How the berthings measure up to the barracks

21 Oct 2010 | Pfc. Kel Clark

For many of the service members aboard the Air Station, their home on base is the four walls they share with another person-someone they never knew or someone they work with.

For single Marines, the barracks are somewhere they can go after a long day of work and just relax before they return the next day.

The Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 did have the luxury of the barracks before they deployed onboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman for a seven-month deployment, May 20. Now the Checkerboards from the sergeant major to the privates, single and married, live in berthings.

For those not familiar with ship life, a berthing is a ship’s living quarters where a large number of service members reside in one area. In these berthings, the Marines have to sleep in the same area, store all of their belongings in lockers and bathe in a community bathroom.

The Marines and sailors sleep three to a bunk, which consists of three beds with lockers built into them, and they also share a lounge area with two televisions for recreation.

“Living in the berthing makes us value our privacy more back home,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Strickland, an aviation mechanic with VMFA-312.

 While onboard the Truman, berthing for enlisted Marines are split into separate categories: noncommissioned officers and below, staff NCOs and above, and officers.

“I live in base housing (on the Air Station) with my wife and three children, and now it’s like I’ve moved from taking care of three children to ensuring the cleanliness and safety of 100 men,” said Sgt. Daniel Williams, the ordnance noncommissioned officer-in-charge and the berthing NCOIC for VMFA-312. “Here, we live with people with different ways of living. I make sure we all have a common ground when it comes to the well-being of the berthing.”

As the berthing NCOIC, Williams makes sure the Marines have stocked cleaning supplies, working appliances and he solves any issues that may come up throughout the deployment. The Marines clean the berthing every evening and field day every week, just like the barracks on the Air Station.

“We, as Marines, hold ourselves to a higher standard no matter where we go,” Williams said. “That’s just how we’ve been taught since recruit training, whether we went to (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) San Diego or Parris Island.”

According to Strickland, one thing he feels Marines will miss the most from the barracks is the opportunity to have a twin-size or full-size bed and be able to come and go as they please after work.

“Recently, the command master chief and commanding officer of the Truman commented on our berthing being the cleanest compared to all the others on the ship,” Strickland said. “The sailors here always comment on our bathroom, showers and berthing. We try and keep it up-to-par all the time. Williams is doing an outstanding job in the maintenance of the berthing.”

Although the living conditions are different from what they’re accustom, the Marines understand how good they actually have it during this deployment.

“This place is a lot different compared to what service members have on the ground,” Strickland said. “We have air-conditioning, space for the things we need, not want, and last I checked we don’t have rounds firing at us randomly. We know times are hard, but we are grateful for the berthing.”