News: Home away from home
Story by Sgt. Sarah Fiocco
ROBERTSON BARRACKS, Northern Territory, Australia – For most Marines who arrived in the Northern Territory only a few months ago as part of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, the Australian culture has been a foreign concept.
From the accents and wildlife, to the traffic laws and climate, it was apparent they had definitely traveled far from home.
However, for Sgt. Ian Polhamus, squad leader, 3rd Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, MRF-D, this rotation has not felt like a deployment at all. To him, it feels like a welcome home.
“Back in 1990, my dad was in the Air Force. He was stationed about 150 kilometers from Adelaide, South Australia. We lived here for about seven years,” said Polhamus. “I was very excited when I found out we were going to Australia. I came back to the place I grew up. This is where I have all of my childhood memories. It was a big part of my life.”
Some of Polhamus’ fondest memories of Australia are from the 3-kilometer radius town where he lived.
“I grew up right in the outback, so there were no big trees like there are here. It’s basically desert,” recalled Polhamus. “I would ride my dirt bike and chase kangaroos with my Australian Shepherd dog. Then we would come back and have a barbecue with the neighbors.”
After spending years of his life in various places Down Under, such as Queensland, Sydney, Darwin, and his favorite, Brisbane, Polhamus returned to the US where he found adjusting back to the American lifestyle tricky.
“I came back with a strong accent, and I pronounced certain words differently,” he said. “I learned different words for things; like bathroom was called the toilet or a dunny.”
Since his return to the Top End, he has received several visits from family friends, including his childhood babysitter. Having these visitors gave him the opportunity to share what he believes is the best part of the country with his fellow Marines.
“My favorite part of Australia is the people. They’re really friendly,” said Polhamus. “It’s what makes the experience. We’ve taken the Marines around the area. It’s really fun to just go out there and let them see a little bit of where I grew up.”