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Marines in South Korea plan more upgrades at remote camp

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Before the Marine Corps turned unpaved Camp Mu Juk into a modern installation, conditions were so spartan that Marines called it Camp Mud Juk.

Now, the Marines plan further improvements to the remote 88-acre base, which lies amid the rice fields of Ochon, about 20 minutes outside Pohang, a seaport on the east coast.

Plans call for a community services building, small commissary and base exchange, as well as a building that will house the base military police and other security forces, said Col. Douglas O. Fegenbush Jr., deputy commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Korea.

About 60 Marines serve there year-round, and Marine units from outside Korea come in throughout the year for training and exercises.

“We called it Mud Juk back in the old days,” Fegenbush said. “It was quite the cute term we had, because there were no paved roads.” Marines stationed there lived in Quonset huts with open squad bays and toilet facilities.

Workers will spend six months renovating an old one-story gym and turn it into a community services center that’s slated to open sometime next spring.

The $900,000 project calls for a library and a multi-purpose room that can be converted to a conference room, theater or chapel. A game room will have foosball, pool tables, Ping-Pong, darts, a sound system and an area for playing electronic games.

For Marines stationed in the middle of rice fields, the center is especially important after work.

“They’re either in the gym or their room,” Fegenbush said. “There’s really not much they can do on that remote base, so we’re trying to offer them some other services.”

The commissary and base exchange will come about through renovation of an existing H-shaped building that currently serves as a recreation center.

Work on the commissary and exchange won’t start until next year, after completion of the community center, Fegenbush said.

Currently Mu Juk has a very small AAFES shoppette selling snacks, beverages and a limited range of other items.

If Marines need a commissary or exchange, they typically drive about 90 minutes to Camp Walker in Daegu.

The one-story security forces building will cost about $2 million and be used by the military police and the base’s quick-reaction force. It’ll have a high-tech command center, sleeping quarters and an armory.

No start date has been finalized for construction, but it’s expected to go forward sometime this year and be complete by late 2011 or mid-2012.

In another upgrade, the Marines will spend about $500,000 to string electric power and heating and air conditioning to the concrete tent pads where Marines set up camp during exercises.

fisherf@pstripes.osd.mil

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