A GoFundMe campaign hopes to raise enough money to fly Luna, who went missing in December at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo, to her family in Oklahoma.

A GoFundMe campaign hopes to raise enough money to fly Luna, who went missing in December at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo, to her family in Oklahoma. (Natalie Kuri)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Two hours before Tammy and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Marcus Jenkins boarded their flight from Japan to Seattle on Dec. 29, their cat, Luna, went missing.

Marcus, a former air traffic controller with 374th Operations Support Squadron, spent his final, frantic moments at Yokota scouring the area for any sign of Luna, Tammy told Stars and Stripes that day by Facebook Messenger.

The couple was taking the Patriot Express, the contract air service for military passengers, to Seattle for their eventual move to Oklahoma.

Members of the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron descended on the Jenkins’ recently vacated room at Yokota’s Kanto Lodge. They disassembled the bed, moved the stove and refrigerator and searched the cabinets and drawers without success, Tammy said.

“We are getting ready to board without my cat,” she said by Messenger that morning.

More than a month later, on Feb. 3, someone found Luna, an emaciated brown-and-gray tabby, near Yokota’s eastside chapel.

Two days later, Tech. Sgt. Grant Carson and his wife, Diana Carson, started a GoFundMe campaign, “Reuniting Luna with Tammy,” to raise $5,000 to fly the feline home.

Grant Carson, an equipment custodian with Yokota’s 730th Air Mobility Squadron, and Diana Carson, manager-volunteer at the Airman’s Attic, were familiar with Tammy.

“We knew Tammy as a friend; she worked here at the Airman's Attic,” Grant Carson said Feb. 8. “Every time you [make a permanent change of station], you burn through money, so we wanted to try to help her out.”

Many military families know too well that shipping pets can be expensive. Moving Luna from Japan to Oklahoma will cost about $3,000, Tammy said. As of Thursday, the campaign has raised $1,545.

Meanwhile, Luna is in the care of Natalie Kuri, a civil engineers’ analyst and animal rescue volunteer at Yokota. The Jenkinses adopted Luna from Kuri, who found the cat on base two years ago.

“We were so thrilled to get the call that Luna was found, and that Natalie had picked her up and taken her to the vet,” Tammy Jenkins said Wednesday via Messenger. “The outpouring of support from Yokota has been amazing and Natalie is our amazing angel.”

Kuri spent nearly $200 on a medical checkup at an off-base pet clinic for Luna. Though Luna is safe and sound, she’s down to 3 pounds from 7 pounds and must put on weight before she’s healthy enough to travel.

“She was dehydrated, hungry and close to death when she was found,” Kuri said.

The days between Luna lost and found were agonizing, Tammy said.

“It was terrible,” she said. “She is our baby. It was terrible not knowing if she was cold, hurt, hungry. I had many many nights of not sleeping and was up in the middle of the night Facetiming Natalie.”

Marcus is serving at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, for the next year, and Tammy said she can’t wait to be reunited with her family member.

“When Marcus was on (temporary duty travel) last time, Luna was my sleeping buddy,” Tammy said. “She was my alarm clock. She was always there to listen to me about my day. She is my protector. I have been without all of that since December 29.”

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Kelly Agee is a reporter and photographer at Yokota Air Base, Japan, who has served in the U.S. Navy for 10 years. She is a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program alumna and is working toward her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland Global Campus. Her previous Navy assignments have taken her to Greece, Okinawa, and aboard the USS Nimitz.

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