View Full Version : Despite hardships, some reservists are choosing to stay on active duty

11-27-02, 07:11 AM

Greg Tyler / S&S
Airman Lowie Devera, a reservist from San Diego, began serving on active duty at Sasebo Naval Base in November 2001. Shown here working a security shift at the main gate last Tuesday night, Devera, who is married and has three sons, recently opted to remain on active duty for another year.

By Greg Tyler, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Wednesday, November 27, 2002

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — In March, Airman Lowie Devera’s wife gave birth to Luke, their third son, in San Diego.

Devera, 30, witnessed the births of his two older boys: 8-year-old Lowie Jr. and Lance, 2. In the civilian world, the proud papa is a computer technician at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

A member of the Naval Reserve for three years, he was “mobilized” for active duty and sent to Sasebo about one month after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

He took home leave in March to be with his expectant wife, Shinya — but Luke was a bit impatient to enter the world.

“I just missed it because she had him the night before the morning I got there. But it was still very exciting that I could go and be with my family and new son,” said Devera, based as a reservist at North Island Naval Air Station, Coronado, Calif.

Despite narrowly missing Luke’s birth and contending with the separation from his family, he recently chose to sign on for another year of active duty working in security in Sasebo.

Most reservists called to one year of active duty after the terrorist attacks appeared glad to re-enter the routines of their “real lives” during the past few weeks.

But a few, including Devera and two other Sasebo reservists, chose to stay mobilized in Japan.

Fifteen reservists at naval facilities in U.S. Naval Forces Japan’s area of responsibility decided to extend for another year, said Cmdr. Peter Werp, CNFJ’s reserves liaison and also a naval reservist.

At any time, services may mobilize some units and individuals while demobilizing others, he explained. A new wave of mobilized naval reservists is arriving at CNFJ facilities to relieve those activated last year.

As of Nov. 6, a total of 51,336 reservists were on active duty in all services, according to Department of Defense statistics.

Of those, 5,517 were from the Naval Reserve, 25,306 from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, 16,087 from the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 3,725 from the Marine Corps Reserve and 701 from the Coast Guard Reserve.

About 315 Naval Reserve sailors were on duty throughout CNFJ during the past year. Of those, about 300 were junior enlisted sailors working in the force protection field at the facilities, while a small group of about 10-15 senior officers was assigned to CNFJ, Werp said.

“Of the officers, I believe they’re all gone except for one,” said Werp, a 15-year Tokyo resident who owns an engineering consulting business.

About 275 new naval reservists will be sent to CNFJ facilities. “The numbers fluctuate,” he said, “but they’re disbursed, with about 60 each at Atsugi, Sasebo and Yokosuka, 40 in Misawa, 30 in Okinawa and 25 in Diego Garcia.”

In addition to the three staying in Sasebo, of the 15 choosing to stay on active duty, six are at Misawa, two based in Okinawa and one is at Yokosuka, Werp said.

“I think more reservists might have extended out here, but the decisions regarding demobilization policy took time to reach the field and probably caused some frustration with regard to extending or not,” Werp explained.

“A real positive point, however, was the super job done by the NESA team, who really helped to mitigate this effect by directly assisting many reservists in getting swaps, transfers or extensions,” he said.

NESA, the Noble Eagle Sailor Advocacy program, operates a hot line providing a clearinghouse-like system for those who might want to go active duty. It also helps reservists on active duty with assignment swaps and transfers.

Devera joined the Naval Reserve about three years ago. Remaining mobilized for another year is part of maintaining a family tradition and realizing a lifelong dream, he said.

“When I was in high school, I always dreamed of being in the military. I have one brother who was in the Navy and is a retired chief, and I have another one who is active duty right now in San Diego. It’s more like a family thing,” Devera said.

Fortunately, he said, “My wife is understanding about it, and they say they’ll hold my job until I come back. Since I’m already here, I may as well stay here because if I went somewhere else I’d have to adjust to the place and people all over again.

“I’m still deciding if I want to join the Navy as full-time active duty and serve on a ship after this, but this is the best way to find out what it’s really like to be in the military,” Devera added. “I guess I have a year to make that decision.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Romuel Agaton, a single 31-year-old from the same reserve unit as Devera, also extended for another year. The aircraft refueler with Southwest Airlines served in the Navy from 1995 to 1998 on the USS Coronado, command ship for the U.S. 3rd Fleet.

Upon arriving in Sasebo, he worked in security and trained as a coxswain. Now he’s “one of the few” left in Sasebo capable of providing that training, Agaton said, originally from Mindanao, Philippines.

“I guess I better stay here another year,” he said. New reservists “are coming here, and they need to be trained. That’s why I feel like my purpose and mission here is not complete yet.”

Seriously considering a return to active duty in the Navy when his current mobilization ends, he wants to cross-rate from aviation boatswain, which he was on the Coronado, to master-at-arms, specializing in force protection.

“I really like Sasebo. I’ve enjoyed the culture here that is so different than ours,” Agaton said.

“And I like the camaraderie in the Navy,” he added.


Greg Tyler / S&S
Petty Officer 2nd Class Romuel Agaton, a reservist from San Diego, began serving on active duty at Sasebo Naval Base in November, 2001. Agaton, shown here working a harbor patrol shift Tuesday night, recently opted to remain on active duty for another year, and is considering a return to the Navy full time.



11-27-02, 07:34 AM
Score another one for the Japanese honeys.

The man said, "Time to say goodby to your loved ones and go home to your wives and families".

He was surprised that so many wanted to extend their overseas tours.

I'm not.