By USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Public Affairs Office

Many service members begin their time in service by departing where they have grown up their entire life.  They leave behind everything and everyone they've come to love their family, friends, possessions, and the city they love.  

Once they arrive at their commands, it is common for a service member to find another person from the state they are from, especially at larger commands. 

While at sea with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), the number of Sailors and Marines onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) reaches nearly 3,000. With that many individuals on an 844-foot-long amphibious assault ship, the chances to meet someone from the same state would be pretty high - but the odds of finding someone from the same hometown? Slim to none.

Don't tell that to Seaman Alexis Posey, 20, and Lance Cpl. Trevor Finley, 21.  Both hail from the town of Bryan, Ohio, home to approximately 8,000 people.  The Ohioans ran into each other during a recent training exercise that kicked off in Norfolk, Va., more than 700 miles from Bryan. 

Their chance meeting onboard Iwo Jima left both surprised.

"I honestly didn't think it was her," said Finley, assigned to the 26th MEU's Combat Cargo. "It was the third day after we got onboard in Norfolk, and as I was walking through the passageway, I thought I recognized her.  I didn't think anything of it, but when I saw her a second time a second time, I had to ask if it was her and it was."

"It's just a crazy feeling overall," said Posey, of Iwo Jima's deck department. "Both of us only had a few people in our class who joined the service.  You go from communications class one day to serving your country the next."

Finley graduated from Bryan High School in 2014, while Posey graduated the following year.  Both joined shortly after their graduations, and were proud of their decision to serve. 

"Being in the Marine Corps was something I wanted to do since I was a kid," said Finley. "Serving in the military is not a normal thing to do where we come from, but I wanted to make a difference doing something important. " 

"I took part in a disaster relief exercise back home and we saved about 400 ducks," said Posey. "From that point on, I just knew that I wanted to make a difference and help people.  I was on the ship when we supported Haiti and it felt great to do that then.  The Navy and Marines cover so much ground - the entire world, actually - but seeing someone I know from back home makes me think it can be really small at the same time." 

Finley and Posey will be spending more time together serving their country onboard Iwo Jima as the ship and the MEU prepare to deploy together in early 2018.