Marine Corps Base Hawaii --
The early hours of the morning don’t typically lend themselves to undue cheerfulness - and understandably so, especially aboard Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay. Despite the consistently radiant Hawaiian sun peeking over the Pacific, washing the flight line and the aircraft perched upon it in serene shades of gold, maintainers and pilots coming on and off of 12 hour shifts are not immune to grogginess (and occasionally, an ill temper). Officers and enlisted personnel alike make their way to the flight line Marine Mart to perk up with a coffee or a spam musubi, and are met with a personality that never fails to coax a smile from even the most tired, disgruntled air-winger.
Ronny Higuchi, the store manager of the Marine Corps Base Hawaii flight line Marine Mart, is something of an institution aboard MCBH.
“I’m from Hawaii - my dad was in the army for 30 years,” Higuchi said. “I tried to join when I got out of high school, but a health condition prevented that.”
Higuchi was adamant in pursuing a career supporting the military, however.
“I still always wanted to give back,” Higuchi said. “Finally, the time was right in my life when I saw the job posting, and I just went for it.”
That was nearly 19 years ago. Since then, Higuchi has become an important part of the day for service members aboard MCAS Kaneohe Bay.
“The first time I remember interacting with Ronny would probably be the second week that I was stationed here,” said Lance Cpl. Jamie Shadwick, an aviation technician with Marine Aviation Logistics Group 24. “He’s always chatting everyone up, and he’s always putting smiles on people’s faces.”
Higuchi’s personable manner becomes immediately evident observing him working on any given day at the flight line Marine Mart. You can find a steady flow of customers greeting him by name as they come and go; what’s even more impressive is Higuchi’s ability to reciprocate, greeting each patron personally.
“As old as I am, names sometimes get hard to remember,” Higuchi said, chuckling. “You’re talking to a guy who’s been married 38 years, and I can’t even remember my wife’s birthday!”
Higuchi was being overly modest however, Shadwick said.
“He gets to know everyone on a personal level,” she explained. “If you grab a starburst every day, then one day you go up to the register and you don’t have a starburst in your hand, he’s going to ask you what the deal is.”
This high level of care contributes to the sense of comradery between the civilians and service members living and working aboard MCBH.
“Ronny helps keep a sense of optimism in everyone he runs into,” Shadwick said. “You know whenever you go in that store, you’re going to be greeted with a big smile.”
Higuchi said he’s proud to continue serving service members aboard the installation.
“Working with these Marines and Sailors, I see them every day, I see the long hours that they put in, and still they come back for more,” Higuchi said. “I just do what I do because of them.”