MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, SC -- The Tri-Command Single Marine and Sailor Program held a grand opening ceremony for the new SMP Liberty Center and the “No Rockers Down” lounge here Oct. 27.
The new building was created in response to quality of life issues that Marines brought up at SMP meetings, mostly about having to go outside the Air Station to find entertainment, according to Jimmie Woods, assistant coordinator for the SMP.
The building (the former Tax Center) is located in Bldg. 1231 behind Echo Barracks, and is within walking distance of all Bachelor Enlisted Quarters.
The project was headed by Sgt. Maj. Daniel Terwilliger, the Marine Aircraft Group 31 sergeant major, according to Col. Robert Lanham, the Air Station commanding officer.
“This was a lot of hard work aboard the Air Station all started by Sergeant Major Terwilliger,” said Lanham. “The sergeants major played a major role.”
The renovation project was a team effort by the Marines and sailors that the center was built to serve, according to Woods.
“It was the Marines and sailors who built this,” Woods said. “They did everything from the painting and the paneling, to moving all the furniture.”
The two-story Liberty Center is open 24 hours a day while the hours of “No Rockers Down” is determined by the patronage. The Liberty Center, which is upstairs, contains five computers with high-speed internet, three 27-inch televisions, each with an Xbox, one 42-inch plasma screen television, as well as multiple DVDs and Xbox games available to check out.
“No Rockers Down,” located downstairs, contains a bar area, two 42-inch plasma screen televisions, one 27-inch television and a pool table. On Mondays it will open at 7 p.m., it will be closed on Tuesday, Wednesday to Friday it will open at 4:30 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday it will open at 11 a.m. The bar will close whenever there are not enough customers to keep it open, according to Woods.
“This place has all the same stuff that guys used to go out in town for,” Woods said. “We are within walking distance of everybody in the barracks. Why take the chance of driving drunk or getting into trouble?”
Already, the center is enjoying a large degree of success, according to Lanham.
“It’s already a hit,” said Lanham. “Every time I come in here, I have seen people using the TV’s and computers.”
Even though the center has just opened, Woods is optimistic about the center’s continued success.
“The only reason (service members) wouldn’t come is because they don’t know we’re here, they don’t know we’re open,” Woods said. “It’s like the Field of Dreams,” Woods added. “If you build it, they will come. Okay, we built it.”
Marines have already begun to enjoy the facility, according to Cpl. Michael Moll, the log and records clerk at Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting, who submitted the winning name for the “No Rockers Down” lounge.
“It keeps young Marines out of trouble,” said Moll. “It’s something to get them out of the barracks.”
The Air Station’s top enlisted and several squadron commanding officers also see the center as a great opportunity for young Marines and sailors.
“This place looks like a college campus,” said Col. Robert Walsh, the Marine Aircraft Group 31 commanding officer. “The Marines and sailors couldn’t have a better place.”