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Air Force chaplain, Capt. Matthew Boarts, leafs through a book in his office at the Four Chaplains Warfighter Center of Excellence.
Air Force chaplain, Capt. Matthew Boarts, leafs through a book in his office at the Four Chaplains Warfighter Center of Excellence. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Single U.S. military personnel have one more place to spend off-duty hours with the recent opening of the Four Chaplains Warfighter Center of Excellence.

The facility is associated with the base chapel, but it’s not strictly for religious programs.

“It’s character-based, not faith- based,” said Chaplain Capt. Matthew Boarts, the facility’s director.

Boarts keeps an office at the center, one of four rooms in the same building occupied by the American Red Cross on main base — a short walk from the dormitories.

The center was opened to reach young airmen in the dorms, Boarts said, but is not limited to them. It is, however, restricted to active-duty members.

With the exception of the weekly Bible study Wednesday evenings, the center is geared toward building character among young people and providing opportunities for fellowship and volunteer service, Boarts said.

A recent quality-of-life survey sparked the idea for the center. Airmen in the survey identified the need for a neutral meeting place, away from the dorms and bars, Boarts said.

“If you want to go to a small place to talk with your friends, you pretty much have to go to the bars for that,” he said. “This is a place to come that’s quiet for conversation.”

The center opened with “a soft start” in August, Boarts said. “We’re still building and putting in new items.”

The center currently is only open Wednesdays 6 to 10 p.m., an evening that usually includes grilled burgers. Boarts said the center soon will be open Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 10 p.m.

So far, the center’s volunteer staff has offered several off-base outings, including camping and a trip to a local festival. Internet access and recliners are on the way, Boarts noted in a story posted on www.misawa.af.mil.

Both the 35th Fighter Wing and the chapel pitched in funding.

“The rest, we just kind of scrounge,” Boarts said.

The center is named after four chaplains who sacrificed their lives to save sailors when the ship they were aboard was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1943.

For more information about the center or to volunteer, e-mail Boarts at matthew.boarts@us.af. mil, or call the base chapel at DSN 226-4630.

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