Tradition in Paradise
By Paul Morrone, CFP®, CPA/PFS, MSA
There aren’t many people I’d travel half-way across the world for, however, my friend John is a notable exception. For the past 2 years, John served as one of the commanding officers at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii (Pearl Harbor) and was recently honored for his outstanding achievements during his time in power. Military tradition calls for a ceremony at a change in command, and John’s happened to be last weekend. Thanks to the unconditional support from Jill at home (who took on the burden of having Kyle and Ryan alone for a week), as well as John’s family who had already been relocated to their next post (Kansas City), I was fortunate enough to attend the ceremony in Honolulu as he passed the torch to the next in line. Needless to say, it wasn’t hard to twist my arm to head to Hawaii for a few days…
Our 20-year relationship survived high school, college in different states and, for the last 14 years, John’s travels to nearly every corner of the globe as he has ascended the ranks in the US Air Force. Over that time, we’ve shared many ups and downs (mostly ups), as John served as the best man in my wedding and most recently was named Godfather of both Kyle and Ryan. Kyle and his son, Asher, are only 3 months apart in age, and despite having limited face-to-face interaction relish in the opportunity to spend time together and play so well together it’s as if they saw each other every day. If I was to use my ‘once in a lifetime’ bargaining chip with Jill, it was going to likely involve John – and it did. Fortunately, she is a rockstar, and fully supported my ambition to be there for John during such an important time in his career. Of course, she’s not an idiot and knows that we were going to have a blast hanging out in Hawaii together as well.
Yes, it’s a long flight to get there. I won’t argue that. But all is forgotten as you step off the plane and are immediately greeted by the warm temperatures and the balmy breeze coming off the pacific (Honolulu’s airport is right on the water). I could feel my blood pressure immediately decrease as I thought about my first jump into the ocean and the Mai Tais that were sure to follow. I also quickly realized that the 6-hour time change had some unintended benefits – the rest of the world is virtually shut down by the time it reaches lunch time in Hawaii. Being that far behind my normal East Coast time gives a new meaning to ‘it’s 5 o’clock somewhere…’. Even more interesting is the concept of aloha Fridays, where Hawaii is virtually the only territory that is still in ‘working hours’ in on Friday afternoon. Asian countries have already crossed into the weekend (the international dateline is 1 time zone behind from Hawaii), and even California has reached the end of the workday by only 2pm Hawaii time. It’s a magical phenomenon, and you can feel the mood lighten by noon when happy hour and live music at the beach bars begins.
Aside from some much-needed R&R by the pool, we ate our way through some of the best restaurants on Oahu. Thanks to some great restaurant recommendations (thanks Lauren & Shannon!) we found a couple hidden gems that made our culinary adventures beyond memorable. Throw in a round of golf in the jungle and an up-close-and-personal viewing of the USS Arizona, and my five-day trip seemed to go by in a flash. Prior to the ceremony, John took me on a behind-the-scenes tour of Hickam Air Force Base and Pear Harbor, where the airfields were lined with military planes and naval destroyers sat awaiting their next mission.
The ceremony itself left a lasting impression as it gave me a first-hand experience with military tradition that many civilians never have the chance to see. As a ‘distinguished guest’ of John, I was even part of the proceedings and had a front row seat to the stage, which was impressive in its own right. Set in an airplane hangar, it was positioned just in front of an Air Force C-17 (a really, really big plane). It felt like a scene out of a movie. From the timeliness of the starting of the ceremony, the singing of the national anthem and many of the nuanced formalities that been observed for generations, it was captivating to see the honor, discipline and respect that shone through in the entire audience.
Thank you, Major (soon to be Lt. Colonel) John Lupo, and to all the dedicated men and women of our armed services for everything that you and your families do in serving country. It was an honor and a pleasure to support you, and I can only hope to witness many more exciting moments like this as your career progresses.