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MCAS Beaufort seeks to improve on-base entertainment, relaxation options

By Cpl. K. A. Thompson | | May 20, 2005

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The operational tempo aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort continues to be high and,  just like the Lowcountry summer temperatures, it will continue to rise in the coming months. However, the hustle and the bustle are coming from more than just the demand of the Marine Corps and Navy mission.

Construction efforts aboard MCAS and Laurel Bay have resulted in new facilities like housing and childhood development centers. Also renovations have improved the esthetics of the headquarters building and Officer’s Club. Along with several projects still in the planning stages, an improved enlistment club is on the drawing board, according to Sgt. Maj. D. C. Terwilliger, sergeant major, Marine Aircraft Group 31.

“Sometime in the near future the Hard Corps will have to be torn down and rebuilt like the Officer’s Club was,” Terwilliger said.

In order to ensure Marines and Sailors  have an adequate amount of input, Col. Robert S. Walsh, commanding officer, MAG-31 suggested forming an enlisted club advisory board. Several units aboard the Air Station sent representatives to the advisory board to discuss topics ranging from club improvements, decorations, entertainment and finding a temporary location until construction of the new enlisted club is complete, according to Terwilliger.

“Our main goal is for the young Marines and Sailors to have an option so they wouldn’t feel so compelled to have to go off base just to relax and socialize,” Terwilliger said.

In addition to finding a home for the temporary enlisted club, the advisory board and the Single Marines and Sailors Program want to improve the conditions of the barracks, according to Terwilliger. They chose building 123, which is located behind ‘bravo’ and  ‘Charlie’ barracks, because of the central location and the available amount of square footage.

After a location was chosen, SMP got together and solicited ideas from around the base. The ideas were then made into proposal sketches, which were drawn by Lance Cpl. Erik J. Pye, operations clerk, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251. The club advisory board and SMP were able to work together to find out what the young Marines and Sailor wanted, according to Terwilliger. Changes set to come to building 123 will add amenities to both floors as well as the outside area.

“On the second deck they wanted a big screen TV for either movies or Pay Per View,” Terwilliger said. “Also a couple of TVs with an X-box and a Play Station so they can have tournaments. There will also be several computers with a couple of printers so they can check their emails or get involved in off duty education.”

The design for the first floor includes a beer garden and a sports bar. There are also plans for a fire pit and an expanded recreation area. Everyone is pitching in to help see this project through, according to Terwilliger.

“The station sergeant major (Sgt. Maj. Alexander McBride) donated a couple of pallets of bricks and (Marine Wing Support Squadron -273) were gracious enough to say they would lend their expertise in helping with the fire pit,” Terwilliger said. “We are also going to put in a volley ball court and horse shoe pits.”

The need for improved recreation facilities aboard the Air Station is not just a quality of life issue, but also a matter of safety, according to Terwilliger.

“I think everyone understands how important it is to keep our young Marines and Sailors on base,” Terwilliger said. “Even during daylight hours, the roads to Charleston and Savannah are dangerous. The nearest big cities are an hour north and south of us and we are only trying to lessen the desire to have to drive.”

The desire to create an entertaining and relaxing environment aboard the Air Station also came to the board’s attention from recalling their experience with other SMPs and Marine Corps Community Service facilities around the world.

“We have always tried to make things as comfortable as possible away from home,” Terwilliger said. “But all of us feel we have neglected them here at home. Our young Marines and Sailors are our most valuable asset. As always we try to take care of them because they have always taken care of us in one form or another.”

Work has already begun on the main floor of building 123. The goal for completion is early summer. Although plans have been made and work is underway, there is still time for Marines and Sailors to make suggestions and provide input concerning design and entertainment, according to Terwilliger.

“We are constantly looking at any and all ideas, especially with the new enlisted club,” Terwilliger said.

For more information, or to offer ideas on improving the barracks and enlisted club call SMP at 228-1541 or 228-7405 or send an email to pa@beaufort.usmc.mil.

“I just wanted to thank Mr. King, Mark Story and Steve Prince at MCCS,” Terwilliger said. “I also want to thank the station CO and sergeant major, the MAG CO, MAG XO Lt. Col. Roberts, Jimmie Woods and the Single Marine Program, MWS-273 and all the Marines and Sailors for their input in making this happen. We are only giving them what they want.”
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