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CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa — The Marines have established a new beachhead in their fight to improve services in northern Okinawa.

Marine Corps officials unveiled an $11 million facility, called the BeachHead, during a grand opening ceremony on Friday at Camp Schwab.

The eastern boundary of the two-story consolidated club lies just 75 feet from the water’s edge, providing a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean from most spaces within the building.

Construction of the 46,000-square-foot facility was a quality-of-life issue, said James Garringer, Schwab’s corporate club manager.

“Commanders and others all the way down the chain of command are concerned with supporting Marines … and letting them know we are here for them,” he added.

Top brass on Okinawa looked north to Camps Hansen and Schwab to receive better recreational facilities, instead of directing funds to the “flag pole,” Garringer said, referring to Marine Corps bases with flag officers.

Last year, the Marine Corps opened The Palms, a similar, but larger $22 million facility at Camp Hansen.

Construction funds for both facilities came from the Japanese government, which paid roughly $9.8 million to build the BeachHead,and roughly $17.7 million for The Palms, said Naha Defense Facilities Administration Bureau officials.

The Marine Corps paid $1.2 million for the BeachHead’s furniture and interior decorating, said 2nd Lt. Z.S. Riggle, a spokesman for the Marine Corps on Okinawa.

Hansen and Schwab are primarily training bases in northern Okinawa.

Historically, troops stationed there have had fewer recreational facilities and services.

“Life as a Marine on these bases is typically hard,” said Rochelle Miner, a Marine Corps Community Services marketing representative.

“Many of the Marines are isolated. They aren’t allowed to have cars to get away from the base.”

Bringing the new clubs to troops stationed on the island’s northern bases is like bringing “the mountain to Mohammad,” Miner said. “We’re making life simpler for them.”

Built in 1956, Camp Schwab hosts roughly 3,000 active duty Marines and sailors.

The BeachHead has three major sections, not including a large kitchen, administrative rooms, storage facilities, a cashier’s cage, slot machine rooms and spacious hallways.

To the left of the entrance foyer, the Ocean View dining room seats 144 people but can accommodate more.

Glass windows stretch 15 feet to the ceilings and occupy the entire length of the L-shaped room along the beach-side wall.

Glass doors open to a large patio that allows outdoor dining and other party functions.

Decor of the Landing Zone enlisted club to the right of the entrance foyer is intended to set a festive party tone as well as promote military history, said Miner.

Besides a pool room and an expansive semi-circular shaped bar, the club’s centerpiece is a bi-leveled dance area with a disco ball and laser lights to enhance a party atmosphere.

Two raised seating lofts flank the wooden dance floor.

“The design is more modern instead of a flat, one-level space,” said Tim Runquist, MCCS construction project manager.

Part of it was designed to give patrons a spectacular view, Runquist said, while peering through a window of the second-level Staff NCO Lounge overlooking Kin Bay.

The Japanese government plans to build a new runway two miles off shore, where the Marine Corps eventually will relocate its air station.

But the new facility should be far enough away not to obscure the view, Runquist added.

The SNCO lounge also has a dance floor and bar but the tone is much more sedate.

A nautical theme permeates the space.

An emerald green rug has a ship’s wheel design; ropes, sand and seashells are embedded in driftwood tabletops encased in glass.

The lounge seats 115 people but can fit more than 200.

It has sliding wall partitions that allow dividing the space into three separate rooms for special functions or banquets.

The lounge’s three entrances are named after famous battles: Tarawa for World War II; Inchon for the Korean War and Da Nang for the Vietnam War.

Wide hallways outside the club’s main spaces create a mini-convention center atmosphere and allows staff members to set up coffee stations or displays.

Whatever patrons want in terms of special functions or menus, “we’re here for them,” said Garringer. “They just need to communicate with us.”

His only request: “We encourage everybody to take care of this facility for future generations.”

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