By Lance Cpl. Daniel A. Flynn
III Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs
PATTAYA, Thailand – After living in the United States for 19 years, 15 of which she has worn the uniform of a U.S. Marine, Staff Sgt. Siriporn Nakphinphat returned to Thailand in support of Exercise Cobra Gold 2009.
Cobra Gold is a regularly scheduled joint/coalition multinational exercise hosted annually by the kingdom of Thailand, and it is focused on improving military-to-military relationships among its participants.
Nakphinphat was born in Ratchuburi Thailand. But her grandmother, Suon Soiouwan, and grandfather, Lean Wongyai, raised her in a modest coastal fishing village consisting of about 300 families, called Bangkunsai.
At age 16, she moved to the United States to live in Kansas City, Mo., where she joined some of her family who were already residing there.
While in Kansas City, she attended four years of high school and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps shortly thereafter.
Nakphinphat decided to join the Marine Corps because she came from a military family, having one uncle in the Royal Thai navy and another uncle in the Thai army, both of whom she always held in high regard.
A Marine Corps recruiter called Nakphinphat one day, and she immediately went to the recruiting station after the conversation. Upon arrival, all she asked was "how soon do I leave?"
When she told her mother, Mayuree Newland, that she joined the Corps, the only thing her mother asked was, "why not the Navy?"
Nakphinphat's mother was very proud of her brother who was in the Royal Thai navy, and she had hopes that one of her children would follow in his footsteps.
Nakphinphat's answer to her mother was elegant in its simplicity, "I don't like white uniforms."
But she also added, "I joined for my future and for you."
At 19 years old, Nakphinphat set off for U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Training. Although only her mother and one of her cousins believed she could last, she said recruit training was easier for her than most people.
"The way I was raised was like boot camp. You just do what you are ordered to do," Nakphinphat said.
"I have matured and learned a lot by [serving] in the Marine Corps, and I love it," said Nakphinphat.
Nakphinphat is currently serving as the administration chief for Marine Corps Base Camp S. D. Butler in Okinawa, Japan.
She is very thankful that she had the opportunity to return to Thailand for Cobra Gold this year.
"I know for sure that with my language background, I can contribute to this exercise," she said.
Nakphinphat sees Cobra Gold as a "demonstration of friendship between the U.S. and Thailand" – the two countries she calls home.
Nakphinphat plans to retire from the Marine Corps after a full career and return to her family in Kansas City, and she may eventually move back to Thailand.
This work, U.S. Marine returns to her first home to support Cobra Gold 09, by Cpl Daniel Flynn, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.