“We are going to Europe.” That’s what my husband told me one day twelve years ago. His detailer gave him a choice. . . and he picked Europe. Although we hadn’t discussed what he should choose if asked, we had both talked about how amazing going to Europe would be. And soon we would be there too.
My son and I joined my husband over in Germany in 2006, and that is where we spent the next four years at two different duty stations. Looking back, there is so much to love about Germany and being stationed there. But some overseas locations are better than others.
1. RAF Lakenheath, England
RAF Lakenheath is a dream for Anglophiles everywhere. This is a Royal Air Force station that is host to US Air Force units and personnel. This base is located in Suffolk, less than five miles from Mildenhall and two hours from London. The town of Lakenheath has 8,200 residents, and if you are stationed there, you will want to take the time to explore. With London close by and plenty of other towns and villages in the area, there is always plenty to do. And taking a weekend trip to Ireland or Scotland is totally possible.
2. Stuttgart, Germany
Germany has quite a few amazing places that you can be stationed. Home to the US Army Garrison Stuttgart, United States European Command, and the United States African Command, Stuttgart is considered a “purple” one. This means that you will find service members from all branches here. Stuttgart, the city, has 600,000 people and being stationed there means being close to other countries. Going to places like Switzerland, Austria, France, and Italy is relatively easy and can make for fun travel opportunities abroad.
3. Rota, Spain
Located in the southwestern part of Spain, Rota is on the Atlantic Ocean and can be a fantastic experience. Home to Naval Station Rota, this is a smaller base in a sea-side fishing village. In Rota, you will find beaches, a boardwalk, good nightlife, a downtown area, and plenty of festivals to enjoy turning the year. Rota is in the Province of Cádiz and you will find about 28,000 people there with 100,000 during the summer months. The weather is similar to what you will find in Southern California, and there is an air terminal so taking Space-A back to the US will be easier than other locations in Europe.
4. Naples, Italy
Naples, Italy, famous for its beauty, is home to the US Sixth Fleet and the US Naval Forces Europe. Being stationed there can be a dream if you love the ocean, good food, and history. With almost one million people, the city of Naples is the third largest in Italy. There is plenty to do and plenty of areas to explore. Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and just two hours from Rome.
5. Apra Harbor, Guam
If you are all about beaches and island life, Guam is going to be the perfect place for you. Guam is an American territory but is considered an overseas location when it comes to the military. There are only about 174,000 people on the island, and Apra Harbor is home to Joint Region Marianas. This is made up of Naval Base Guam and Anderson Air Force Base. Apra Harbor is a deep-water port on the western side of Guam. There are plenty of areas to enjoy and explore with boating opportunities, places to swim, and sandy, white beaches. Deep sea diving is popular so if you are there, make sure to take some lessons. You will also be a two-hour plane ride from Japan and a five-hour plane ride from Australia and New Zealand.
6. Okinawa, Japan
Okinawa, Japan is a favorite. An island, Okinawa is just about 70 miles long and an average of seven miles wide. There are about 26,000 US military personnel spread across 32 military bases on the island. Take advantage of the beaches and enjoying island life. There is a lot to do in the area and it is easy to travel to other places in Asia and even Europe.
By Julie Provost
Julie Provost is an associate editor at Military One Click and a National Guard spouse. She can be reached at [email protected]