Tips for summer PCS with success [MIGRATE]

By Cpl. Brian A. Stevens | April 22, 2014

Many Marines with families are slated to permanently change station in the upcoming summer months. Moving to and from an overseas duty station, such as Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, can be stressful and unfamiliar to even senior service members.

According to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Sandy Alvarez, director of the station Installation Personal Administration Center, two common mistakes people make prior to transitioning are failing to have family members approved as dependents if they are planning to travel with the PCSing service member and not having passports for every family member.

“These issues cause a domino effect in delays,” said Alvarez. “For example, not able to make their Patriot Express flight; missing their connecting flight; shortening their leave period or no leave; having to modify orders; and so on.”

Alvarez said the biggest difference between a PCS from an overseas location and a stateside PCS is restricted travel. Marines are required to fly on the Patriot Express as long as it meets mission requirements. Requests to travel on commercial flights are rare and must be submitted to Headquarters Marine Corps.

Attending the PCS for Success Class as soon as a service member receives orders is strongly recommended. This allows service members to start their check-out process with ample time.

Toni Gradiner, station relocation specialist for MCAS Iwakuni, encourages service members to apply for a sponsor at their new duty station. Sponsors are one tool that can be used to make the transit period go smoothly.

Another mistake often made by service members in transit, is not shipping their household goods in time. Being overseas means it takes extra time for household goods to arrive at the service member’s new duty station.

Service members should be aware that they can ship all of their furniture and cookware well in advance because there is a lending locker aboard station that allows you to borrow those items until you PCS, said Cpl. Ashley Treuchet, household goods noncommisioned officer with the station Distribution Management Office.

According to Alvarez, pet travel is also a big difference. Space for pets is extremely limited and is based on a first-come first-serve basis, it is encouraged for service members set up their travel dates as early as possible.

Alvarez stressed the importance of service members insuring they have enough obligated service on their contract to execute the orders. Orders such as independent duty assignments require a minimum of 36 months of obligated service left on contract.

For more information on having a successful PCS from MCAS Iwakuni, contact Toni Gardiner at 253-3311 or email