cpl. Amanda Martinez, a personal property clerk with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific - MCB Camp Butler said communication is the most challenging aspect of teleworking during this outbreak.

“We are used to face-to-face interactions, but we are having to call and email members and they’re teleworking as well,” said Martinez. “It has been taking a little bit longer as far as documents being signed and information being sent back and forth.”

While teleworking is an effective way to combat the spread of the virus, it hinders the DMO to operate at its full potential.

“Half of our staff is in office and half of the staff is teleworking at the barracks so we're trying out a bunch of things to figure out the best way to communicate with our members and our team to make mission,” said Cpl. Ricardo Casarez, the passenger travel office noncommissioned officer in charge with H&S BN, MCIPAC – MCB Camp Butler. “Regardless, we continue to work as a team in order to adapt and overcome COVID-19.”

Not only has their job been affected, but their daily duties as Marines and the uniform they wear.

“We are now required to wear masks, it’s become a part of our everyday carries for us, and we are required to maintain social distancing which are both not part of our daily routines but it has become a norm for Marines,” said Casarez, a native of Montclair, California.

Even the Marines’ physical training schedule has been altered, but it does not stop them from working out however they can.

“We used to PT every day, now it’s all on yourself to maintain your physical fitness,” said Martinez, a native of Sante Fe, Mexico. “It is kind of hard because of the gyms being closed, but a lot of us are just running every day, and do what we can with what we have. We are just adapting and overcoming to still be ready to fight if we have a calling.”

III Marine Expeditionary Force announced Health Protection Condition Charlie Plus, which entails off-base liberty becoming prohibited. However, the Marines still see a bright side of things during these difficult times.

“Due to COVID-19, Marines [are not] able to execute liberty off base and enjoy the island, I think it’s brought comradery within units,” said Casarez. “It has definitely brought that feeling of being close for us. I believe it has made us more united than we have ever been.”

Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Flipboard: Stars and Stripes Community Sites

Looking to travel while stationed abroad? Check out our other Pacific community sites!
Stripes Japan
Stripes Korea
Stripes Guam

Recommended Content

Around the Web