Marines revise order on retiree guest access in Japan

By DAVID ALLEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 20, 2010

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Marines have amended a base access order that had prevented military retirees from signing guests onto Marine bases in Japan.

All Department of Defense ID card holders are now allowed to sponsor up to six visitors for a day, Marine spokesman Lt. Col. Douglas Powell said Tuesday.

After receiving several complaints from retired servicemembers, Stars and Stripes reported that the Marine Corps had begun prohibiting retirees from signing friends onto bases April 2.

Marine officials said they merely were enforcing a Marine Corps Bases Japan order in effect since 2003, and that military retirees could sign in only their spouses and children. At the time, Marine officials did not say why retirees had been allowed to sign guests onto bases in the past.

“The base access issue has been under revision for some time,” Powell said Tuesday. “It was brought to our attention in midstream of revising this order that the retirees were restricted concerning who they could sign on.”

“For 20 years I had been able to bring family members and friends onto the base, then, suddenly, with no explanation, that right was taken away,” said retired Marine Capt. Ray Welch, 60. “It left a question in my mind as to what our value is to the Marine community on Okinawa.”

Joe Kozerski, 66, a retired Navy first class petty officer, was pleased by the news that things were back to normal.

“Denying us the privilege was stupid, absurd,” he said in a telephone interview from his video store in Okinawa City. “I’ve been on island since 1983 and always enjoyed taking my friends to dinner on the bases.”

The Marine Corps was the only service to place the base access restriction on retirees.

The order was revised last week, Powell said, adding that more changes in the access order may be forthcoming.