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Sand To Surf (And Back Again)!



Anthony Gary Ricci

My name is Anthony Gary Ricci, and I joined the Army in January 2005.  I am currently a Sergeant in the United States Army deployed in Iraq. I entered Iraq on September 15, 2006.  I am on a personal security detachment (PSD) for a one-star General and a Command Sergeant Major. My job is a 240 Bravo gunner for a convoy of Humvees.  I'm originally from San Jose, California. In December 2006 while searching on the net for a destination to surf for my mid-tour leave, I found Pohnpei Surf Club in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). It became my priority, focus, and dream that kept me sane in Iraq. However, I did not have any equipment to ride waves...any of it. When the time came on March 19, 2007, for my leave window and my birthday on the same, I ended up going to Maui and Kona to visit family and friends. All the while, I was thinking of Pohnpei and the regret of not going. When I returned back to Iraq, I saw footage of the boys performing in waves in Pohnpei. The place was beautiful, and the waves were perfect. I could not wait anymore to go. Having said that, I now yearned to surf in Pohnpei, no matter the cost.

Map of Iraq

I extended my stay in Iraq beyond a 365-day tour to make it a total of 21 months so that I might provide direction and assistance to the next team of PSD members. I had assumed that I was entitled to another mid-tour leave and was advised that I wasn't. December 2007 rolled around the corner, and I had to keep haggling to get another leave date. Upon the arrival of my 18-month mark in Iraq on the date of March 15th, I was finally granted leave.  I worked out all the details of my dream to surf on the island of Pohnpei with HenryMorales@WaveHunters.com and off I went. I flew from Iraq and arrived on Pohnpei. When I arrived, it all came together to perfection by the professionalism of Allois Maltifani of the Pohnpei Surf Club (PSC). Within minutes of arrival at the airport and a quick boat ride I was surfing. The staff here in Pohnpei is unbelievable, and everything worked out with no problem.  The waves were good and the barrels were picture perfect and are locked in my mind. The fishing is bountiful, the food is excellent and the staff @ PSC and the locals of FSM made this trip a once in a lifetime event for me, and I will return!!
 
Sgt Anthony, Ricci
United States Army
Back in Iraq



Map of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

This was the last e-mail I got from Sgt. Anthony Ricci before he left the Pohnpei International Airport (Federated States of Micronesia).  He could have gone anywhere else in the world: visit his family again, go party or just go somewhere closer to his base or home but I think Pohnpei was supposed to become a part of his life.

When I saw him at the airport, I didn't think he was the person I was looking for, one because he did not bring a surfboard (no surf shops in Iraq) and second because after so many arrival date changes and stops around the world, neither he nor I knew exactly what day he was arriving.

Surfboards were not a problem. He had plenty to pick from our surfboard rack to use while in Pohnpei.  He also enjoyed the fishing, the cold beer, the good food, friends he made, & the long nights at the Rusty Anchor, Flamingo and Lava Java for Karaoke.

Tonight is his last night in Pohnpei. Anthony is going straight back to Iraq.  We didn't need to invite him back to the island because he told me he can't wait to return, but this time it will be on the house.

See you soon Anthony.

Allois.

Allois Malfitani, President, Pohnpei Surf Club, Federated States of Micronesia
(alloism@hotmail.com)