So You’re Going OCONUS

With over five years of dwell time (how long it’s been since you deployed), I had a sneaking suspicion that after the Signal Captains Career Course I’d either be deploying, or we would be moving OCONUS (outside the continental United States). When the RFO (Request for Orders) came down for Camp Humphreys, Korea, we weren’t surprised. Now began the excitement of planning to move our family of six halfway across the world! Fortunately, we had plenty of notice – I received my RFO in late February, and we wouldn’t be reporting to Korea until mid September.

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Pets

We have two AWESOME dogs, a 9yo Husky/GSD mix and her 7yo lab mix daughter. It was a ridiculously tough decision, but we decided to ask my parents if they’d be willing to take care of them for the two years. Thankfully they said yes, and the hounds are now settled in and loving life with their cousin Pippin.

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Grandparent/Great-grandparents Time

With plane tickets around $1,100 per, the odds of us coming home during our time in Korea is pretty slim. Hopefully space available will be able to get us home for Christmas in 2017, but there are no guarantees. With that in mind, we decided Hillary and the kids would fly home to Minnesota to spend time with grandparents and great-grandparents. Hillary’s parents have a large walk-out basement with two bedrooms, a bath, and a kitchenette – perfect amount of room for when we come to visit.

Hillary’s dad John flew in to Atlanta to help Hillary fly home with the kids, and this proved a good trial run for our luggage idea – more to follow in a blog post on that one!

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Hillary and the kids had a great time, and the grandparents and great-grandparents loved having two months of kid time.

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Vehicles

When we received our RFO, we had three vehicles. My daily driver is a 2002 Infiniti Q45 sedan, the fun car is a 2007 BMW M6, and the family hauler a 2009 Chevrolet Suburban. The Q45 was paid off, the M6 and Suburban were both recently purchased.

While we didn’t want to ship the Suburban to Korea (tiny streets, high gas prices, etc.), since it was so recently purchased we didn’t have much of a choice unless we wanted to take a major loss.

Hillary dropped the Suburban off at the Vehicle Processing Center in Atlanta the day they were flying out – AND IT WAS A NIGHTMARE. Even though the Joint Travel Regulation doesn’t say anything about requiring registration to ship a vehicle, the Atlanta VPC did – and since we had just bought the vehicle five months prior, we didn’t have the registration yet (was still good on the dealer registration). She was finally able to get a copy faxed to the VPC. Also, if you have a lien on your vehicle make sure your lien holder has sent you a memo releasing your vehicle to be shipped overseas.

The BMW sold with a few weeks to spare. As much as I loved it, I didn’t love the idea of putting it in storage for two years.

The Infiniti is going on Craigslist, and my father-in-law will take care of selling it.

Conclusion

  • Lessons learned:
    • Time with grandparents\great-grandparents is worth the sacrifice on the servicemembers part.
    • When shipping a vehicle, give the VPC a call and make sure you have all the paperwork they require
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2 thoughts on “So You’re Going OCONUS

  1. I would love to know how you’re family is faring with the suburban in Korea! We too just recently purchased one and will be PCS’ing there next year and are not confident the suburban would survive there. Thanks!

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    • Honestly, it hasn’t been as bad as people make it sound. The major roads are fine. In the metros there are side-streets that are TINY – like, we’ll sometimes clear with a few inches on each side. Some of the parking garages are really tight too. But for 95% of the time, we haven’t had an issue. All in all, it wasn’t nearly as painful as I expected it to be.

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