Military families bring rich diversity to Jamestown
Although the majority of the military families that find their way to Conanicut Island have some connection to the Naval War College in Newport, there are some that are attached to other military commands and measure their stay in Jamestown not in months, but in years.
Some, as in the case of the Wise family, love it so much during their first tour that they choose to come back for a second.
Terri Wise is a Marine Corps wife who relocated to the island from Iwakuni, Japan, after a three-year stay in Asia. Although she and her family thought they were destined for Washington, D.C. after leaving Japan, the military had other ideas for her husband, Mark.
“When we found out my husband was going to have to go on an individual augment deployment to Afghanistan for a year, I left it up to my daughter on where she would like to attend her senior year of high school. She chose Jamestown,” she said. “My husband had gone through the war college in 2005-2006 and we had lived in Jamestown because of the junior high and high schools, but ended up falling in love with not only the village, but the people.”
Jamestown is not the only place the family has lived more than once.
Eleven of their 23 years in the military have been spent doing three different tours in Beaufort, S.C. They have also called Quantico, Va., Pensacola, Fla., Meridian, Miss., Lemoore, Calif., Ft. Walton Beach, Fla. and Washington, D.C. home.
“We have seen many wonderful parts of the U.S., as well as several countries in the Asian Pacific. I think my favorite thing about all the travels is meeting such great people from all over the world that have touched our lives in many ways, with many being forever friends,” she said. “Our favorite thing about Jamestown is the close-knit feel of the community and its wonderful people.”
The family is spread across the globe, with Mark in Afghanistan and their oldest daughter living in Washington state.
“Our daughter, Heather, attends
the University of Washington. She is majoring in photography and hopes to work for National Geographic one day,” she said.
Her daughter, Amber, who chose to live in Jamestown for her final year of high school, attends North Kingstown High School and wants to go to college to major in veterinary medicine.
“She enjoys computers, games, hanging out with her friends and spending time with our loveable and very friendly golden retriever, Ace,” Wise said.
They hope to experience more of New England this year and plan to make the most of their second stay on the island.
Phil and Bonnie Haun and their children, Clayton, 17, and Sadie, 12, did not have to travel quite as far as the Wise family to get to their new Conanicut Island home. In fact, their travel was a commute or a day trip for some island residents.
The Air Force family moved to Jamestown from the Boston area after a four-year stay there, but said the short distance has given them at least one advantage – they are already Boston Red Sox fans.
Word of mouth is what brought the Hauns to the island.
“We spoke to locals around Newport and got a big thumbs up to island living and the tight-knit community of Jamestown,” said Bonnie Haun.
While this duty station may have been a short hop for the family, they have spanned the globe with their moves, including Germany, where Sadie was born, and England, where Clayton was born.
“We have also lived in South Korea and every corner of the U.S., from Alabama to Alaska, Arizona to New England and quite a few states in between. We have good reason to love this country of ours,” Haun said.
Their globe hopping has left them with fond memories, including seeing the Aurora Borealis, snowmobiling, seeing a moose in their back yard, and shopping and negotiating in Seoul.
‘We have also loved weekends in Europe, fall in New England, Harvard football games, the Grand Canyon, Pike’s Peak in the snow, our church in Germany, Grace Chapel in Lexington, the Christkindlmarkt in Nuremburg and everything about England,” Haun said.
The family has already spent time enjoying the local cuisine and the shoreline at Beavertail State Park.
The International Boat Show in Newport, community events and seeing the local Christmas lights are all on their things-to-do list during their stay in Jamestown.
A lovely village retreat
Jay and Shelly Sourbeer did not travel across an ocean to get to Jamestown, but they did come from about as far away in the continental U.S. as a military family can get.
The couple, along with their two boys, Jeff, age 14, and Jay, age 12, moved here from Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif.
The local scenery played a part in bringing the family to the island.
“We chose to live in Jamestown because of Beavertail Park and the beautiful view from our deck,” Shelly Sourbeer said.
Although this move was a stateside one, the family has also spent some time in Europe. “Our favorite duty stations include Sigonella, Italy, for the food, and England,” she said. “We have enjoyed many family adventures throughout Europe and always reconnect with our friends wherever we are stationed. We are hoping to have a lobster fest with Coronado friends on our back deck.”
Their boys are looking forward to getting involved with the local Boy Scout troop.
“They enjoy hiking, camping and volunteering,” she said. “They really enjoyed the Jamestown teen job corps this summer. Many locals hired them to do gardening, painting and odd jobs. It was a very positive introduction to the Jamestown community.”
She said their favorite thing about the community so far is that it allows them the ability to escape the hustle of Newport and retreat in “this lovely village.”
They will not retreat only to the island, however.
“We hope to explore all of New England. The fall foliage, Boston, snow skiing, and we certainly hope to learn the language up here,” she said.