Japan was just a place for us to gather our thoughts since there was no time or opportunity to do so calmly and quietly in Germany so we only booked ourselves there for three days.
Not knowing if we were "wanted" or by whom for what exactly, we considered mom's options:
- Return to Germany
- Ask for political asylum in Japan
- Return to the United States, notify authorities of all that occurred and beg for protective custody
In reviewing all the events that led to taking our emergency vacation, we came to the conclusion that we might not be dealing with mom's ex-husband at all. Throughout the attacks in Germany, mom repetitively commented that the attacks were "too bold" and "too cocky" for her ex who she describes as smart and calculating - a perfectionist who pays keen attention to detail; she said her ex wouldn't do such "sloppy jobs" like the attacks she experienced in Germany. But if this wasn't her ex - and mom did say there was more then one attacker at times - who the heck would be doing all this to her and why? We needed answers and to establish the parameters we were being placed in so thought we’d turn back to those we had been talking to to begin with: a lieutenant and the high ranking enlisted.
I phoned the high ranking enlisted on a calling card first to ask what all the commotion was about in taking mom and the kids on vacation. The high ranking enlisted repeatedly asked where we were and I repeatedly replied that our location was irrelevant. Stressing that mom’s husband was left knowing nothing, I reminded the high ranking enlisted that mom’s husband wasn’t supposed to be home until June/July and that our travel plans were not contingent or based upon mom’s husband’s needs but mom’s and the kids’ needs. I explained that I had checked with other military wives and learned that taking a vacation was not prohibited so didn’t understand what the exact problem was.
Next I was asked if I was at all concerned about Child 1 missing school. Since Child 1 is a Kindergartner, I expressed that her missing a few days would most likely not disrupt her studying for the SATs so no, I wasn’t concerned. The high ranking enlisted then informed me that our passports had been frozen and mom’s ID had been locked; I responded “For taking a vacation?!”
The high ranking enlisted then asked how I knew that there was any upset going on and I replied from talking to my husband. I was then asked why my husband would know anything. Ummm, the only thing I could think of was “Because I’m MARRIED to him”. The high ranking enlisted re-clarified asking how my husband would know any specifics and I replied “Uh, because you talked to him”? He responded “Oh yea – I guess I did speak with him last week, yea…”
Now 100% sure that I/we were being stupidly toyed with and lied to, I said that the vacation was over; that mom went her way and I went mine so I had no idea where mom and the kids were.
Next phone call to Germany: the lieutenant was NOT a happy camper. After placing me on speakerphone, his first question was where we were. (Did EITHER of these guys REALLY think I was going to say “Oh yea – we’re in Narita, Japan at Hotel XXX”?!) I inquired about charges against us in consideration of mom’s vacation status and the lieutenant assured me that charges were indeed pending. I asked for clarification about why mom was subject to orders when she’s not IN the military herself and was given the explanation that as the dependent of a sponsor that mom had to return to Germany immediately.
I relayed my conversations with the high ranking enlisted and the lieutenant to mom who called the lieutenant back to try to get more information about our status from him. Mom was told that ignoring the EROD orders and removing Child 1 from school two days before she was supposed to be withdrawn was the problem everyone was having (besides the guilt-trip factor of “How could you do this to your husband’s career?”) Apparently it was “completely unlawful” for her to withdraw her own daughter from school a day and a half before being ERODed, that she (mom) is subject to command sponsorship, that he (the lieutenant) was going to bring mom up on charges, that he’s ALREADY brought her up on charges and that the passports and her financial access were being frozen.
Now what? We considered our options:
- Extend our stay in Japan and hope to avoid being apprehended by Interpol IF they were really involved?
- Or take our chances returning to Hawaii?
We opted to take the chance and jump.
Once again, it was another heart-stopping experience getting to the airport and making it onto the plane… We took a bus from the hotel to the airport and upon arriving at the airport, the bus was stopped by officers who wanted to see all our passports. Uncertain if this was normal procedure or about us, we handed over our passports holding our breath. The officer looked us over, handed our passports back and left the bus. Then just as we started to move, two Japanese officers appeared from the right, running towards the bus, shouting and waving their hands. The bus abruptly stopped and to our relief, the officers ran across the bus’ path to something that had their attention on the other side of the bus. Phew! Now, on to ticketing…
The ticket counter at China Airlines for our flight back to Honolulu had a sign that read “Not open until 5:00pm”. We were there a full hour ahead of time so tried to wait calmly with three bored-out-of-their-wits kids. Airline staff finally showed up and had our complete attention as they gathered papers, scanned the waiting line and then huddled in a circle when a supervisor arrived for what looked like an informational briefing. It didn’t help that every so often someone from the huddle would look up and scan the line. There was nowhere to run or hide so I told mom that if we were pulled out, we should ask for political asylum (like Holly Collins did).
Upon getting up to the ticket counter, there appeared to be another problem. The ticket agent smiled politely, took our passports then asked us to please wait for a moment. She went to her supervisor who looked at us, then at our passports and then back at us. “Oh no, this is it” I thought. The ticket agent returned and apologized saying that our bag was 10 pounds overweight - we needed to pay a fee but she was having a problem trying to figure out the fee for us in American dollars.
Finally at the gate, mom decided to assess how serious the “financial freeze threats” were by calling her bank to inquire about her financial holdings (marital mutual funds and investments). When mom shrieked “WHAT?!” from the payphone, I knew it couldn’t be good news and it wasn’t: mom was told that everything was gone – but the banker couldn’t explain where it had all gone to. The banker reported that dad hadn’t withdrawn from the accounts and neither had mom; she said it appeared that her card/accounts were inactive or frozen. Mom asked if the bank put a hold on her card/accounts from their end, but the banker said no – nor could she explain what was going on. The conversation was cut short by our boarding announcement.
China Air’s primary color is purple so seats, blankets and flooring – all purple. I took it as a good omen and it was…