By Lt. j.g. Kyle Avocato
Maritime patrol deployments usually afford sailors the opportunity to travel the world and experience many cultures.
This has been especially true during Patrol Squadron (VP) five's) current deployment as "Mad Foxes" sailors have traveled from Brunei to Thailand, the Middle East, and even countries such as Singapore and South Korea.
Among the many trips that the Mad Foxes have taken, none have been as special as the trip to Iwoto, Japan.
The Mad Foxes took a once in a lifetime trip to the island, where one of the most famous battles of World War II was fought.
This island, formerly known as Iwo Jima, is where thousands of Marines lost their lives and is the origin of the famous photo of six US Marines raising the American flag at the summit of Mount Suribachi.
Not just anyone can get to this sacred island, and as VP-5's Petty Officer 2nd Class Joy said about the trip, "I put my name down right away [to participate] because I did not want to miss out on this opportunity."
There were a total of 21 Sailors on this trip that included every part of the squadron from maintainers to aircrew and combat support staff.
The day started with their P-8A landing on the island's airfield known as Iwo Jima Air Base or Central Field.
Soon after landing, all of the Sailors changed into their hiking clothes and prepared for the trek to the beach and to Mt. Suribachi.
Along this scenic hike, they stopped at key points along the route to learn about the different significant parts of the island for both the U.S. Marines and Japanese Army personnel.
The hike started at the airfield and continued down a road until everyone made it to the infamous beach of Iwo Jima filled with volcanic black sand.
Before the beach, the sailors stopped to see an old bunker, naval guns and artillery, and even parts of the intricate cave system that spans the island.
While walking to the beach, there were memorials commemorating different anniversaries of the battle for both the United States and Japan. Once on the beach, Sailors could imagine the challenges Marines and soldiers faced during their struggles to gain and maintain progress during this historic battle.
After making their way across the beach, everyone started the hike up Mt. Suribachi that spans roughly 14 miles.
The hike was long but rewarding.
Standing on top of the mountain, one could see the whole island and imagine what it must have been like during the battle and took the time to honor all of the lives lost.
Sailors were in awe of the whole experience. Petty Officer 3rd Class Kennedy said, "I enjoyed every part of the hike. I would not have traded it for anything."
The commanding officer of VP-5, Cmdr. Joe Levy, was also along for the trip and said, "This is a once in a lifetime experience. I will remember this for the rest of my life."
The Mad Foxes hope to make multiple trips back to the island so other Sailors can have and share the same experience. VP-5 honors those that lost their lives on the island and strives to learn from their bravery and courage.
VP-5 is currently on a routine deployment to the Southwestern and Eastern Asia.