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Okinawa Marines can stay in bars, but can't drink after midnight

Marines on Okinawa are no longer allowed to drink alcohol after midnight at off-base bars and restaurants, according to a revised Liberty Campaign Order issued this month.

The order does allow them to remain in the bars, “but public consumption of alcohol is no longer authorized after midnight,” according to a Marine Corps news release announcing the change. “In the order, public consumption means drinking any alcohol off of a U.S. military installation, except when consumed in an off-base private residence.”

Under the old order, Marines had to leave bars and nightclubs at midnight but were allowed to continue drinking in restaurants until 2 a.m.

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The changes to the liberty order -- which applies to all Marines, regardless of their level of liberty privileges, duty status or rank -- were made following an annual review of the policy, according to III Marine Expeditionary Force media relations officer 1st Lt. Lindsay Pirek. The majority of off-base liberty incidents involving servicemembers and alcohol occurs between midnight and 5 a.m., Marine officials said.

“It is our duty to conduct ourselves in a professional manner at all times,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., III Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general and Marine Corps Bases Japan commander, said in the release.

The reason for the change is to reduce the number of incidents, not to punish servicemembers, according to Sgt. Maj. Steven D. Morefield, III MEF sergeant major.

“Honorable conduct is something that is not only valued by our military personnel, but is something our host nation respects and expects from all of us,” Morefield was quoted in the release as saying. “It is our duty to act responsibly, honorably and to police our own on this issue.”

Courtesy patrols will enforce the order where possible but, for them most part, it will be up to individual Marines to follow it as a matter of honor, Pirek said.

“The Marine Corps can’t police everything,” she said. “But if an incident does happen (and Marines are found to have been drinking off-base after midnight) they will be held accountable.”

Junior sailors and Marines on Okinawa are issued red liberty cards when they leave the base, meaning they must travel with a so-called liberty buddy and be back by midnight.

Troops with exemplary records can get a gold liberty card, which entitles them to stay-off base after midnight. These gold cards can be given to Marines and sailors ranked E-3 and above under the new order.

Previously, E-3s were not eligible for gold liberty cards.

robsons@pstripes.osd.mil

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