Maria LeMieur moving from Guam to North Carolina
by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Maria LeMieur left Little Falls in May 2010 as a fresh U.S. Navy recruit, and returned on leave in December 2012 between assignments as a seasoned military service member.
After graduating from Little Falls Community High School in 2007, LeMieur, daughter of Jim and Charlene LeMieur, went to Alexandria Technical College to be a lab technician. She quit the program when she discovered that she didn’t really like it.
“I didn’t know quite what to do,” she said. “I didn’t want to waste money going to college.”
She made a choice to join the Navy in 2009, taking advantage of the delayed entry program. LeMieur picked the Navy because her grandpa, Ken LeMieur, had been in the Navy.
“It was more appealing to me than the Army or the Marines,” she said.
She went to boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illlinois, also attending advanced training there.
While in advanced training, LeMieur met her fiance, Brian Stemple of Akron, Ohio.
As a newly graduated corpsman, LeMieur was assigned to Anderson Air Base in Guam.
“The island has limited resources, and there are not a lot of conveniences there,” LeMieur said. “There are not a lot of big malls, and things cost a lot more out in town than on the base.”
Since the high temperature every day all year ‘round is about 85 degrees, LeMieur enjoyed going to the beach.
“It was fun to go in December,” she said. “It rained from August to about November every year, though.”
LeMieur found the local cuisine to be very good. “It was Asian, with a strong Filipino influence, not very spicy,” she said.
“The most fun and enjoyable part of my time on Guam was my job and the people I worked with,” said LeMieur. She was an anesthesiology technician in surgery.
While LeMieur spent just more then two years on Guam, Stemple worked in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
“We took in the wounded warriors that were flown from Landstuhl, Germany,” he said. “As soon as they were stable, they were flown on a 10-hour flight to the United States.”
Stemple visited LeMieur on Guam, one time driving around the entire island. They were able to do this in three hours.
Living conditions for the residents of Guam are pretty primitive. “They live in huts in 14 different villages,” said LeMieur. “There are no towns and no big city. There is a tourist area with hotels, restaurants and touristy shopping, but no one really lives there.”
There were multiple typhoon warnings while LeMieur was on Guam. “There is supposed to be a typhoon about every five years, but there hasn’t been one now in 10 years.”
LeMieur found it hard being away from her family. She saved up for plane tickets, and was able to travel home two times. She spent all three Christmas holidays in Guam.
“There were two days of travel time every time I came home,” she said. “When I left Guam at 10:30 a.m., I got to Minneapolis at 11 a.m. the same day. But when I left Minneapolis at 10:30 a.m. on a Friday, I got to Guam almost midnight Saturday night.”
It was a challenge to call home, as there were only certain times when it worked. If she called before she went to work, it was evening in Little Falls.
LeMieur bought a car on Guam, a 1998 Ford Escort with 80,000 miles on it.
“I sold it before I left to someone just arriving in Guam,” she said. “They are called ‘Guam bombs’ because the cars just stay on the island. It’s such a small island; the cars last forever.”
LeMieur and Stemple are both being reassigned to Camp Lejeune, N. C.. LeMieur will have 54 days of training before being assigned to a field medical training battalion.
“I will be working with the daily sick call for the trainees,” she said.
The couple has not set a wedding date because Stemple is scheduled to deploy to a ship patrolling the seas in early 2014.
“We won’t know the exact sea location,” Stemple said. “We will be part of the emergency response system.”
“I would encourage people to go into the military because of all the benefits,” said LeMieur. “There is a steady paycheck, no matter what. There is the GI Bill to pay for school, tuition assistance while in the military and medical care.”
LeMieur took three classes while on Guam, on personal finances, economics and history of American war.
Stemple and LeMieur are looking forward to being assigned to the same installation.
“And I’m looking forward to working with a different branch (Marines) since all the personnel on Guam were Navy,” said LeMieur.
LeMieur and Stemple left for North Carolina Wednesday.